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Roadmapping Within the Context of the Product Strategy

Scott Sehlhorst
Reading: Roadmapping Within the Context of the Product Strategy

Subdividing the work into tasks is the wrong way to go about it when you’re trying to provide iterative and incremental value to your organization and/or the user. Watch this video to learn about the impact this could have on your Product Strategy.

Video Transcript

When I start with the Epic. What I’m talking about is an investment vehicle, a justification for doing something. There’s an opportunity in the marketplace I want to go exploit. I have my business case, I had my value proposition, success criteria. All of these terms sound familiar from our product management world, how we decide what to work on, right? Things that are valuable to the organization. That’s sort of our valuable piece. If we do stuff that’s not valuable to us, we don’t really have a viable business. We’re not going to be around for very long. So what about desirable? So that’s basically saying we have users, customers, they have problems they’re trying to solve. Those customers and those problems exist whether or not our company exists, whether or not our product exists, right? There’s, it’s, I don’t know, it’s like a product humility that we want to use to approach how we engage in the market.

We break them up into smaller Stories and we execute against them, right? So one Epic is a bunch of Stories. We have sort of the same logic, but with a twist. You take one Epic and break it up into a bunch of Features. Each of those Features you can break up into a bunch of Stories. So if you’re not a product person at the surface it just looks like decomposition of the same sort of thing. But it’s a little bit more than that and we need to know that that. It’s Capturing what’s the value proposition to us, why are we doing this stuff? What is it we’re going to build and what is it our users care about doing, right? That’s where our User Stories come into play. So this is sort of the bones and the structure of the way we talk about the things we’re choosing to do from a high level of abstraction down to hands on keyboard, Sprint by Sprint. Roadmaps and Release Plans are different things. Roadmaps are sort of talking thematically about Epics. What are our objectives? What does that look like against a calendar?

Release Plan. How do we schedule the things we’re building? Because there are some people who want to talk about the things we’re building, not the reasons we’re building. And then Stories. That’s what we all think about in Sprint by Sprint, in our Scrum team or in our Kanban, however we’re executing, right? These are the things that we chip away at every two weeks. All of that’s happening in the context of our product strategy. That said, think about that as sort of how we think about framing our work and a Roadmap is a piece of that. Look at a backlog, look at a Release Plan of Features, right? So same thing here. Look at our Roadmap of Epics and say, first release, second release, third release, right? Just split it up into thirds. We’re just subdividing the work. It’s just a bunch of tasks.

It’s exactly the wrong way to do it if what we’re trying to do is deliver incremental value to us or to our user, right? The challenge is for us to figure out slices of meaningful value, right? So our focus in the Roadmap here is around having conversations that say we’re going to work on this problem area first and this problem area second. We’re going to work on this part of the customer journey first and this part second. We’re going to work on this persona first, this one second. This goal of theirs first, this one second, right? The deep understanding of what our customers are trying to do and how we can sequence things in conjunction with the commercial viability of those different choices we could make. How do we prioritize? So we’re delivering the most valuable things first. Managing a risk, managing value in terms of de-risking our plan, value in terms of accelerating revenue recognition, right? Whatever our framework for value is…it’s focusing on those meaningful subdivisions of value. How do we truly get iterative and incremental and not just what the work up So then the conversations we’re focusing on within our Roadmap are not just how do I make and meet commitments, but rather which things come first and how we manage expectations and sequencing, and go to market strategies.

Next Being of Service to Those Who Have Served w/ Jim Sutton

Scott Sehlhorst continues to build on over 25 years experience working in mechanical engineering, software development, and product management & strategy consulting.

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