After going through a few sets of case-studies, I derived a prioritization framework for road mapping which would guide a team to reduce the risk of building unwanted feature over the most valuable solution in your roadmap while being on time.
The primary goal of a product manager is to align development effort with business goals and a product roadmap becomes a crucial guiding document in this process.
Ideally, a roadmap is sketched by first identifying the problems, prioritizing the solutions, and defining the success for every single solution.
1. Recognizing the problems
Before you start with your product road mapping, as a product manager you should proactively or reactively listen to your ideal customer to identify their problems.
In a typical B2B SaaS companies, the best channels to identify customers’ problem is to take input,
- Directly from the customer — talk to them in the forums, events or one-on-one interviews.
- Customer Success Team — no one could give you more profound insights than product’s Customer Success team.
- Support tickets — reviewing your support tickets, talking to your Customer Support team.
- Feedback from beta users
- Sales team — understand what problems your prospect is looking to solve the most.
Once you have identified the problems, prioritising them depending on,
- Severity (S) — How significant is the pain?
- Extensiveness of that problem (E) — How frequently and how much is this problem extended across your users’ persona?
2. Identifying multiple solutions for the problems
Once you have prioritised the problems, quickly catch-up with your engineering team, design team and sales team and take inputs on what could be the best way to solve these problems. Ideally, in an organisation, a product manager tries to create solutions and pitch the PRDs to the stakeholders to get buy-in, but remember multiple solutions to a problem are always better than a single solution.
- Differentiator (D) — How unique is the solution compared to your competitor?
- The cost to implement © — The engineering effort needed to build the solution.
- Risk (R) — Technology risk, team skill capability risk.
- Adoption Barrier (A) — How difficult is the solution to get adopted by your user?
After you have scored your solution against the differentiator factor, the cost to implement it, the risk factors involved, and the adoption barriers, use the following formula to identify the solution which could gain higher priorities in your roadmap,
( S + E + D) — (C + R + A). Higher is better.
Always consider users’ persona while prioritizing a solution
Always keep in mind for whom you are building a solution. In B2B SaaS business, there is never a single persona to whom you are developing the product. Following are the multiple personas,
- User Persona — the one who uses your product majorly.
- Buyers Persona — the one who makes buying decision in an organisation. In a majority of the B2B use case, the user might not be making the buying decisions.
- Internal Persona — for example, sometimes you have to invest in solving problems of your development team which would help them to release new features faster.
- Sales Team Persona — sometimes you need to think of solutions which could help your sales team to sell your product quickly.
While prioritising a solution, always make sure it fits well across all the persona mentioned above.
Considering the stage of a product while planning a solution
If a product is in its growth phase, then the focus should be on features/problems that bring in more customer acquisition . In scaled business phase, a product manager should concentrate on features/problem that retains the customers and reduces the churn.
Once you have scored and prioritized the solutions
- Add them to your roadmap
- Break them into themes, epics, user stories and tasks.
- Assign story points so that you can efficiently track development velocity.
- Define KPIs for each item in your roadmap. Define success and plan on the measures to keep listening to your customers.
Ultimately, a roadmap has to be like The Bhagavad Gita or The Bible for your product, which should help to compete with the best and retain a competitive edge in the industry.