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Product Management Roundtable: Create A Product Roadmap – the Product Management Roadmapping Process

Wonderment Apps is proud to present The Product Management Roundtable, our insight series that shares insights into the product development and the process of how to create a product roadmap. We as a group of experienced product managers and product developers would like to provide some insight into the product development processes throughout the lifetime of a product buildout. In this episode of the Product Roundtable series, we will discuss the concepts around roadmapping which is a vital part of product development. Product roadmapping is one of the fundamental steps in the product development process that sets the foundation for a successful product buildout. 

“How do I create a product roadmap that’s great?”  There are many variations on the reasoning behind what feature sets to take on next and how to prioritize them according to business needs. After years of experience as product managers who strive to develop product roadmaps that matter and working with different clients, we have come upon some consistent methodologies and approaches that can be integrated into your product development lifecycle.

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PRODUCT ROUNDTABLE TRANSCRIPT

The Value of Product Management and Roadmapping

[00:00:09.700] – Ryan Williams

Hey, everybody, it’s Ryan Williams from Wonderment Apps, one of the CEOs here, and I’ve got about 20 years of product management and product development experience, and I get to be part of a great team of product developers and product managers here at Wonderment apps. We’ve got people with a variety of different skills and we’re all working towards this notion of becoming a really robust full stack product manager. So I want to give you guys some perspective.

[00:00:41.980] – Ryan Williams

As with previous episodes, some of the specific areas within product management and product development that we look at that are unique. And we think that you’ll find them interesting as we get into digging into how we do things after lots and lots of years of exploring many, many projects. So without further ado, I want to make a quick introduction to my team. So we’ll start with Joe Gillette. Joe, do you want to introduce yourself?

[00:01:09.590] – Joe Gillette

I am Joe, I’m the head of the product team here at Wonderment, and I’m just excited to talk about roadmapping today.

[00:01:19.670] – Ryan Williams

Next up is Alexandra Adelman.

[00:01:24.570] – Alexandra Adelman

Hi my name is Alexandra. I’m a product development manager here at Wonderment, and I’ve worked in various industries for multisided e-commerce to health care, from websites to mobile apps, and I’m really excited to share my knowledge with you today.

[00:01:39.520] – Ryan Williams

Thank you, Amy Halvorsen.

[00:01:43.490] – Amy Halvorsen

Hey, I’m Amy, I’m our newest team member here, and I’m our product designer.

[00:01:52.260] – Ryan Williams

No, you are what you want to be a product developer, Product designer. You’re both for sure. Awesome, thank you. And then Sidra Rubel.

[00:02:04.200] – Sidra Rubel

Hi, I am the lead design engineer wonderment. I’ve had quite a few different roles, I feel like at Wonderment and now I’m part of the product department, which is very fun.

[00:02:18.430] – Ryan Williams

Awesome. Thank you. All right, so today, the subject we wanted to talk about was the concepts around how to create a product roadmap. It’s a vital part of project management and we believe can be done with great care, great kind of technical capabilities, and really bring kind of an artistic sense to how you best curate the next great step in the development of your product. So it really hits the underlying question of what should we do next? And there’s lots and lots of variations on the reasoning behind how you choose what project to take next, how you choose which ones fit the overall vision, which ones fit the KPIs that you’re trying to hit at any given quarter, and which ones are just a natural spot for your audience to go to and any kind of product that’s been developed.

[00:03:15.560] – Ryan Williams

It’s a really easy spot to overlook as well. It’s one that you’re kind of like, yeah, we’ll get to that. Just throw those things on a list and we’ll handle it. When you’re a really small start-up in your and you really kind of, let’s say a garage sale started. It might be easy in your head to keep track of what you’ve got to do next or you’re just kind of crossing things off a list without a little more like project management.

