Creating Product Roadmaps That Align with Your Business Goals, from Remedy Point Solutions’ Igor Moliver

When you’re roadmapping a new product, it’s easy to get carried away with features and functionalities and lose sight of why your startup needed that product in the first place. Labs mentor Igor Moliver (head of product at Remedy Point Solutions), co-hosted a Labs session with Oleg Krook (RPS’ cofounder and CEO), and Peter Stein (RPS venture strategist), about MVPs, roadmapping, and seeking venture capital. Moliver shared his thoughts on what startups have to keep in mind as they put their product roadmaps together.

Your product roadmap should be driven by business decisions

The purpose of a product is to fuel your startup’s business goals, and you need to remember that when you’re creating your roadmap. “In business you're always trying to answer why you're doing something,” Moliver says. “Why are we building something? What value is it going to have for our company? On the product side it goes down similar, linear fashion. Everything you develop should have a business value to it. It should be driven by something that's going to help the business grow in some way,” Moliver says. “What are the features you're going to build that are going allow you to deliver on those larger business goals? It’s an ongoing conversation with a business stakeholder, a product manager, engineering, and design. In a startup, that could just be two people. But the key is to keep all of those perspectives in mind.”

Start with the features that you truly need and build from there

“With our various-stage companies, some of them will come to us and say, ‘I want to build a super-simple MVP,’ and then they’ll give us their list of features,” Moliver says. “We’ll talk through it and realize that what was just described was 60 features. And then we start asking, ‘Do you really need social sharing from day one? Do you need to process payments from day one?’ Think about what’s going to help you get to your users faster, validate learnings, and understand what you actually need. And again, it comes back to what you’re solving for the business by building those features.” (Read more about the essentials of creating an MVP.)

Moliver recommends a four-step roadmapping process

  1. Discover the user problems - “This can happen through user interviews, qualitative conversations or quantitative analytics,” Moliver says. “It includes research that’s both user-driven and industry-driven. The goal is to really understand what the user’s pain points are.”
  2. Define the existing solutions - “How are users currently solving their pain points? With your product or something else? What’s their best substitute?” Moliver asks.
  3. Identify gaps - Once you’ve created your list of existing solutions, “Then you look at your product and ask yourself what the gaps are between how they currently solve their problem and what your solution doesn’t have,” Moliver says. From there, you can develop your feature list.
  4. Develop your initial ideas - Once you understand the user’s pain points, know their existing solutions or other options, and explore the gaps between how they solve their problem now and what your solution is missing, you can develop your feature list, Moliver says.

Using Amazon as an example

“Let’s use Amazon delivery tracking as an example of how the four step process can be applied,” Moliver says. “The business ‘why’ could be wanting to improve the customer experience around ordering a product because the company wanted people to order more products.”

“So what were the user problems? There was little transparency around when your product was going to arrive or where it was in the delivery process. You’d order something and the existing solution was maybe getting a tracking number from UPS, and you’d have to go to a third party and type in that tracking number. And at the time the tracking number only told you when something was supposed to arrive and you’d get a window of a few days.”

“The gaps were very clear,” Moliver says. “You couldn’t see where something was in the process, you couldn’t get a narrow timeline for delivery, and it all happened outside of Amazon’s solution. To understand the features that could solve this problem, look at how Amazon works today. When you order something, you get email notifications at every step of the process. Amazon incorporates the shipment tracking in their mobile and web interfaces. And they’ve actually incorporated with UPS My Choice so you can see when your product is going to arrive, pre-sign for it, and have it arrive in a specific four-hour window.”

Your roadmap isn’t set in stone

“A roadmap is a living, breathing thing,” Moliver says. “I use a quote from one of my favorite product mentors, Marty Cagan, who said, ‘The unfortunate truth is that more than half of your roadmap will be wrong.’ That happens for a number of reasons. You may have picked something that’s too complex to engineer, or you may have picked something that’s not legally doable or doesn’t make sense from the finance side.”

“And for the half of the roadmap that is correct, you’re still not going to get it right the first time,” Moliver says. “You need to go through multiple iterations and be attuned to customer feedback. That’s why we say, ‘Treat your roadmap as a vision, not a blueprint.’ The best product managers aren’t the ones who get it right the first time—they’re the ones who are very responsive to and listen to their customers, and are flexible in their decision-making.”

Read more from the Remedy Point Solutions team:

How to Avoid Over-Engineering Your MVP,  from Remedy Point Solutions’ Oleg Krook

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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