Corporations , User , Scaleups — 09.16.2022

How to Evaluate if Your Product Roadmap Aligns with Your Business Goals

Lacey Lavies, Executive Partner, Product Strategy & Client Experience

Your product is live, you have product-market fit and customers are seeing your value — it’s what you’ve been waiting for as a founder.

Now that you’ve reached this milestone, you’ll likely experience the blessing and burden of customers. To keep your audience happy, you need to choose your product’s next step from a long list of potential initiatives, such as adding new features, focusing on sales enablement, addressing technical debt and more. 

You probably have 100 initiatives on your list, but budget and time limitations mean you can only complete 25.

Below is our four step framework for evaluating your roadmap, prioritizing the right initiatives and maximizing your impact.

Step 1: Validate Initiatives Against Business Goals

At the core of any product decision is a business decision. 

If your company’s goal is to double your product’s revenue this year, you must focus on features that will secure a significant number of new customers, or features that your existing customers will pay more for. Alternatively, if your company’s strategy is to “keep the lights on” for a legacy product while harvesting as much revenue as possible from it, the roadmap should reflect this.

Questions to Guide You

  • Will this initiative help reach revenue goals for the year?
  • Will this initiative help reach user growth goals?
  • Will this initiative take you a step closer to your five-year goals?

Step 2: Consider Your Market

Your market strategy should guide your product roadmap.

If an initiative is crucial for the automotive industry, but 95 of your 100 customers are retail companies, should it be on your roadmap? It depends. If you plan to grow in the automotive industry, then consider it. 

The goal is to eliminate items from your roadmap that are not in line with your company’s market strategy.

Questions to Guide You

  • Is this initiative important to the industries you’re targeting?
  • What geographical territories are you selling to?
  • Are you expanding internationally?

Step 3: Align with Buyer and User Expectations

Defining your high-level business goals and a target market will help you narrow the scope of your product direction. Your strategy may be to master your mobile experience, or to guide your user’s decision making with best-in-class analytics. 

Your ultimate goal should be to build a product that resonates with both the buyer and the user. Focus your initiatives to meet (and exceed) their expectations.

Questions to Guide You

  • What product needs to be built to resonate with your target market(s)?
  • Do you need to level the playing field with your competitors?
  • Does your product need to support mobile, or will it only be used on laptops?
  • Does your product need to support multiple languages and currencies?
  • Will this initiative be necessary as your team scales?

Step 4: Determine the Product Investment Mix for Initiatives

After you’ve confirmed your initiatives meet business goals, support your market strategy, and align with buyer and user expectations, it’s time to determine an investment mix. 

An investment mix is the percentage of time you want to devote to key themes like innovation, customer requests and technical investments/debt. 

Even if your key product strategy is to master your mobile experience, you can’t ignore the rest of your product or the continuous inflow of customer feedback.

Below are examples of themes to consider in your product investment mix, as well as potential questions to ask in this phase to align development efforts with your product strategy and business goals.

Questions to Guide You

  • What percentage of your team’s effort should be devoted towards new features and innovation?
  • What percentage of your team’s time should be devoted to competitive moves and requests from sales?
  • What percentage of your team’s effort do you want to devote to customer requests?
  • Is there technical debt that needs to be addressed? 

Reach Your Product Vision 

A strategic product roadmap will create a common understanding of your product vision, show where you’re spending money, and assist tradeoff debates. 

Learn how we help you create a product users can’t live without.