Updated: April 26, 2023 - 6 min read
A Product Roadmap is a staple in a company’s planning, but oftentimes Product Teams struggle to manage competing priorities in the process. Leveraging advanced data analytics as the driving force, Product Teams can build a smarter roadmap that will lead to better outcomes.
As a baseline, a Product Roadmap outlines the game plan for the product long-term—the vision, strategy, direction, priorities and key dates to get there that all teams use as their “bible.” Stakeholders can track milestones and product priorities. Development can stay on schedule with high-value deliverables. Marketing can communicate to customers about upcoming features. And the list goes on.
Ultimately, the Product Roadmap turns a company’s Product Strategy into a realistic, cohesive and linear plan. What shouldn't it be? A Product Roadmap should NOT be an exercise in impulsive decision making, guesswork, pet projects and other distractions that don’t align with the company goals.
A modern, effective Product Roadmap has these three qualities:
Driven by customer-focused insights and data
Leverages data to back up product feature prioritization
Reflects team alignment to support company business objectives
Why Product Roadmaps without data fail
A Product Roadmap can go south quickly when it’s not data-driven, leading to big problems across teams around consensus, prioritization, differentiation and growth. Worse yet, poor output can have a negative effect on your most important stakeholder: your customers.
There are five consequences when data is not front and center in your Product Roadmap:
Low feature adoption and/or engagement. If customers don’t know or care about the new feature, you've wasted time, effort and resources for teams to work on the project.
Out-of-touch product feature priorities. If the data is telling you what features will have the biggest impact on revenue and company goals, that’s exactly what the Product Roadmap should follow.
Under-delivering to customers leads to churn. When your product and/or features don’t focus on what your customers want and need (and what you’ve promised), they’ll lose trust and jump ship to a competitor.
The product won’t sustain business goals. If your Product Roadmap isn’t focused on fixing high-impact product issues, it’s not maximizing product output, ROI and sidelines business objectives.
Company viability will be at risk. Not following the data can lead to creating a product that isn’t sustainable, lacks customer interest or support and isn’t a market fit. The end result can be shrinking revenue and ultimately, company failure.
How to build a data-driven Product Roadmap
It’s clear that there are a lot of reasons data is such an integral part of Product Roadmap planning. Following advanced Product Insights instead of subjective prioritization results in a customer-centric plan, backed up by data, and is much more likely to succeed. Below are three steps to help you build a data-driven Product Roadmap.
1. Gather actionable feedback
There's no good substitute for real input from current customers. This is the richest source of insights a Product Manager can count on—no guesswork or relying on past surveys. Find out where your biggest customer churn is, what feature is causing users to struggle or abandon your site or app altogether and even where customers are experiencing the highest satisfaction. Here are some of the best, most reliable ways to gather feedback:
Customer-facing salespeople or technical teams with regular and ad hoc feedback
Customer check-ins to go deep into their product experiences and pain points
Voice of the customer (VoC) or other survey tools that provide an accurate product pulse
A digital experience intelligence platform (like Glassbox!) to understand your customers’ direct feedback. Customer feedback can be vague or disconnected from the experiences that inspired it, limiting the actions your customer experience (CX) team can take. A digital experience intelligence platform can tie feedback to specific user sessions to see exactly what customers experienced and why, something that’s impossible with a standalone VoC tool. VoC tools integrate with digital experience intelligence platforms so you don’t have to cross-reference two tools. One tool gives you the complete picture.
Having this data lets Product Managers be informed earlier on so they aren’t left to guess, which allows for a more data-driven and accurate approach.
2. Analyze the data
As a Product Manager, it’s important to be able to interpret the data and turn it into action. Is there a common theme you’re seeing from the data? That should drive your Product Roadmap priorities—whether it’s fixing an issue or recommending a more advanced feature.
One of the most effective and reliable “shortcuts” is the actionable data that you can get from a digital experience intelligence platform. Unlike standalone Product Analytics tools, digital experience intelligence gives you instant access into not just the what, but the why, so you can spend time and resources on products and features that your customers demand—not what you think they want, your personal wish list or easy wins. These advanced Product Insights can also help you identify where to differentiate from the competition and how to de-risk when taking a new approach.
3. Prioritize features objectively
As powerful as second-hand feedback from customers through sales and others is, the Product Manager is still tasked with parsing out the high-value information from the less critical feedback. Prioritizing features objectively removes the guesswork and emotional reactions some stakeholders might have, especially when there’s an endless stream of user requests. A digital experience intelligence solution gives Product Managers the ability to assign value to the product backlog based on captured user behavior and revenue considerations.
A Product Roadmap that resonates
Leading with data for your Product Roadmap will ensure you have the right balance of product backlog and product innovation to meet—and exceed—your customers’ expectations. Advanced Product Insights provide the foundation for customer-centric teams to maintain a clear focus and see, hear and understand the true customer experience—and make it better.
All roads to a strategic, well-prioritized and successful Product Roadmaps lead back to data.
Updated: April 26, 2023