PRODUCTHEAD: Rethinking product roadmaps

PRODUCTHEAD: Rethinking product roadmaps

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

a product at the door


Remove the timelines from your product roadmap

Use roadmap themes to focus on solving user problems

User outcomes are more important than delivering features

Roadmaps help to make strategic decisions when there’s low certainty

Rethinking your roadmap approach can help when managing mature products


Product roadmapping is frequently discussed. But there always seems to be a disconnect between received wisdom on the “right” way to construct your roadmap and what people actually end up presenting to their stakeholders.

The format of your roadmap is in part dictated by the software you’re using to create it, and by what your bosses have asked you for (usually 100% accurate delivery deadlines, up to five years out, natch).

It’s no surprise, then, that most roadmaps still look like Gantt charts with a timescale, from which people will determine that v2.7 will release at exactly 11.32am on March 26.

You can’t predict the future, and software development is full of uncertainty, even with the benefit of robust user research. So stop fooling yourself into thinking your product roadmap can present a picture of certainty, and call it what it is: a best guess based on current available information.

This week I’ve pulled together some expert views on how to make your product roadmap more helpful, representative and meaningful.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

Why Release Dates Are Irrelevant To Product Managers

What’s a product roadmap with dates? A release plan. Or at least it might as well be.

Stop putting dates on your roadmap


Themes: A Small Change to Product Roadmaps with Large Effects

Themes are an alternative for features. Instead of promising to build a specific feature, the team commits to solving a specific customer problem.

Promise to solve problems, not to build features


Watch a roadmap masterclass with Jock

Every product needs a roadmap, but most are useless and a waste of everyone’s time. Why? Because too often people misunderstand what roadmaps are for, and include the wrong information. This talk shares the secrets of making your product roadmap one of the most effective tools in your product manager kit bag.

Over an hour’s content for £45.00 plus VAT

An Agile Service Design Roadmap

As teams and processes are increasingly becoming agile, so should the tools we use. This article seeks to present, explore and discuss a different and more agile roadmap for the design of digital product service systems.

Focus on user outcomes and behaviour


Make the Most of Your Roadmap

A project plan is a great tool for planning time, scope and cost when you have a high degree of certainty in your users, their problems, and your solution. However, the development of services often requires us to operate in areas of uncertainty and work with agility. Roadmaps are great tools for making strategic decisions in spaces with low certainty.

Focus on value


Growing Up Lean

If you look at what you typically read on Medium and other startup-savvy publications, you’ll mostly read about launching products and optimising for growth. No one seems to write about managing products that are reaching maturity, or god forbid, the decline stages.

Which is a shame, since it’s exactly at those stages when things start to get really hard.

Maturity comes with problems


recent posts

The secret behind meaningful roadmaps

I bet that at the moment your roadmaps probably have items along the lines of “we’re going to build this feature” or “we’re going to add this capability”.

Guess what? If you’re doing that, you’re still probably focused on outputs, not the user outcomes.

Everything is an experiment


Back(log) to the Future – story arcs, roadmaps and product themes

Imagine your roadmap and sprints being as engaging as a hit movie – just think how much easier they’d be to “sell” to your stakeholders and customers! Let’s see how you can do this.

When this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour…


Manage the whole product

A product is often a complex combination of several products and services. Some you create yourself, some are created by others. You’re responsible for the whole lot, even if they’re not all directly in your control.

What do Google, Tesla and Apple have in common with the Michelin Guide?


The only article you’ll ever need on prioritization

When faced with an overwhelming number of things you could be doing, all with good reasons for doing them, it can be tremendously hard to decide which to do, let alone which to do first.

Prioritization is all about deciding this as objectively and transparently as you can.

Break the deadlock


What technical skills do I need to be a product manager?

I am searching for a career change and Product Management/ Project Management are my areas of interest. I was looking to understand, based on your experience, if in such roles technical skills are required?

Read on for my answer


upcoming talks and events

5th May 2021, 16:00 GMT


Online product management round table discussion (topic TBC)


can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from little fluffy clouds.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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