“Your product roadmap is the prototype for your strategy.”
- C. Todd Lombardo (From His Book Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty)
In this intensely competitive and dynamic marketplace, building comprehensive digital solutions that have the potential to fix customers' pain points is definitely a daunting task for entrepreneurs. Especially, this becomes even more challenging when it comes to developing an intuitive and influential mobile app.
As there's a way out to every problem. This issue can also be solved by focusing on strategic roadmapping in the preliminary stages of an app development project. Yes, a product roadmap is mandatory to give the right direction to a project. But why it's significant in the case of app development projects? Let's explore in detail.
Having an innovative idea isn't enough for building an impressive mobile app. In case its executed inadequately, you have to bear a considerable financial loss but also it will have a negative impact on your overall sales and brand image. This is why you need a precise strategic plan that identifies the primary goals of your product and determines ways to achieve them.
Basically, a product roadmap takes you from the point of ideation to action in a well-defined manner. Also, it's essential to make sure that your project is moving ahead in the right track and not getting lost or delayed in midway, typically kept in check by your product manager.
1. Determine the prime vision and goals of your product.
2. Specify the timeline, scope, and estimated budget for the same.
3. Become a model that helps you in executing the entire plan.
4. Act as a bridge to interconnect all the internal stakeholders of the project.
5. Convey the status and progress of the app development project.
6. Make sure to convince the external stakeholders regarding the potential in the upcoming product and the underlying strategy.
This is the very first stage of product discovery where you have to come up with a comprehensive plan for what's the core objective of your mobile app, why, and for whom. There's no need to deep dive and detailing too much. But try to align your roadmap with the strategic vision of your organization.
This stage will help you in determining the specific pain point you want to solve with your upcoming mobile app, the target audience, and app's mission. Also, it will allow you to identify the unique selling proposition (USP) of your product and prioritize the features which you actually want to incorporate in this initial stage.
It's extremely important to determine the goals of your product. But it's equally significant to sync them with key performance indicators (KPI). Remember not to keep your roadmap as a list displaying the product features.
But it should reflect the essence of the bigger picture of your company. In addition, an ideal roadmap helps you recognize the gaps where you can expand your business and add value to the lives of your customers.
You have to make your roadmap data-driven as these plans can form a robust foundation for your project. For doing this, first of all, you have to identify the success metrics and KPIs that will allow you to filter down the most integral features on which you have to pay attention to.
But remember when building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) you should concentrate on a few core metrics only. You should decide to focus either on customer success metrics or a business-oriented approach depending on the type of app you are going to build.
For instance, when focusing on customer success, you will have to give first priority to UX, features, churn rates, retention, etc. But when seeing it from the business perspective, the major areas on which you will have to concentrate would be conversion metrics, acquisition costs, revenue, etc.
Gather all the data and information from everywhere and when preparing a roadmap it's important to research your competitors and market requirements. Evaluate blog comments and reviews in order to understand users' preferences and what pain points they're facing with available products.
This is the third stage where you have to identify the major features which you want to integrate into your mobile app. Keep your product lean and begin with a preliminary version of your product that will be an MVP with bare minimum features.
You can use a popular method MoSCoW matrix for recognizing the chief features. It stands for must, should, could, and want. This method helps you to identify the core features and keep your project on the right track.
It's a good idea to arrange your deliverables into themes, for instance, high-level themes can be a group of initiatives, features, and actions you want a user to complete. Suppose your theme is "to reduce time to check-out by 40%" group the initiatives such as features, bug fixes, and enhancements together.
You can efficiently use the feedback given by your users in order to identify the aspects where your app is doing really good. Also, it gives you an idea of the areas on which you still have to work on. With the help of evaluating the feedback, you can improvise your product and make it effective enough so that the users would actually love to explore it further.
A product roadmap is not only essential to explain the strategic purpose of your app development project. But it's also helpful in enhancing the user experience and allows entrepreneurs to make better-informed decisions.