What’s a Product Marketer Doing with the Roadmap? (Series 2 of 4)

Part 2 of Agile Product Marketing Series:

  1. Product Marketing Becomes Agile
  2. What’s a Product Marketer Doing with a Roadmap?
  3. The Launch Queen Speaks
  4. It’s Not Small Change

A series designed to help Agile and B2B Marketing teams understand each other’s conversations and methods.  Previously, we discussed how marketing teams gain insight about current product features before release by being part of the “Agile dialog.” Marketers generate user benefits from these features and need time to do this well.

“Incremental Improvement” Impacts Marketing Process

Agile development produces new product features often and incrementally, which is important in a changing marketplace. Marketers don’t want Agile Teams to slow down, lose the rhythm, or delay incremental improvements but we urgently need to know where you’re heading.

Being included real-time in Agile planning and reviews is pretty critical for us. A great deal of what marketing does is communicating the product strategy to different audiences, both internal and external. We are always being asked, “When’s the new XYZ being launched?”  and “What’s in it?” We’ve have to see the bigger picture, the roadmap, or BIG #Fail.

Agile Teams Can Provide Real-Time GPS

Share the Product Backlog with the Marketing Team. Show us in which Sprints features will release; offer timelines, priorities and updates.  We will use this information for product messaging/positioning and to update our marketing plan. We also need to build our own “roadmap” for marketing. We could use your help in designing this.

Big Share from Marketing

We spend a good deal of time with customers/support/sales and we hear a lot of ideas. Marketing can offer Agile teammates suggestions about product features.  Our value is that we can deconstruct these “wish lists” into saleable features, making it easier for you to prioritize and assign business value.

Agile practices include inspection, reporting and adaption; these are skills your marketing partner has as well. Working together, the teams are unbeatable.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers!

Soon: The Launch Queen Speaks

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9 Responses to “What’s a Product Marketer Doing with the Roadmap? (Series 2 of 4)”

  1. Karol McCloskey
    April 24, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    My colleague Nina asks “Thoughts on how Agile teams should approach disruptive vs. incremental (sustaining) pdt enhancements?”

    Disruptive innovation creates obsolescence (yours or another) – what was once top of the heap is no longer in the game. Need for speed & to put your placeholder on “meeting a market need.”

    Sustaining (incremental) innovation makes a product better. A good many disruptive products go out in as MVP, to capture the market, to be enhanced in a later iterative. Must be awesome at managing the wish…er, the features list?

    Cheers!

    Agile experts – what say you? what changes are needed for each?

  2. Nina Swienton
    April 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Whichever route you take (from a product portfolio standpoint) it should align with the overall biz strategy – is disruptive innovation (i.e. Apple prod leadership approach) what is guiding you and giving you the competitive advantage or are you just one of many (similar) players but with your own unique value prop. Also, I think the two (disruptive/sustaining) should be approached very differently by prod mgmt teams. Sustaining almost always starts with an end-user telling/showing you what they need so the need already exists where disruptive either creates the need or makes the end-user realize they have the need…takes lots of exploratory research to identify this one.

  3. Alan Klement
    April 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    How about a more appropriate title: ‘What Is The Product Manager Doing With The Roadmap?’ Then follow up with ‘Why Is There A Roadmap At All’?

    Conclusion: Ditch the roadmap.

    • peter
      April 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Simple and to the point… Care to elaborate?

      • Karol McCloskey
        April 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

        Hi,

        First, let’s decide what “roadmap” is. Do we agree with this definition from Wikapedia?
        “A technology roadmap is a plan that matches short-term and long-term goals with specific technology solutions to help meet those goals.”

        Roadmaps are more often tools for ease of communication with those outside of prod dev about product strategy and the future forward. It deals with sunset products and new. W/o a map, who knows where we’ll end up and what stories will be created (you know sales will make it up).

        Love the conversation.

        Keep on, keeping on.

        • Karol McCloskey
          April 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

          Make that “Wikipedia” – fat finger/blind eye syndrome.

  4. Scott Sehlhorst
    April 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    FWIW, I think there’s a ton of value in the entire organization knowing which problems the team is intent on solving (er, creating a product that customers can then use to solve). When development (alone) is being agile, the approaches to solving the (not agile) problems change, and that may or may not impact outbound communication & positioning. When product management (also) is being agile, feedback from the market is incorporated into the roadmap – aka “getting smarter”, and the problems that the team is intent on solving (or the sequence in which the problems are being solved, or the degree to which each problem is being solved) will change too. Knowing about those changes seems (to me) to be critically important when working on a launch strategy, positioning, and all outbound communication.

    Effectively, the value prop is changing dynamically and iteratively (sometimes with disruption, sometimes through incremental advancement). The roadmap is a tool for communicating those changes.

    As Karol alludes, when someone says they “don’t want a roadmap” I assume that we aren’t using the same definition of “roadmap.” I haven’t met a team yet that thinks this communication is not worth the effort, although I have heard people say “don’t have a roadmap.” I think “don’t have a bad roadmap” is valid, but that’s another debate.

  5. Karol McCloskey
    April 30, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Hey Scott, appreciate your discussion points. One thing I should mention and highlight, is that a Roadmap is an evergreen document, it shows product direction. Roadmap updates/changes will be made due to market disruptions and velocity.

    Agile practices fit in well with Roadmaps, but not without thought to the process. Pragmatic has a slideshare/audio on this topic. Reader discussion points are good to peruse too, good stuff. I “like” the one about why “sales” using Roadmaps to determine “features” is not so great but that’s for another day. :-)

    Thanks again.

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