3 public roadmap benefits you probably haven’t thought of

· 8 min read
3 public roadmap benefits you probably haven’t thought of

The phrase “public roadmap” makes plenty of product people cringe.

There’s many concerns around making product roadmaps readily accessible for anyone. We’ve even written about some of them.

These concerns are completely natural, and should be addressed with everyone. Making a roadmap public is a big move, and you want to make sure your whole team is on board.

To help you do that, we’ve created a survey that you can use with your team. It’ll help you ask the right questions and start a discussion around public roadmaps.

Share this public roadmap survey with your team

However, we’re not going to be talking about concerns in this post. We’re going to talk about the benefits.

There’s a twist, though.

The twist: it’s all about you

Most companies focus on transparency for stakeholders as the main benefit of having a public roadmap. For some awesome pieces on transparency, check out BufferHolistics, and Front, for example.

This makes sense—a public roadmap insinuates that it’s mostly there to benefit the public.

As advocates of everything transparent, we obviously agree with this. Our roadmap is public, too!

However, there’s a whole other stack of benefits that comes with having a public product roadmap. The kind of benefits that help with your company’s wellness, bottom line, and growth.

These benefits are ones you shouldn’t disregard, as selfish as it might seem. Especially if you’re trying to convince yourself or your team to make your roadmap public.

Let’s be real—we all secretly care about ourselves first. And that’s completely fine. It doesn’t have to take away from pleasing your customers at all.

So, let’s be selfish, and talk about why public product roadmaps benefit you.

3 ways a public product roadmap benefits your business

You can use these points to:

  • Explain to your product team why having a public product roadmap is pretty awesome.
  • Start a discussion about having a public roadmap in your company.
  • Use them as food for thought for any future endeavors.
  • Solidify your own support for public roadmaps when explaining it to others.
  • Sit in your giant leather chair and snicker as you make your roadmap public. Soon, you shall reap the rewards.

Whatever you choose to do. We’re here to support you.

Selfish public roadmap benefit 1: less time wasted on building the wrong things

One of the most dangerous things (product) teams can do is making a product their “baby”.

You built it, and you designed it. You raised it to behave well. You put a lot of time and effort into it ever day. It’s a part of you. You’re proud. Nobody talks smack about your baby.

Some product owners become so attached to their “baby” that they refuse to listen to anything even mildly critical or constructive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a customer, an investor, or another teammate.

It’s their baby, and they know better.

However, 42% of startups fail because of no market need.

This means that everyone should be very inclined to base their roadmap on users, not their own preferences, beliefs, or attachments.

If customers aren’t involved, you’re not building a product for them. You’re building a product for you.

This will destroy your business.

Now that we’ve established why customer and user insight is critical, let’s see why not having a public roadmap is bad in this case.

According to a 2016 survey by Pragmatic Marketing, here are the business activities product managers spend most time on:

Source: Pragmatic Marketing

The most time is spent on understanding market problems. This means product managers:

  • Going out and finding customers to talk to
  • Showing them the roadmap (which involves giving special access to it)
  • Asking for feedback on this private roadmap (which is extra effort for the customer)
  • Asking for feedback again (because your users have more important things to do than look at your secret roadmap)
  • Documenting it
  • Following up

That’s a lot of time that could be spent on building better products.

How your business will benefit from making your roadmap public

If your roadmap is public and open to feedback:

  • Users can chime in themselves, especially if they feel like their feedback is actually important
  • Product managers have to spend less time reaching out to users and prying what they want out of them
  • Not only will they have more time to actually build features, they’ll be building the right ones

Selfish public roadmap benefit 2: less bickering between teams

Internal roadmaps tend to be very development-centric. They’re not built to be looked at by a “normal” person. They’re there mostly for the product team to keep track of their work.

However, that’s what external-facing teams have to do—communicate it to “normal” people.

Who’s going to be helping them “translate” it, providing extra information, and help out? The product team.

Can anyone from any team just drop whatever they’re doing to deal with someone else’s “urgent” issue? No.

Are people going to be waiting for information for ages? Yes. Who’s going to be pissed? Everyone.

Weekdone made a sweet infographic about 10 ways to improve team communication.

Here are the biggest time wasters when it comes to communication within a team:

Source: Weekdone

There are three very relevant issues here:

  • Waiting for information
  • Inefficient coordination
  • Unwanted communications

Does this mean your team shouldn’t communicate with each other at all? Of course not.

But, there’s no need for unnecessary back and forth.

How your business will benefit from making your roadmap public

All teams will have access to the roadmap, both:

1. Internally, to use it to coordinate their own work
2. Publicly, to instantly share it with customers, potential customers, and other stakeholders

Product folks don’t have to stop what they’re doing every 5 seconds to specify, translate, and communicate.

Other teams don’t have to blow a fuse while waiting for product team to get back to them while a customer is waiting.

Less wasted time = less wasted money.

Selfish public roadmap benefit 3: more new customers with less effort

Public roadmaps aren’t good just for existing customers. They can also be super effective at reeling in new ones.

There are two main ways a public roadmap can help bring in potential customers:

1. People stumble upon it themselves

Especially with picking new SaaS software, people tend to do extensive research first. One of the most important factors of choosing a software is (number of) features.

Source: Databox

However, there’s barely ever a “perfect” solution for anything. Most options are still missing this or that—little things maybe, but still things.

Let’s say there are two options on the table, both with slight faults. Most customers don’t necessarily reach out to ask you if you’re ever going to work on them. They’ll just go for the prettier/cheaper one.

If your roadmap is public and accessible to them with no effort, they can see what’s coming up.

If you’re planning on fixing the “faults” they found with your product, they’ll choose you.

If you’re not, well, then you wouldn’t be the best fit for their use case anyway. They’ll save themselves lost money, and you’re saving yourself a churned customer.

2. People who DO ask about it

Some people do ask about your plans with the product.

We’ve all heard “I’m only going to pay y’all if you build this thing in the near future” at some point.

With a public roadmap, you can either show them:

  • Yes, we will be building this thing, and all these other cool things!
  • No, but look at all these other cool things. Maybe those will give you an alternative solution for what you need?

How your business will benefit from making your roadmap public

You’ll be able to show the value you’ll be adding to both potential customers you do interact with as well as the ones you don’t.

There will be less hesitation when researching on the customers’ side. Deals can be closed much faster. Communication between customer-facing teams and customers themselves will be smoother.

Don’t be afraid to think about yourself

Yes, transparency is important. Your (potential) customers will be stoked to see that you’re open and honest about your plans.

Nobody can ever take that respect away from you.

However, it’s okay to think about yourself, too. A public roadmap can bring you new, qualified business that is much less likely to churn.

It’ll help you make better decisions and waste less money.

And, it’ll make life much easier for people working to communicate your greatness to the world.

Don’t forget to grab that survey template to start the discussion about making your roadmap public with the team.

Need an easy way to build and present your public product roadmap?

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Elen Veenpere

Marketer at Canny. Elen enjoys drinking unnecessary amounts of coffee, typing words, and filling out marketing spreadsheets.

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Elen Veenpere

Marketer at Canny. Elen enjoys drinking unnecessary amounts of coffee, typing words, and filling out marketing spreadsheets.

All Posts

Canny is a user feedback tool. We help software companies track feedback to build better products.

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Elen Veenpere

Marketer at Canny. Elen enjoys drinking unnecessary amounts of coffee, typing words, and filling out marketing spreadsheets.

All Posts