10 red flags of a broken roadmap process
Your product roadmapping process is likely broken. Probably 90% of all product roadmaps are. My own roadmap processes are often broken.
Here are 10 red flags of a broken roadmap process I am constantly on the look out for:
🚩You don’t have a product researcher, and PMs didn’t talk with customers before building a roadmap. This is what I call “deciding inside four walls”.
🚩A significant % of feature ideas are coming from founders or leadership. If you don’t have a bottom-up process to ideate solutions, you’re narrowing creativity, and features are decided by those further from the customer.
🚩PMs having to "lock themselves in a room" to prepare the roadmap. If your roadmap isn’t a fluid discovery process based on what you’ve been learning, you’re doing it wrong.
🚩Stakeholders having to "lock themselves in a room" to prepare roadmap. If your stakeholders wait for roadmapping season to discuss their strategic needs, instead of having an ongoing conversations, you’re missing out on delivering value quicker.
🚩Founders/Leadership wanting a “special private session” to discuss roadmap for themselves. Pretty self-explanatory on why this is not ok.
🚩After communicating your roadmap, leaders that “didn’t get what they wanted“ start privately (or even publicly) arguing against your decisions. When this happens, you not only mismanaged expectations, but there is no trust in your process.
🚩A few weeks after presenting the roadmap you are already “tweaking” it. It’s ok to learn and change your roadmap, but this should happen post-discovery/shipping, not because “suddenly something new came up”.
🚩Roadmap showing features first (or worse, only showing features), instead of outcomes > problems > opportunities > solutions.
🚩Surprises, in terms of strategic themes. Your roadmap should be a reflection of ongoing initiatives, tied to outcomes/OKRs. If something is a surprise, you’re probably going off-track.
🚩A lack of reflection from the latest roadmap, on what was delivered and learned. If you’re not learning, and using that data as input for the future, why bother?
Not all successful products come from great roadmaps. But every bad product came from a bad roadmap.