[00:03:39.390] – Ryan Williams

And it’s kind of simplest forms where you just kind of know you’ve got to execute on things and do them. In this particular case, though, you’re looking at like where do I stick large sets of resources when I put big sets of investments towards really intelligently thought out decision making that will lead us to new features, new improvements. Things are going to actually move the needle and change the shape of the product that we built. This will bring in a lot of cases to bring more customers line of cases that will bring more investment.

[00:04:08.970] – Ryan Williams

And in a number of cases, you just want to hit enough to see your experiments working within any given thing to show the marketers that this products from. And so we work from a system where we have kind of a series of elements that we pull together that end up helping you make the decision to do this very basic, put it on a list and prioritize it. It seems like it should be. The simplest thing is often one of the most complex things that all product departments and all tech departments face, and it creates a ton of conflict and confusion amongst the teams.

[00:04:43.530] – Ryan Williams

So after doing this for years and sitting with an enormous amount of teams and all kinds of variations in personality and approach, we’ve come up with some things that are pretty consistent and will help you create a product roadmap efectively. And we feel like when we implement them on our projects, we can teach how they’re done. They give teams an edge. So I want to talk about some of the elements of those particular things. So I’ll go ahead and start. What I’m going to do is I’m going to ask each of the team members here some of their thoughts on some of the elements around mapping.

[00:05:17.640] – Ryan Williams

And we’re going to explore a little bit more what they view as great approaches within the overall road mapping process and some of these individual techniques. So let’s start. So, Joe, what do you think is kind of the foundation of a great roadmap, if you could describe it in a couple of sentences?

[00:05:46.080] – Joe Gillette

Yeah, so the foundation to a great roadmap, I would say, is to understand the high-level sort of business objectives. Sometimes we think about milestones, what’s coming up on the business calendar in terms of important dates or anything like that might be impactful on the decisions that we’re making. If we know there’s a big conference in October, we want to have certain features live by that time, something like that. And another thing foundational that any roadmap is, like you said, that kind of that checklist, the wish list. What are all of the things that if you’re not weighing anything, what is everything that we could possibly want for this product?

[00:06:36.830] – Ryan Williams

Yeah, I find that pretty important, just like getting the entire kind of bounty of ideas into one place, that can sometimes be one of the biggest challenges, especially if you have a lot of numbers. OK, great. Alexandra, you’ve spent a lot of time with roadmaps. What do you think are some of the foundations to, like making a really great roadmap?

[00:06:59.850] – Alexandra Adelman

I’d like to elaborate or just reemphasize what Joe said about having a clear understanding of the key objectives and having that understanding, the clarity behind those objectives allows you to do a number of things, will ultimately help you not only with your roadmap, but with your development and investment of resources towards a road map. But having those objectives will help you by get stakeholder buy in, make sure everybody’s on the same page with the direction and the vision for your product, and then also understanding the objectives. The high-level objectives will help you put KPIs and actual measurements against how to achieve those objectives. So I think you can’t have a road map without vision objectives and KPIs.

[00:08:00.780] – Ryan Williams

Awesome Yeah, I agree. I think one of the interesting ones in there and one of the challenging ones in there’s the Buy in. We’ll talk a little bit about some techniques for how that process works when you have a lot of competing factors inside. Well, Amy, you’re a little bit newer to the process, but you’ve been doing some moving. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve experienced so far and what’s come up for you around.

[00:08:28.560] – Amy Halvorsen

Yeah, so what I actually like about roadmaps as a tool is it shows a visual representation of how much work there is actually to complete in your set amount of time frame. So it really gives instead of just like the list, it’s broken out into something that’s more visual for someone to understand other than just a list. And I’m a visual person and it’s helpful for me and to other clients to see this is how much work there actually is to get done in this amount of time.

[00:09:04.440] – Ryan Williams

It’s all right Sidra.

