Defending the Product Roadmap

March 29, 2020

Protecting developers from an increasing scope of work before the initial agreed-upon work is completed is one of the skills of a good tech lead / project developer.

Of course, it’s a complicated isuse in a way because ideation can be the ultimate creator and killer of products.

“It would be cool if this broom absorbed water…” - A mop is born. “It would be cool if this mop also had a disco light.” - Confusion is born.

One of the most challenging questions for a team building a product is: “How do we encourqge and empower our team to be creative and make suggestions without damaging the product roadmap?” We want everyone to be excited and to have a voice about the project, but also, we shouldn’t get derailed or caught up in considering small pivots every few weeks.

This is what I like to call “Defending the Roadmap” and I think it can be a very healthy way to work with a team on approaching product.

These are phrases that your team will throw at you constantly:

  • “It would be great if…”
  • “What if we…”
  • “Could this be more like…”

The process for suggesting new ideas needs to be formalized and have a particular time and place. We can call this the product forum. Ideas should be presented as “my hypothesis is…” and that hypothesis should relate directly to the user. The hypothesis will need to be proven before it goes into a roadmap. This should be the job of the UX team and/or sales team who is dealing directly with users.

Teams that do not have a daily team standup should have a bi-weekly meeting to update everyone on the status of the roadmap features and to discuss the upcoming features. This can be a short meeting (30 minutes) or a written document that team members can comment on or ask questions.

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