As a company who builds tools to build product roadmaps, we’re pretty open about our own roadmapping processes.
Additionally, because our users are product people like us, we’re pretty comfortable sharing what’s on our roadmap.
Being so transparent and communicative with our users has proven to be hugely helpful in setting our direction and understanding what we need to be building and improving on.
About the ProdPad roadmap
If you’re not familiar with a lean product roadmap, the first thing you might notice is that we have no promises of dates on our roadmap. Instead, we’re using the roadmap as a strategic communication tool, showing high-level areas we’re going to be tackling, structured in relative priorities as they relate to Current, Near term, and Future plans. We’ve talked a lot about Roadmapping without Dates before, and we find this method to be the best mix of articulating product direction without getting stuck in the details.
Without further ado, here’s a snap of our current roadmap:
People were resetting their passwords a lot, sometimes two or 3 times in a row. We couldn’t figure out why people were struggling to get in, but when we looked a little deeper, we realized that a good 30% of users were logging in with their email address.
Now, what’s wrong with that, you ask?
It turns out that some flip decision we made in the early days of ProdPad resulted in us requiring the use of a username instead of an email for logging in. For a while, we thought nothing of it, until we started seeing the pattern and it’s effects.
When we saw the 30% figure, our eyes bulged: We were kicking off error messages for nearly every third person who came back to use ProdPad, and in many cases, losing their attention as they got stuck into the ‘Reset Password’ flow.
We had a couple options:
1) Make it clearer that the username is to be used at login, not the email address.
2) Pave the cowpath.
We decided to pave the cowpath.
Desire lines in User Behaviour
A (traditional) cowpath is the line in the grass that cows make as they forge their way through the field in a particular route. A herd of cows, like your users, will try to take the easiest path they can see, even if it means trampling the grass or cutting corners.
It leaves you with an unsightly line in your lawn… or in our case, unsightly drops in usage at the point of logging in! The path that they choose to take, in UX terminology, is often called a desire line or a cowpath.
Paving the cowpath, then, refers to changing or improving your app design to allow people to go the direction they were trying to go anywhere. Don’t penalize your users! Instead, help them get to where they wanted to go with as little hassle as possible.
Finding a Desire Line
If a user gets something wrong, I generally assume it’s something wrong with the app, not with the person.
In our case, even if the login page was technically working to spec, it still wasn’t right. It wasn’t working in a way that users were able to use consistently and without error, and so we took the approach to assume it needed to be updated.
Never underestimate the power of adding a little bit more tracking, as it proved very useful when it comes to troubleshooting. In our case, we used Papertrail to dig through the log files and ping us when something went wrong.
From there, it was just a little pattern recognition and common sense (the type of thing Product Managers are great at!).
Following the fix, we’re seeing significantly fewer login errors, fewer customer inquiries about login issues, and have freed up a chunk of time to focus on finding and improving other metrics.
Have you ever found and paved a cowpath? Let us know in the comments!
In association with General Assembly, we’re offering you the chance to meet George Berkowski, Head of Product at Hailo and one of the speakers at our Mind the Product 2013 conference.
Dine and Pitch
Enter for a chance to pitch your startup idea and get a ton of product feedback from London’s top product pros over a private dinner at Duck and Waffle.
Enter your 140 word pitch by April 21st.
The Prize Package
One lucky winner will receive:
- A private dinner and pitch session with George Berkowski (Head of Product, Hailo), Janna Bastow (Co-Founder, ProdPad) and Kate Leto (Instructor, General Assembly)
- Two free tickets to an upcoming Product Management Workshop at GA London, taught by Janna Bastow.
Duck & Waffle
Head Chef Daniel Doherty
Located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle made its debut in the London restaurant scene in the summer of 2012. Inspired by broad European and British influences and spirit, the restaurant’s vibrant atmosphere encourages a convivial experience for guests through its array of dishes designed for sampling and sharing. Head Chef Daniel Doherty places emphasis on local, rustic, seasonal and sustainable British ingredients, manifested in daily inspirations created from the market’s freshest offerings.
Check your calendar
If you’re in town on Tuesday, April 9th, there’s a ProductTank event happening. Come for a free round of drinks and a chance to chat with a bunch of other product people. RSVP for ProductTank
If Wednesday works best for you, there’s another meetup where Simon will be demoing ProdPad and talking about where we’re taking future development. RSVP for StartupProduct
Coffee (or a drink!) on us, any time
Regardless, if you’re in the area, we’d like to meet you! Get in touch for a coffee or a drink at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re happy to demo ProdPad to your team, give product management advice, or just generally chat. Let us know when works for you!
