No Product Roadmaps

Continuing with yesterday’s post on Quarterly Product Themes, another area we struggled with at Pardot was product roadmaps. Early on, we tried to map things out for the product. We’d come up with an idea to do Z, and in order to Z we first needed Y, and everything was laid out beautifully. Then, a week later, this other idea/request would come up, we’d debate it vigorously and decide it was more important than an item on the roadmap. Staying close to the customer required a short feedback loop and necessitated rapid product iteration.

It was time for a change. It was time for no product roadmaps.

Instead, we had a Google Sheet with a separate tab for each department in the company and their product requests along with a GetSatisfaction idea board for customer requests. Finally, there was a Google Sheet tab for the priority product items and that constantly changed as we moved requests in and out as well as implemented new features and fixes. When a prospect or customer would ask about our product roadmap, we’d say we don’t have a detailed roadmap due to the need to stay nimble, but we’d share big broad ideas about our general strategy and product direction. The product roadmap was no more.

What else? What are some more thoughts on not doing product roadmaps?

3 thoughts on “No Product Roadmaps

  1. As an investor, what would be your (and others that you are familiar with) reaction to a startups response of “we don’t have a product roadmap”? I agree 100% about the practice of being nimble, flexible and market-focused as far a driving product priorities, but I have always believed that a lack of a roadmap would lead to poor architectural decisions potentially causing a lot of rework.

  2. Based on the successful history of your organization, you and your team “guessed right” more times than not. The downsides that we experienced when my past teams went “mapless” was we learned that your clients will lead you over a cliff if it serves their purposes, basically leading you to build a solution that fits their needs perfectly, but lacks mass market appeal. We learned quickly to qualify feedback with “would you pay extra for this” or “if you were shopping for systems today, would this increase the value”.

    Great post, thank you.

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