[00:09:11.050] – Sidra Rubel

You know, I’m not the one who does roadmaps, I have been very I haven’t really created roadmaps for different projects. I’m the person that comes in once that’s done right, and once we have a timeline, but one thing I do know is a lot of clients don’t put any effort into a road map, so instead of having blocks of time that they lay out for specific tasks, we just have a general this needs to get done by the state, which makes it very difficult for me to even convey to them what is possible in a certain time frame. So what I know is road maps are very important and they’re often not done at all or not done well. You know, they’re not really thought out. And the amount of time needed to get something done is not usually enough to actually do what the client wants.

[00:10:07.220] – Ryan Williams

Yeah, I think road maps are kind of like that. That shining light down at the end of the trail party. That’s like following that things that you can see it and a lot of times like without that you can get really lost. And I know, I know when you don’t have those, it’s really easy to just kind of pick individual things from technical development. That one small choice that you make can have a massive impact on budget and time in general on a project.

[00:10:44.130] – Ryan Williams

So it’s a huge deal. OK, great. So, I mean, I think the first thing that comes up around roadmaps is kind of what’s like a generally interesting layout for you. How do you actually look at. So we heard where Amy mentioned a little bit around visualization. We heard a couple of concepts around this and things like that. One of the things I wanted to kind of chat with you guys a little bit about is to hear your thoughts on what is a good kind of usable roadmap with both on an internal tracking level, because I think there is the part where you’re actually like in a meeting using the road map shifting and then on a presentation, I have some ideas are presenting one of the visual. So, Joe, we start with you.

[00:11:44.360] – Joe Gillette

So that’s a great point.  And another great thing about how to create a product roadmap is that it gives everyone a very visual point of reference that I think is pretty easy to understand. So the way we do that, typically it’s laid out almost like a calendar or a timeline, for example. So you’ve got markers of time. You might have set milestones or dates against certain markers and you plot your list and your wish list against the timeline based on what you know about the sprint process, you know, how long are things going to take for product development and design and development and QA and all that stuff. You take all those things into consideration and you plot that wish list out onto a calendar or a timeline that everybody can see. And then for me personally, when I’m in a product management role like where I’m at with one of my clients right now, their financial client, and we’re doing two week sprints, we’ve got new releases every two weeks, and they’re doing a lot of active feature development there. Their wish list is never ending. And so it’s really important to have that roadmap to check in on a bi-weekly basis.

[00:12:57.150] – Joe Gillette

About a week ahead of the sprint, we check back in on the roadmap. We make sure that everything that’s coming up in this segment of time is still in line with the team’s priorities. There’s always something new that’s going to float up from the bottom of the list or something new that just came in over email this week. Make sure that goes to the top of the list and then slide that into the timeline. And then everybody can see, OK, if we bring in if we decide to develop this feature this week, it’s going to push a few things further down the timeline. And everybody really understands that they can see these chunks of work and where they fit in time. And I think that’s a crucial tool. And I think clients are highly visual most of the time. Like everybody, I think everybody learns better graphics, infographics, things like that.

[00:13:44.520] – Ryan Williams

What about when you’re working with, like in real time meetings and dealing with the communication, because I know when the challenges that we found be in a room with like six or seven stakeholders and each person is like, I need this. It’s like this is the most important thing. And we’ll get into some of the like how we value things and how we go in. On a visual level. How do you actually how do you manage it? Like what you are processing.

[00:14:13.110] – Joe Gillette

That’s a great question. One thing I try to do when I’m road mapping is to have some kind of system like color coding system can work. But where did the request come from? You have to know, where does the request comes from? Ultimately, within any organization, there is some kind of hierarchy. And usually even on the client side, there’s somebody that’s more or less a designated product owner or decision maker for the team. But in general, when I’m capturing things for the roadmap or for the backlog, I always make sure to capture where did that request comes from.

[00:14:45.660] – Joe Gillette

And so, for example, in one company that I’m working with, there’s a request for marketing which are directly tied to active campaigns, active money being spent. So a lot of those requests are going to float to the top. If the marketing has a request that has a direct impact on revenue, it’s going to float to the top of the list, whereas somebody who might be in Biz Dev and their building partner relationships, that’s more like a slow burn sort of process. We weigh those things accordingly, but I don’t know if that answers your question.