Not in San Francisco?
Meet us in your city! Find out where we’ll be next
The ProdPad development lab has been hard at work to make life easy for Product Managers. We know that the hardest part of any product management role is determining exactly what should be built and when, compiling that knowledge into an easy-to-understand product roadmap, and then getting everyone to buy into the latest roadmap updates.
Our earlier versions of the product roadmap tool were designed to help communicate to your team and to other stakeholders what was coming up in the product development pipeline. It allowed a Product Manager to link their roadmap to their product backlog, mapping their development work to Current, Near term, and Future initiatives.
And while it was easy to use for any Product Manager, allowing them to build a product roadmap and share it with their team, we wanted to make it even better…
The Roadmap that Builds itself
We now take your backlog of ideas, and with highly advanced big data crunching algorithm technology, automagically render a complete and accurate product roadmap.
The predictive technology will set in place an accurate picture of what your development team should be working on now, and in the future, with a higher degree of certainty than ever presented in a product team before.
Our technology finally captures what product managers around the world never thought possible.
Gain buy-in from ALL stakeholders
The Auto-Roadmap Tool not only builds itself, but also covers for the hardest part of the Product Manager’s job: Getting complete buy-in from your team.
Upon completion of the roadmap, ProdPad’s Auto-Roadmap Tool will email each of your important stakeholders, informing them of the important roadmap updates that have been put in place and gently letting them know which of their suggestions and requests have been
ignored left out. It does this using advanced natural language processing and AI, processing their initial request, comparing it to the product specs and your company’s product vision, and compiling an automated tailored response to each of your team members, clients, and Board members who’d otherwise question the new roadmap.
We set out to change the face of product management, and to finally build that tool that every product manager was waiting for – something to create their product roadmap and garner buy-in while they worked on the important things… like setting the Product Vision and finding the best flat white in town. – Simon Cast, ProdPad Development Lab
Update: As a bunch of people correctly guessed, this is an April Fool’s joke! While the idea of a tool that *automagically* creates a roadmap with no input sounds like it might make everyone’s lived easier, it’s simply not possible…. yet! In the meantime, we’re providing tools to help you understand where your product needs to go, what the relative priorities of various ideas and feature requests are, and put it together in a simple drag and drop product roadmap.
The post Introducing the Auto Roadmap Tool – Product Management Automagic! appeared first on ProdPad - Product Management Software.
Marty Cagan recently wrote about his frustration with the all-to-common process of creating product roadmaps, the process of painstakingly putting together a ‘plan’ for the coming months and quarters, signed off by a vast set of stakeholders.
His article on the Inconvenient Truths of Product resonated with us, as he outlined two very good reasons why this style of roadmapping simply doesn’t work:
“The first such truth is that at least half of our ideas are just not going to work.”
“If that’s not bad enough, the second inconvenient truth is that even with the ideas that do prove to be valuable, usable and feasible, it typically takes several iterations to get the implementation of this idea to the point where it actually delivers the expected business value.”
As we’ve mentioned before, our previous version of the product roadmap tool was built with the intention to help organise these ‘old style’ roadmaps, quarter-by-quarter, month-by-month, on a feature-level granularity. We got that all wrong.
Last year, we released a new version of the roadmap that suits us and our users much better. It throws out the notion that your roadmap needs to be so granular, and accepts the uncertainty that will always exist when building a product.
Marty Cagan very accurately sums up those two inconvenient truths and urges product teams to embrace them.
The ProdPad Roadmap Tool is designed with these facts in mind, with the goal of helping you embrace the fact that you don’t know exactly what should be in your long-term product plans. We want you to remain flexible while still providing your team with a sense of product direction. As a result, our roadmap software features the following:
- Three columns: Current, Near term, and Future
You can rename these if you wish, but they are purposely given high-level, non-date-specific titles so as not to imply promises of delivery that just aren’t certain. However, they still provide your team with the insight they need to keep moving in the right driection.
- Time versus Certainty axes
A concept for roadmaps we first heard about at a talk at ProductCamp London, organises your roadmap items by time and by the likelyhood that you’ll get to them. Drag and drop roadmap cards across columns or above and below other cards to build out and update your roadmap.
