Jim Semick is the Co-founder and Chief Strategist of ProductPlan. He is a consummate Product Manager. Jim has helped launch new products, generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Before AppFolio, Jim validated and helped launch GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting. Both of these were acquired by Citrix. Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. Jim has authored a book on the subject, aptly titled – “Product Roadmaps, Your Guide to Planning and Selling Your Strategy”. We requested Jim to come to the Product Angle Show and help demystifying roadmaps.
Demystifying Roadmaps: What is it?
Roadmaps are one of the most coveted and controversial artifacts in the trade of Product Management. There is no shortage of definitions on what is a roadmap. However, when asked for his definition, Jim described it remarkably well. He called roadmap a “living and strategic document,” that serves to articulate the what, and why for a product (and an organization). He stated that a roadmap is an organic set of themes that continues to evolve as new data and information emerges. In a classic Product Manager (PM) style, he quickly specified what does not qualify to be a Roadmap. Execution and tracking are essential for delivery, Jim pointed out that it isn’t what needs to be on a roadmap. A roadmap is not a backlog of a list of things that need to get done.
Building and Prioritizing Items on a Roadmap
Everyone in an organization wants to be part of building and contributing to a roadmap. Given multiple stakeholders, it is essential to get buy-in. A common misstep is not communicating with the stakeholders early enough. Jim shared that when building a roadmap, PMs should think of strategic themes. In addition to interacting with the stakeholders early in the process, it is also critical to communicate the prioritization framework. Helping other functions understand why something did not make it to the roadmap is vital to ensure clarity towards a shared vision.
We discuss how Jim has evolved as a Product Manager, his advice for early- to mid-career Product Managers, and much more on this session. Jim also referenced a key point from Marty Cagan around “specials.” To learn all about this please watch the video of our chat with Jim.
Whether you are new to Product Management or been creating roadmaps for years, there’s something to learn for everyone.
By the end of the session, you’ll learn about:
– What is a roadmap?
– How do you build and prioritize items on it?
– How does a roadmap help align various stakeholders?
– Best practices
Download a free digital copy of Jim’s book – “Product Roadmaps, Your Guide to Planning and Selling Your Strategy.”
Learn more about Product Roadmaps from other experts.