Product Roadmap, Focus on Outcome or Output

March 30, 2022 . 3 min read




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Building a Product Roadmap is hard.

If you went through that process a couple of times you know that you will need to balance a couple of different variables, from timelines to outcomes, prioritizations meetings and outputs, it is typically a mess and there is a lot of disagreements between teams.

For every simple timeline-driven product roadmap that you will find out there that works, I can certainly point out that you aren't driving outcomes but rather outputs. On the other hand, if you approach your roadmap with the Now, Next and Later approach focus only on outcomes, you will find amazing Product folks and colleagues that will point out that you are not making enough progress and are potentially being slow.

There are not perfect solutions, you will not be able to make everyone happy.

Product Roadmap, Now-Next-Later or Timeline

There is evidence that the now-next-later product roadmap format is better to tackle complex and perhaps mature product development life cycles. I mean, Wise publicly shares their roadmap with everyone out there, so this must be a thing? Timeline-driven roadmaps, according to Janna Bastow, can set the teams for failure and create a lot of frustrations.

But what happens if you are building something from scratch? Should you rather focus on getting stuff out? Set everything up to have a cadence of deployments and new features out every week? Be only focus on Timeline and outputs?

Well, I guess you need a balanced approach where there is a commitment around certain deliverables as long as they move the needle on the value exchange for the product that you are trying to build.

Outcomes vs Outputs

The majority of the time product folks will only talk about outcomes and how can different teams make sure their actions and activities improve the product outcomes. That is all good and, generally speaking, I totally subscribe to that, however, if you only focus on outcomes, you’ll end up failing more often than not and most times, getting to the right outcome is about increasing the output.

It always depends

For a more mature product, one might look more at outcomes and create the necessary guardrails to improve and grow the product. If, on the other hand, you are creating a product from 0 to 1, you might consider a more output-driven approach so that you can learn faster.

It depends on the maturity and life cycle of the product and what you are trying to build.

Please note that these views are my own and might not represent my employer's views.

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