Pitfalls of public roadmaps

Published on December 16, 2015 by Antti Hietala



In my previous post Should a roadmap be public? I argued that you are better off publishing your product roadmap. I compared vendor roadmaps in the content management industry to show that public is the norm.

In this post I look at two common pitfalls in public roadmaps and how to avoid them.

 

Pitfall 1: Scheduling

Usually problems arise not from publishing the roadmap as such but from attempts to schedule it. While it may be a good idea to set delivery deadlines internally, those dates don’t communicate well to the larger user community.

You may think that setting a public deadline demonstrates confidence in your ability to deliver on time. But it is unlikely that you can deliver everything by the chosen date. Even more likely, the plan will have changed by the time you reach the deadline.

It’s OK to share the roadmap as long everyone understands that a roadmap is a plan and not a commitment. Plans change when market needs change.

 

It’s a good idea to start this conversation inside the company. Explain the difference between a plan and a commitment to sales and everyone who communicates with the user community. Don’t sell the roadmap. Sell the current product.

 

Pitfall 2: No theme

The second pitfall with public roadmaps are unrelated items. A list of seemingly random features is a poor roadmap. It says two things:

  • You are trying to please too many people.
  • The product lacks focus.

Choose a theme. Pick features and improvements that fit the theme.

It’s easier to talk about an upcoming release when all features have a common theme. A theme is proof of focus and deliberate planning. Everyone who needs to communicate the roadmap will benefit from a coherent story.

The theme for Magnolia’s current roadmap is author experience. Most items on the roadmap make authors’ lives easier:

  • Tagging content
  • Referencing content
  • Back-end forms
  • Page editor improvements
  • Fix UX pain points
  • Component personalization
  • App navigation
  • Publishing of related content
  • Content type modeling
  • Article editor
  • Language-specific content structure
  • Search

This thematic glue will help us explain the next major release to the user community.

It also makes a coherent story at the Magnolia conference where we offer more content for authors than ever before. Book your ticket! ;)



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About the author Antti Hietala

Antti Hietala is a product manager at Magnolia. He is tasked with articulating Magnolia's value proposition to sales and professional services. In constant contact with users, he feeds the product roadmap with front-line input. Antti's key responsibilities include internal communication, product roadmap and feature specifications. Follow him on Twitter @antarctic74.


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