How To Create A Concrete Roadmap for Innovative Ideas

“The hard part is implementation” — that’s what I hear over and over from innovators. It is very easy to get lost and overwhelmed with decisions and nuances when you’re molding an idea into a functioning offering. A product roadmap helps you plan and align key features and goals into a clean, easily digestible format.

Instead of having concepts and action items disjointedly existing on spreadsheets and scratchpads, a product roadmap has actionable steps with quantifiable times laid out to lead to whatever your end goal(s) may be.

The Necessary Components Of A Product Roadmap

A good product roadmap needs to have certain components in order to communicate what value a product or an idea has. Here are the key components:

Timeline: Any good roadmap needs to have a tentative timetable. When assigning dates, organize them by the importance of your intended feature.

Features or Requirements: Features or requirmeents are the smaller parts of your overall idea that you think are imperative to its success within a given time period. You decide how detailed or simplistic they ought to be.

A common practice is to create a high-level feature then specify under it what other, detailed features are needed to get it to work. In layman’s terms, think group and subgroup to specifically define segments.

Prioritization: Once you have a timeline of the features you want to develop, now it’s time to prioritize your features. This requires you to assemble a potential team to bring the idea to fruition, leading to the eventual necessity of aligning the team. Team alignment comes down to balancing the opinions of all members of your assembled team while simultaneously taking into, which features your customers actually value.

Customer Value: Everything has a customer (if you’re rearranging your room, the customer is you) and that means you need to be serving up value. This is why it’s always imperative to survey your ‘ideal’ customer so that you can ensure the feature you’re expanding upon within your now fleshed out idea is relevant to your intended user.

Goals: A goal is the reason why you are focusing on specific aspects of an idea to make it viable — it is also how you know whether or not you are succeeding.

Vision: The vision can be considered the North Star of your roadmap. The vision comes down to what you think the value, tangible or intangible, will be created once you’ve brought your idea through the home stretch.

Revenue or Cost Savings: Within an organizational cotext, most projects are driven by potential revenue gain or cost savings attained — understanding the financial impacts of your idea and your roadmap is key.

Managing The Product Roadmap

The term for someone that manages the product roadmap is the Product Manager. In that case, the product is your idea and you’re its manager.

As the Product Manager, you will be responsible for stewarding an idea through to success and there are a few key duties that fall under your purview:

Identify And Assess Opportunities: Identify opportunities from various sources like customer requirements, competitor analysis, new market trends, and even crowdsourcing ideas from team members and executive management.

Conducting User And Market Research: How do you know if your idea has any merit? The only tangible way is to conduct user and market research to validate whether or not you’re on the right track. You can use a variety of tools, but the most efficient way would be some type of user research. The feedback you’ll get on these surveys is invaluable, especially in the ideation phase, to see if your idea has any legs to speak of.

Creating A Vision and Prioritizing: The most successful managers create a clear vision for the idea and roadmap that is both compelling and achievable. This is only possible once you have an in-depth understanding of the target audience’s needs and what capabilities (technologies, teams, etc.) you have at your disposal.

Team Alignment, Communication, and Internal Evangelism: Of course, this all depends on how many people you’re bringing with you on this ideation journey, but in this case, we will pretend it’s a team you’re working with.

What you need to do after you’ve made your roadmap, surveyed your audience, and have a clear vision of how to bring this to fruition, now the real managerial work begins.

You are responsible for where everything is headed, so in order to be successful, you need to make sure there is continuous communication and coordination across all teams.

You need to make sure that the team honors the product roadmap and regularly updates it.

Most importantly, you need to be proactive with any management you may or may not have above you and be prepared with any potential shortcomings or pitfalls that may come up and address them accordingly.

This way everyone sees that you are the Captain and you are leading them to the promised land: implemented ideas.

This article was originally published on the IdeaScale blog here.

IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them.