How to Build Strategic Roadmaps by Envoy Product Leader, Peter Mullen

Establish a product vision.

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision" - Helen Keller

Creating a product vision is the key to a solid strategic roadmap. The right product vision ensures that you are solving the right problems for the right set of customers or users. If you then align what you are doing in your roadmap and development efforts with that vision, you will ensure that everything you do is aligned with that vision. And you will understand more clearly how to stay focused on your goals.

Establish a product vision

Your product vision should

  • Be customer-focused

  • Focus on where you want your product to be (even if it`s a stretch)

  • Be differentiated

  • Last for a longer time horizon (e.g. 3-5 yrs)

  • Be aligned with the larger organization.

Set SMART goals

"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." - Tony Robbins

Ask yourself what specific goals you can achieve that will help you reach your vision. Goals are very important because they give you focus, help you choose between the different priorities you might be thinking of doing, help you measure progress, help your team stay motivated.
An intelligence framework is something that can be applied on its own or in combination with other goal setting methodologies.

How to set goals?

  • Use a framework like OKRs (with assigned ownership)

  • Set company OKRs

  • Set team OKRs that can drive company OKRs

  • Set individual OKRs that can drive team OKRs

Roadmap for your initiatives

"All you need is a plan, a roadmap, and the courage to go to your destination." - Earl Nightingale.

Come up with the main initiatives most likely to help you reach your goals.

Define what the high level scope is for each initiative.

With each initiative put forward in this way, you begin to drastically prioritize the initiative over others and determine which ones are most helpful in achieving your goals and vision.

Prioritize the initiatives based on impact & effort & prioritize (RICE, Impact vs Effort, etc.)

How to prioritize initiatives?

  • Are they aligned to your vision & goals?

  • Think about return on investment (ROI)

  • RICE

  • Value vs Effort

  • Kano Model

  • Story mapping - good for building MVPs

Get a sense of release / timeline

Look at all initiatives and team resourcing and put it all together

Measure results

"If you can not measure it, you can not improve it." - Lord Kelvin

How to measure results

  • Ensure your product has instrumentation

  • Focus on your "north star metric"

  • Measure against the right "customer/user segment".

  • Types of metrics include:

  • Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue

  • Drive transparency by building dashboards that everyone can access

  • Review results with the broader team.


"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing" - Henry Ford

Repeat so your roadmap isn't static. This develops over time and should be assessed on a monthly basis, even if you do monthly and quarterly planning, it is important as a PM to reflect on this on a monthly basis.
For brand new startups, you may want to evaluate your roadmap on a monthly basis. The decisions you make at the start of a company's development are some of the most important decisions you have to make. You must quickly adapt. So the iteration part means making sure you spend time on quick actions that go beyond. You need to make sure you set the right time for this in case of any unexpected changes that you may want to adapt to based on user feedback. The client must provide feedback throughout this process, and you must explore this qualitative and quantitative feedback from clients about your vision and your initiatives and functions within these initiatives. You should always discuss both problems and solutions with clients at every stage, and make sure you have time to improve as needed. Once you start living with this feature, there are always things you can do to improve it.

How to iterate

  • Release features early and often

  • Review results from your product analytics and take action

  • Get customer feedback

  • Set up a Beta program

  • Analyze customer feedback & identify areas of improvement

  • After you release, dedicate scheduled time to "fast follows" or additional milestones within the initiative

  • Follow through.

Some practical tips

Tips for success

  • Get started, take at least an hour a week to bootstrap your road map

  • Focus on your customers, talk to them, get feedback

  • Don`t let perfect be the enemy of good

  • Start at the top down, everything you do should support your company mission

  • Reflect regularly, spend time monthly updating the road map

  • Beat the drum... align internally every month, and validate with customers anytime you can

  • Document everything! It helps to use a road mapping tool

Key takeaways

Wrapping up...

  • Prioritize outcomes over output

  • Align the organization and features with your vision

  • Measure results and iterate on your approach

Peter Mullen, Envoy Product Leader