[00:15:20.040] – Ryan Williams

I think it’s like, are there any tools that you use? Like it does actually. And it’s a great formula that actually let’s go to Alexandra. What kind of tools do you use to create a product roadmap? Kind of like in the moment meeting where you’re capturing information and asking people to make decisions. Do you have anything specific you’d like to use?

[00:15:49.040] – Alexandra Adelman

So I think that. Having a calendar view and color coded, a line item for each row, perhaps for each item on your road map, and then plotting it out on a calendar as a first step, it allows for a visual representation of competing priorities. So you have a finite amount of time, a finite bandwidth and a million requests coming in from all different locations. So step one, I think, is helping to convey to anybody in this meeting that some sort of decision or choice is going to have to be made about where time can be spent and so that opens the door to just step two in a process, which is how you value and prioritize and how you get all these important people in the room to come to some sort of agreement on how things are ordered in your calendar, on how, you know, the most critical things on our roadmap right now are being addressed first. So then that allows the conversation in this meeting to evolve into the evaluation and that’s valuation, but a valuation process and a scoring mechanism to help determine prioritization in your backlog.

[00:17:18.520] – Ryan Williams

Yeah, that’s right. So I know in the past I’ve used tools. I’ve used Asana pretty extensively for this. I’ve used obviously Jira has some roadmapping tools that are really great as well. And if you’re going kind of more down and dirty and like a little more experimentation, it’s like a Trello like this got like super fast or a base camp that you want to do project management. But I’ve also seen some people using just like Google like Sheets is like a nice kind of system.

[00:17:52.300] – Ryan Williams

Are there some kind of basic elements in the set that you think they need to make sure and have? Is there one that you use you like the best?

[00:18:02.800] – Alexandra Adelman

Yeah, there’s some I’m sorry, do you mean methods or like software?

[00:18:08.560] – Ryan Williams

Yeah in this case, the tool you’re using for the road mapping

[00:18:11.710] – Alexandra Adelman

Got it. I have recently been introduced to a product called Aha! that that works that works well. That seems like a more advanced version of product plan in the past, Jira next generation boards. Those are helpful because it ties directly to your Jira ticket. So especially you get two things out of that. You get the high level view of the road map. That’s useful when you’re in a in a stakeholder meeting and they just want to look at things from a very high perspective. But then you also get the more breakdown view, which is useful in product meetings or in use with developers, where you can see in details, which features will go into completing that, without that roadmap item and then even more specifically, what are the specific tickets that will go into the feature that will go into the road map?

[00:19:10.130] – Alexandra Adelman

That’s what I found, that Trello and Asana are useful from like from a very project management perspective so often used in combination of Jira without high levels and the more detailed view.

[00:19:29.120] – Ryan Williams

Amy, I saw you doing recently and speaking of tools like a cool thing, you’re kind of starting out on the visualization side, which makes sense. You’re a little bit more of a designer, product developer. I saw you were using slack to kind of do some Decision-Making tool sets.

[00:19:52.190] – Amy Halvorsen

I’m sorry, was I building something in slack or?

[00:19:56.680] – Ryan Williams

I don’t remember what it was, but you were kind of the bucket exercise into the product cycle?

[00:20:05.000] – Amy Halvorsen

Yeah, I am. I actually really like whimsical. So with one of my clients in the past, we had done just a sticky note. We were together in the room. But now because of COVID, we can’t do that. So in the virtual sense, we just translated that to being able to do that with whimsical, which was great because there’s so many tickets can or post its can be written fairly quickly and you can move them around and prioritize them and everyone can see it.

[00:20:42.050] – Ryan Williams

And yeah you can make those real time decisions. And there’s this psychological thing, the visual like really help people go like, no, that’s more important. I think you look at groups too, within that as well.

[00:20:54.650] – Amy Halvorsen

Yeah. Like a priority ranking system and moving them around. Yeah. We’ve also used Lucidchart in the past. It’s sort of like a whimsical, but I still think I prefer whimsical.

