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Five Steps to a Stellar Product Roadmap: Part Two

Tony Scherba
January 12, 2020

If you haven't read part one of this blog, start here! At Yeti, we always begin our product roadmaps with a 5 phase roadmapping workshop. During these sessions we help teams establish the unified vision, direction and priorities necessary for creating a successful product.

In part one of this blog series we discussed phases one and two of our roadmapping workshop: Defining User Personas and User Journey Mapping. Next, we'll be moving on to ideation, prioritization and roadmapping.

3) Ideation

Ideation is where the fun really begins! At this point in the workshop your team will begin generating solutions for one of the pain points you've identified in your user journey map. There are a few different exercises that will help in this process - we find  "Crazy 8's" to be particularly helpful:

Crazy 8's:

The intention of this exercise is to generate as many ideas as possible within a short time frame - the emphasis here should be on quantity over quality of ideas.

By giving individuals 8 minutes to generate 8 ideas you help push them to move past their first idea, which is frequently the least innovative.

Begin this exercise by handing out sheets of paper to each individual participating, which they should then fold their paper into eight sections.

Set a timer for eight minutes - each team member should then sketch one idea in each of the eight sections. Remind everyone that these ideas are just sketches - they don't have to be works of art.

To help team members who don’t have a background in design, you might want to hold a quick how to sketch session. It's also important to remind everyone that their ideas don’t have to be great - this exercise should be about quieting everyone's inner critic and allowing the creative juices to flow.

Once your team has completed their individual ideation process, and you have many divergent ideas on the topic,  each individual should present their ideas to the team and tape their sheet to a wall or whiteboard. Once everyone has presented the team can dot vote for their favorites.

4) Prioritization

Once you've chosen the best ideas formulated during your ideation session, the team should work to prioritize the most important aspects of the product you are designing.

Ideally you should look for the areas in which you can make the biggest impact - understanding what these things are should help you to decide what should be built and in what order.

Having a developer take part in the prioritization process is helpful, as they will have a good idea of how complex a task is, and the amount of time it will take to perform.

If you find yourself running into difficulty with the prioritization process, the Priority Star Process can be extremely helpful. It will allow you to understand what should be done first, and help define metrics for success for each of your priorities.

5) Roadmapping

Congratulations! You've completed all of the pre-work necessary to create a stellar Product Roadmap! Once you've finished prioritizing all of your tasks, it's time to put them into the timelines and milestones that will become your product roadmap.

It's important to remember that even the most comprehensive product roadmap can't see a product through until the end of time. Technology evolves quickly, business needs shift, and budgets can change overnight.

If you're creating complex features or new technologies, be ready to iterate on your roadmap before completing the first verision of your product (this is called the MVP or Minimum Viable Product, and only includes only the features needed for market validations) .

Once you've launched an MVP, prepare to revisit the roadmap for each future iteration. Continued roadmapping is imperative to ensure a great product maintains it’s momentum.

For more help with getting your product roadmap off the ground, check out our Complete Guide to Product Roadmapping!

Tony Scherba is a CEO + Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.

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