When a company purchases a product, significant time and resources go into adopting that product. Companies want reassurance that their investment of time and resources will deliver benefits not just today, but for several years to come, and that the company is committed to continuing to enhance and develop the product in the future.
Companies also want to be able to formulate their own IT strategy, but if you don’t know what’s coming, you can’t adequately plan for the future. A product roadmap provides a window into future innovation that can support and guide your future business plans and technology initiatives.
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a mid to high-level description of the direction of products or services in the future. If you’re looking for a particular feature, you should be able to find it on the product roadmap and identify when it is coming.
However, a product roadmap communicates much more than that. It shows you the company’s values, and its opinion and vision on the important trends in the industry. What’s on the roadmap and when it’s scheduled to be implemented tells you what the company believes are the most important features for their customers and prospective customers, based on current customer pain points and anticipated future pain points, according to market trends.
Why do product or solution roadmaps matter?
When you buy a product, you generally know that the product will meet your needs today—otherwise, you wouldn’t buy it. But the investments you make in products and services tend to be long-term commitments, and you want to know the company behind the product has plans to continue innovating and enhancing the product.
Although there are no guarantees, a product roadmap can be a good indication of whether the product and company will meet your future technology and business needs. Having a roadmap not only demonstrates that the company is thinking about the future of a product, but also provides a glimpse into the company’s assumptions about key challenges that will impact the market in the future. If a roadmap includes valuable capabilities you hadn’t even considered, that shows market and industry leadership.
What are the benefits of product roadmap transparency?
Product roadmap transparency gives the customer assurance that the company is thinking beyond the next release. It also allows customers to plan. It’s not uncommon for companies to upgrade once a year instead of quarterly. By knowing the roadmap, customers can pick the optimal timing for that upgrade project gain access to key features and functionality.
Product roadmap transparency also enables customers to evaluate how a company manages their roadmap and the maturity of their product management process. Most roadmap features shared with customers should deliver as planned, although some adjustments to reflect changing market conditions are not unusual. On the other hand, if every time you see the roadmap it looks completely different, then you know the roadmap isn’t reliable.
What qualities should customers look for in a product roadmap?
A good product roadmap should focus on value to customers, either through new capabilities (e.g. analytics capabilities or a new API) or addressing key customer needs (e.g. security certification, or support for a key document format). You should look for a balance of features and functionality you know you need and some visionary or cutting-edge enhancements.
Companies should also be open to talking about their roadmap and employees should be able to speak with great specificity about what’s planned for the next few quarters. A great example of this is OpenText EVP and Chief Product Officer Muhi Majzoub’s annual innovation keynote at OpenText World. The keynote provides an overview of what’s planned for OpenText products in the coming quarters and looks back on what was delivered over the past year, giving customers the ability to evaluate our progress and product management process.
How can customers influence a company’s product roadmap?
Customer needs drive product roadmaps. A prime way customers can influence a roadmap is simply by sharing current challenges and business objectives. A great opportunity to provide high-impact feedback to companies is at their conferences, events like OpenText World. Attending events like OpenText World not only gives you access to the sessions and keynotes, but it also gives you access to people. Connecting with employees at company events gives you access to the people who can help you find yourself on the roadmap. Customers can also join product advisory boards, customer advisory boards, or provide feedback in their quarterly business reviews.
Learn more about how OpenText partners with organizations to drive impactful transformations.