[00:21:08.120] – Ryan Williams

You mean charting tools to kind of say. it’s a little bit more of a real time design approach which is really cool.

[00:21:20.240] – Sidra Rubel

Alright Sidra, I don’t know if you’ve had a ton of experience actually like using roadmapping tools or anything, but have you been in some sessions that are pretty interesting?

[00:21:28.970] – Sidra Rubel

We’ve spoken about whimsical a bit in our weekly meetings, and I do love the visualization it provides. I created a very basic timeline recently for a project I’m working on because we don’t have one. And, you know, it is just a basic Excel document with different tasks laid out which works and also with color coded blocks, which definitely work. I would prefer to use something more like whimsical in the future and maybe even get help from the rest of the team to really put each task into each color coded block, because I feel like this is a common thing for me.

[00:22:10.660] – Sidra Rubel

I have to continually go back to the client and ask what their priority is and what the next thing I should work on is. And we don’t have it laid out. We use a backlog in general, but that’s not terribly helpful unless the client is continually moving tasks around. I don’t know what the actual next priority. So if we did have these in a nice roadmap timeline, they could easily move something to this bucket. But I could continue working on what else is in the prioritized bucket, you know.

[00:22:45.400] – Ryan Williams

Just set me up for the segment of our next discussion because it’s actually a great topic that you hit on. And I think it’s a really important one, which is. What you hear there is somebody who is primarily on the engineering side saying, I’ve got a list of things I’m trying to manage, a timeline and approach. And really the key to roadmaps in general is can you make a business oriented decision within these tech environments so that you can actually line up the best possible thing.

[00:23:17.480] – Ryan Williams

And so the approach of just kind of moving things around, picking the next thing, I think if you have very succinct stacks of tasks within projects where again, you’re kind of like at that very kind of granular stage, you just kind of execute, execute, execute, which can be really useful. And on the engineering side, that’s kind of a common approach. But the second that it gets a little bit bigger, you have to start making decisions on what is the actual thing.

[00:23:44.650] – Ryan Williams

So this is a process we like to bring in, no matter whatever tool is actually being used to do it. We have a matrix that we use that is pretty powerful for some of the decision making around those elements. And I have Joe kick off and talk a little bit like that. That allows us to kind of start to drill down and create that. I think we’ve talked about the term valuation, but the value of something, and it allows us to put some kind of value on it. Hopefully, we can measure specific KPIs. But most importantly, it says, based on these components, these are the most valuable things that maybe you could introduce the Matrix a little bit and talk a little bit about it and make sure that the visual up of it to this.

[00:24:28.650] – Joe Gillette

Yeah, absolutely. So as Ryan mentioned, one of the tools we use in road mapping is a value matrix. So it’s just, again, a really simple visual exercise that I think clients really understand, even in a room full of 20 people. They understand and I’ve done this in sessions on a whiteboard with 20 people in the room when I create a product roadmap. You draw a simple X and Y-axis. The bottom is effort scale low to high and the vertical axis is value business value scored low to high or user value. I consider I tend to think of it as a business value because there are some things that have a direct impact on revenue that may or may not correspond to user value.

[00:25:19.950] – Joe Gillette

So we weigh business value versus effort on a matrix and you divide that into four quadrants, kind of low, low value, low effort, low value, high effort, high value, high effort, etc.. And so again, whimsical comes up as a really great tool for this may actually have a valuation matrix template built in. So you can just kind of pull that out of the box. I customize it a little bit myself, but the way the sticky notes work in whimsical, you kind of have these different what they’re called stacks. So I start with one giant stack which is unsorted and that stack is typically color coded.

[00:25:58.760] – Joe Gillette

So I know where those requests came from, whether it was the marketing department, it came from tech. Was it an internal recommendation from me as a product manager? Was it a request from the client, etc.? And then I take that unsorted stack and then we just go down the list with the group. And I speak as a representative of tech, typically as a product manager. I’m speaking often as a so I can help them way low, low effort versus high effort. I have a pretty good sense of that. And then what I need from my clients most of the time is to help weigh that business value.

