Without a central location to organize product updates, product leaders waste time updating multiple spreadsheets and slide decks to keep their teams and stakeholders aligned. However, what can product leaders do to overcome the challenge? The key is the standardization of the product roadmap.
In this webinar, Customer Support Team Lead at ProductPlan, Zach Garfinkel, sits with Inmar Intelligence’s Senior Product Manager, Stacy Hutchins, to discuss how ProductPlan roadmaps make it easy to create standardization amongst product teams. Moreover, they will discuss the benefits of standardization.
Here are three main takeaways from the webinar. You can also watch the full webinar below.
1. Why standardization is critical for leadership teams and stakeholders
Stacey explained they needed a visual roadmap that their leadership team and stakeholders could easily digest. Moreover, with multiple products and product teams who had different ways of roadmapping, the leadership team struggled to get updates. Consequently, they could quickly understand without getting too deep in the weeds.
Standardizing their roadmapping system helped the Inmar product teams overcome this challenge. Now all teams break out product work into four swim lanes within their ProductPlan roadmaps. The swim lanes are categorized by innovation work, platform improvements, support work, and unplanned items.
They also standardized the way they used ProductPlan legends. Stacey says they kept it simple, using a universal green, yellow, and red legend to show if the work was complete, in process, or on hold.
This standardized visual roadmap helped the leadership team easily stay updated on the product team’s progress and provided the transparency they were looking for at a strategic level versus a tactical one. With a standard roadmap across products, the leadership team was now getting updates in a consistent visual format, making communication easier and more efficient.
2. How standardization empowers product with an easy-to-share story
Roadmaps should serve as a single source of truth for product strategy and workflows. By standardizing their roadmaps, product leaders have an easy-to-share product story that they can tailor to specific audiences who require varying information.
Stacy explains that standardized roadmapping helped her team set expectations with the leadership team around what updates would look like. Her team also used tags and custom fields to ensure that a deeper level of detail was available.
Stacey shares that when they made pivots in the roadmap, leaders often forget that they approved the pivot and the story behind that decision. One of the biggest benefits of standardizing things like swim lanes, legends, and tags within their roadmaps was the ability to document those changes and easily speak to them.
Stacey states, “It allows us to show [leadership] this is what happened, and this is when. And there are enough fields that allow us to say who requested it, who approved it, why we did it, and what revenue was tied to it. Whatever we need to.”
3. How standardized roadmaps improve planning and accountability
Many product organizations struggle to understand exactly where their teams spend their time and how long work takes to complete. This makes it difficult to provide accurate updates to stakeholders and effectively plan.
Stacey explains that their product organization at Inmar Intelligence standardized the way they use their project tracking tool, Azure DevOps, and the way they integrated it with ProductPlan. By using and integrating the tools consistently across the organization, the product and development teams were more accountable and were less on the defensive. They could provide factual updates about their progress and how much work and time were left until completion. The consistency also helped them manage up to leadership and stop the comparisons about why other teams work differently or seem to work at a different pace.
Inmar’s product organization also used standard swim lanes across the product organization to categorize work. This helped them see where they were spending the most time and if there was an imbalance. For example, one of their swim lanes is for unplanned work. If they see too much-unplanned work, they can adjust to ensure they don’t exceed a certain threshold. Moreover, they know they need to plan differently in the future.
For more on how and why Inmar Intelligence approached its standardization of the product roadmap, watch the full webinar below: