Previously, we discussed why traditional, feature-based roadmaps fail, consistently falling short of expectations and frustrating everyone involved – product teams, leadership and ultimately customers. But while we propose ditching the old approach, we also know that change can be hard.
Our experience helping Product teams transition to an outcome-based roadmaps approach has proven repeatedly that the change is worth it. Armed with the right reasons, (which you’ll learn below so keep reading) any team can pivot to leave those problematic, never-ending-features-to-do lists in the past and embrace a process that paves the way to innovation and truly impactful problem solving.
Outcome-Based Product Roadmaps – Why They Matter
Let these benefits convince you to champion this roadmap approach with your leadership and your Product team.
Customer Centric vs Top Down for Better Outcomes
An outcome-based product roadmap’s priorities are driven by an intimate understanding of client pain points rather than top-down directives. Instead of Product teams executing a list of one-off features, the outcome-based roadmap relies on customer input and closer listening to the end-users' needs to shape the forward motion. Its mantra is always Outcomes > Output.
This invaluable shift ensures you are focusing your team’s efforts on meaningful solutions instead of simply checking the box of the next “logical” feature.
And most importantly, outcome-based road mapping empowers the collective team to create better product outcomes in two ways. First, it puts product managers in the driver’s seat to map out what problems need to be solved next as they are usually closer to the customers’ needs than top-level leadership. And second, it allows your Product teams to take ownership of the problems and frees them to innovate – uncovering new ways to tackle real customer challenges through discovery - and deploy truly valuable enhancements to the customer experience.
Increases Stakeholder Trust and Buy-in
As Melissa Perri says, roadmaps are primarily communication tools and those tools can be leveraged to garner trust.
For your leadership and other internal stakeholder audiences, outcome-based roadmaps give them an articulated vision of the problems you intend to solve and are a means by which you can obtain their buy-in for the problem-solving journey ahead. They are now focused on the collective problem and not the delivery date. Once invested, your internal stakeholders become your sounding board as well as your cheerleader when the road gets rocky.
For your customers, it’s the promise of a partnership. You aren’t telling them how you will solve a given problem – you will discover that path with them over time – but it’s the first step in a collaboration to discover feasible solutions together. You aren’t bound by the chains of hard and fast deadlines, as feature-based roadmaps provide, so it creates the opportunity to change the customer-vendor dynamic. Rather than a “what do I get and when” mentality, you are able to put forward a “help me, help you” paradigm. The outcome-based roadmap approach allows you to Invite your customers to partner with you and work together iteratively to solve their toughest challenges.
Outcomes Can Be Prioritized and Measured
Typically, one-off features are impossible to prioritize against one another because they represent “apples, oranges, bananas” - a scenario of competing interests with no clear winner. Outcome-based roadmaps can be more objectively prioritized using data which illustrates the impact and pervasiveness of the problems you set out to address.
Feature-based roadmaps set up pass/fail scenarios and more often than not, the latter. If the feature isn’t delivered on time, exactly as customers expect, the deployment is considered a failure. Outcome-based allows for more nuanced measurement than the pass/fail system.
When you define your desired outcomes, you will also identify key results that will tell the team what progress, if any, you’ve made towards that outcome. Progress is rarely steady or even predictable, but the key results will give you insights so you can course correct, evolving your solutions to maximize customer value along the way.
Ready for Better Outcomes for your Organization?
We hope the benefits of outcome-based roadmaps convince you that the growing pains are well worth the effort of incorporating this method into your organization. Visit our step-by-step guide to creating an outcome-based roadmap to learn more.
Or simply contact g2o to learn how our Roadmap Revamp Workshop can train your team to evolve from outputs to outcomes through the outcome-based roadmap methodology.