[00:26:33.130] – Joe Gillette

And oftentimes I’m walking them through that conversation because I think we all know working with clients, everything is a top priority, high value, always. Right. But when we talk about value, you have to have really clear definitions of of of what that is. And so when we talk about business value, high value is a direct impact on revenue, direct impact on all of our user base, and then low value might be something that’s like one the backend admin tools that if we’ve got a content management system, maybe there’s something that would improve that CMS and allow our content team to work a little more efficiently.

[00:27:16.900] – Joe Gillette

But it’s not as high value as something that every user sees that’s tied to revenue. So we weigh those things accordingly. And again, everybody, in my experience, clients really understand this exercise. It’s very visual. And they can all you give everybody a chance to vote on each of these and then you drop it into the corresponding quadrant on that matrix.

[00:27:38.820] – Ryan Williams

Awesome, that is really good. Alexandra, do you want to talk a little bit about this kind of like idea of adding matrix to decision making?

[00:27:47.230] – Alexandra Adelman

Yeah. So. You can use a value matrix to prioritize items on a roadmap, and then you can also use a value matrix to prioritize the features inside the roadmap to decide which ones are going to be selected to help you achieve those roadmap goals. And in that way, the value access can be directly applied towards what that roadmap objective is. If the roadmap objective if it’s related to customer acquisition, maybe it’s related to increasing revenue, maybe it’s related to improving user experience. Or maybe you have one specifically really related to improving your or about your admin user’s experience. And then the items can be valued based on a very specific criteria to help you attain the goals and objectives of your product based on the roadmap definition. The quadrant layout allows you to see things that are high value and low effort. These are often things are low hanging fruit tasks that are low hanging fruit that you can try to knock out of the park quickly to achieve some fast gains with low with the lower investment of time and resources.

[00:29:14.560] – Alexandra Adelman

Time and resources are ultimately money. So lower money in, money out. And then and then there are the items that are maybe high value, but also high effort. And these are ones that may take longer or that need to be unpacked and perhaps re-evaluated inside that quadrant to, again, see where you’re going to gain the highest benefit for your investment and doing this valuation with so many people in the room, you can get buy in, can get late, you can get scores from each of the key stakeholders so that in such a way that everybody is in agreement about where the value is coming from and how it’s being played.

[00:30:16.810] – Ryan Williams

Awesome, Thank you! Amy do you have anything you want to add here.

[00:30:21.770] – Amy Halvorsen

You guys touched on almost everything that I would have said to cover, but. This would be a really helpful tool to apply for me now going forward. And we did this at first with one of my clients and everything was a high priority, everything just ended up in there and just seeing that was like, OK, this is a helpful tool to make this change.

[00:30:52.550] – Ryan Williams

Yeah. What do we do when it’s all high priority? Yes. Yeah, and then maybe the low hanging fruit becomes more important or we look at sacrifices depending on how fast we have to move to things.

[00:31:08.990] – Sidra Rubel

Yeah, on my side, I would just say I don’t always know what is most effective for a company is a revenue. I don’t see their business that I don’t have insight to that. So going through this with the client before we start a project would be very helpful for me to know where. Maybe it will take a lot of time to do this. And I think it’s a small task. But the client thinks it’s actually the most important task to get done. And I think that would help the most. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Because I just don’t have any insight into their business.

[00:31:43.970] – Ryan Williams

And yeah, for sure. I like it too, because it’s something you could put on the board. I mean, if when a person is in the business, it is nice in a room to have an abortion, boom, boom, boom, put things up there, then you can even see the granularity of how things like lining up in those areas. So they do help, help the decision. So let’s talk about this subject then, which is what happens when we have competition for the most important thing.

[00:32:20.180] – Ryan Williams

So let’s say we get on our board and now we see a couple of items on the board. That looked pretty strong for different reasons and maybe is cheap and fast and maybe another one’s more complex, but it’s a big revenue generator. And then let’s say marketing and sales team and the tech team are all jockeying for resources. What are some ways that we look at, like actually making decisions about which is the most important? Whose is the most important? Joe, you want to talk a little bit about that?

[00:32:54.810] – Joe Gillette

Yeah, definitely, I’ll try and keep it brief, I think Alexandrea probably has a lot to offer here as well on how to create a product roadmap.  But for me personally. It comes down to this is this is one of the reasons that a roadmap is so foundational, you have an inventory at that point. You see everywhere that we’re trying to go with this product. And when you have the whole picture, you’re able to make strategic decisions more thoughtfully.

[00:33:27.170] – Joe Gillette

So sometimes how that might affect priority when you’ve got all these competing voices. I think Alexander mentioned waiting for things and voting on things. I think that’s a helpful tool. But then also still, sometimes you end up with everything in one sort of bucket. Everything is a top priority. And then it comes down to you as a product manager, being able to strategize and make thoughtful decisions on behalf of your client and then present that to them as a strategy. So for me, it’s like looking at. Like you mentioned, resources within the development, resources within marketing, and I and I, I take into things, take things into consideration, like SLAs for each of these groups and turnaround times for each of these groups. So I know it’s going to take marketing two weeks to get their piece together for this. So maybe you just slide things around on the timeline accordingly. And yeah, that’s what I’d say.

[00:34:26.820] – Ryan Williams

But let’s say you’re in the meeting with the head of marketing and you’re also in the meeting with the head of the COO. And they have different opposing opinions on what the most important thing is. What would you say? How would you address that then? Like in the negotiation process.

[00:34:48.460] – Joe Gillette

That’s a great question. I don’t want to answer this one. Alexandra, what do you think?

[00:34:57.420] – Alexandra Adelman

I would have everybody in the room score it, so it just there’s various complexities of scoring mechanisms such not use, whether it’s weighted with multiple multiple input scores or whatnot, or just a very simple, straightforward one where you state what the objective is, what’s your roadmap objective. And then you have everybody in the room go around and give it a score from one to 10 and you average that, and that would be my first approach to this, if we need to get more details from that point, we can. But having would like to be honest, you know, be honest. We’re going to give what’s your we’re going this is the objective. This is the stated objective. We want to acquire two hundred thousand more customers this quarter scale put on a scale of one to 10. How beneficial towards moving the needle you think this feature of and this item will be?

[00:35:58.210] – Ryan Williams

Yeah, I want to move it to a guy like I do like the scoring mechanisms and I think we have a pretty good scoring system for the way that we put. One thing, though, to I think is often like when you’re in those kinds of small rooms, like in the board rooms, like people are jockeying for four, which is the most important thing that has happened. One entity that I think is often lost in that process is the user. So really on a product management side, we have to represent the user. So we really are thinking about their interests. And I’m sometimes like I’m like the attorney for the user in this meeting, you know, like my client would like to see this. But I really the user can’t speak to me oftentimes directly. Right? So I’ve got to go dig in and definitely use as much data as I have to get an answer. Definitely use as much like the qualitative perspective from we’ve got focus groups going or whether we’ve been into the fields and actually experience watching the news or things like this and actually like their frustration levels or rank their excitement levels by this.

[00:37:04.450] – Ryan Williams

And so, like looking at frustration and excitement and users and bringing those back to the table, if we come armed with those things, a lot of times no one in those rooms has any insight as to what that experience is like. And I bring this up a lot around, especially like onboarding process. Right. You can see a lot in just the onboarding data where people are dropping off significantly and just the simple funnel. And you go, well, the users are talking right here. They’re talking about they can’t get past the spot. So we need to actually represent this important spot for them. That’s the key. Things are trying and get the attempt. But it’s certainly in large organizations that have data environment set up a training intern. Amy, do you want to add anything here?

[00:37:54.140] – Amy Halvorsen

OK, I actually don’t have much. Here in terms of this, this is a little unfamiliar territory for me.

[00:38:07.640] – Ryan Williams

This is a this is kind of some of the more advanced product management stuff, and it is challenging to because as you move up the ranks and you’re starting to take on more responsibility, you as a product manager are going to face the spot where you sit in between the interests of a lot of people. And so, like where you’re actually trying to find the sweet spot and balancing those interests is a core skill set to the job. And it’s something that we work on and can train and go into those. And we’re talking usually about pretty powerful people who have a lot of influence in the investment firm. Sidra, how about you? Do you have any thoughts here?

[00:38:48.060] – Sidra Rubel

And I have to say the first thing I’m glad I don’t have to be in the room like you guys do. But as the developer, I think it’s interesting that you say we are kind of the voice of the user and that’s a developer having worked on many different projects, different types of sites, things like that. We do have that outside perspective that, you know, they’re looking at their company and they’re not really considering anything outside of their company. But we have seen possibly seeing these things work on many different sites and seeing what did add more value to that client, for example. So I think it helps that we have that outside perspective and can kind of suggest to them what might be more beneficial in the long run, that they might not see it the same way.

[00:39:32.650] – Ryan Williams

Yeah, and it’s interesting, I think tech might get lost the most out of everybody in these conversations and oftentimes is probably the number one most important thing in any of these given moments. But a good example of that I see dropped when you create a product roadmap all the time because the representation isn’t very good. On the tech side are things that improve performance and things that need major refactoring. So like really kind of foundational issues that are not sexy. They don’t drive like the wow factor on the site. Like we’ll get to those later with those later and over there. And what you actually can watch if you watch a good way making session is you’ll watch technical debt build over the course of time so you can actually see how much is built. You can actually quantify technical debt into your roadmap sessions. So if you take a percentage of how much your tech costs are in each and each sprint and you apply those things, you were about once a month and you cut down to a one month average set at a percentage of like, let’s say, five percent of the tech for doing that equates to technical debt.

[00:40:36.700] – Ryan Williams

And you start to actually see the financial numbers. And with that technical, that costs you it’s a very illuminating thing. And so if you have really good CTO, it’s really good VPs of engineering to get in there and show that it’s suddenly like businesses go, OK, hold on, hold on. We got to work on the engine as much as you’ve got to work on the body of the car. These things are really important for that analysis. So that’s a good one.

[00:41:02.320] – Ryan Williams

All right, great. Well, listen, I think I think we should talk on this for probably another hour or two. These are some of the big areas that I want to cover in today’s today’s topic. And I think it’s a really, really good one for everybody to keep exploring and keep thinking about. And there’s all kinds of new tools for making that happen all of the time. And there’s an amazing amount of training within the communication patterns that go on in the way that we actually negotiate, the way that we balance interests, the way that we’re actually seeing what’s most important to the business, the user, and see like all of the team that’s actually building it and contributing.

[00:41:41.260] – Ryan Williams

So there’s a lot that happens here because when you create a product roadmap you actually helping decide the direction of a particular product and it absolutely influences the direction of an organization. So we hope to learn a little bit today. We’ll be putting some slides in this presentation and have some links for you guys to check out. But this is one that’s a hard one to train until you’re really in the room. But there are some great tools that you can use.

[00:42:06.280] – Ryan Williams

It will help you manage all of these different interests. So thanks for joining us. We are wonderment Apps at www.wondermentapps.com. We do everything from staff augmentation and putting really great technical team members on to tech teams to manage full projects. So we don’t care what kind of a company you are, start a brick and mortar or a huge enterprise. We can actually take projects for you to knock them all the way across the board from the beginning. Product conceptualization all the way through technical development into quality assurance. And then finally make sure that everything is managed all through that process and you get something that’s high quality, a bunch of great people. So it’s great to have you here today. We hope you stayed this long and we will see you next time.