- High-level ‘Roadmap Cards’ instead of features
Features are simply too granular and likely to change, and just end up cluttering the roadmap. Rather, with the ProdPad roadmap creation tool, you create Roadmap Cards, which represent high-level chunks of work to be completed. These are less likely to change on a weekly basis, and allow you to associate any number of ideas or features to the cards, giving you that crucial link to your product backlog.
Are you embracing these inconvenient truths and changing your roadmapping habits? We’d love to get your feedback. Get in touch at email@example.com any time!
You’ve found your way to ProdPad, and are now using it to manage your products:
- You’ve got a backlog of ideas and feature requests that you can now easily sift, sort and search your way through,
- you’ve recorded a bunch of info about your product, your personas, and even your users’ feedback,
- and you’re building up a product roadmap that will help you lead the way.
But one important ingredient is still missing: Buy-in from your team, perhaps those up above you.
Getting buy-in on a Product Manager tool
Yes, you can invite your team to your ProdPad account the good old fashioned way, but sometimes what you really want is to capture someone’s attention and get them sold on the idea that they should join you in this new way of managing your products.
This is why we’ve built the Share feature, which allows you to share any of the following with a new or existing team member:
- Idea - about your Idea Canvas
- Product Canvas – about your Product Canvas
- Product Roadmap – about your Product Roadmap
- User Persona – about your User Personas
- Priorities Graph – about your Priorities Graph
Improving your Product Management process
To use it, simply the ‘Share this’ button on any of these pages, and choose who you’d like to send the page to.
The person you share the page with will receive a link directly to that page. If they are already a user in your ProdPad account, they’ll head straight to the page itself. If they aren’t yet a user in ProdPad, they’ll get an invitation to join, helping them easily create an account so they can jump in on the discussion you’re starting.
Use the ‘Share this’ button to give anyone on your team a direct link to what you’re working on at that moment.
This should make your product management process even easier!
If you have any feedback or questions, reach us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your product is the result of both internal and external feedback. ProdPad already does a great job at helping you to manage all of that internal feedback, and now we’re helping you manage what your users are asking for too!
Today, we’re happy to announce our new User Feedback module!
Collect User Feedback
Our latest module, for User Feedback, allows you to capture snippets of useful feedback from your users. You can add in as many user records as you need, and grab as many snippets of feedback from each as you can get.
Directly Link Customer Feedback to IdeasYou can see how any piece of feedback relates to your ideas. Just type #123 (where 123 is the Idea ID), and it’ll link up directly.
Once you return to the idea page itself, you can then see all of the feedback that relates to that idea, and who said it.
We built this to help ourselves keep all of our fantastic user feedback organised. We hear a lot from our users, and it’s always so helpful! The User Feedback module has been hugely useful in keeping our own customer feedback organised, and we think it will help you and your product team too.
The User Feedback module is currently in Beta, and as usual, we’d love to get your feedback on it. Get in touch at email@example.com, any time!
With the massive changes we’d made to the roadmap with the latest major release, we were ready to put our roadmap to the ultimate test:
A full-on digital meets physical roadmapping session.
Product Roadmapping Goals
Our goal was two-fold:
1) To determine where we wanted to take ProdPad next, now that the roadmap updates were out, following a slew of user feedback and other insights. This involved taking a good, hard look at what was on the current roadmap, and really hashing out some plans and thoughts on where we want to go next.
2) Put the product roadmap building tool to the test, in a live meeting environment. We cracked open the projector, and got the roadmap on the wall and a stack of sticky notes in hand. With this mixture of digital and physical, the session was pretty painless and collaborative. We had everything we needed to jot down ideas on what should go where on the roadmap, and our digital roadmap tool allowing us to simply drag and drop to update in real time.
As far as roadmapping sessions go, this was a breeze!
Along the way, we came up with a series of new wishlist items for the product roadmap template, minor but impactful things, inspired by either our usage or our users’ feedback. That same day, we set to updating a number of things with the roadmap and the site as a whole.
Changes to our Product Roadmap Building Software
Here’s a few of the updates now live:
- The Roadmap Export is now available in both a ‘Regular’ and a ‘Detailed’ view. Detailed view shows the full associated Idea and User Story details for each roadmap card, instead of the more compact count visible in the Regular view.
- When complete, roadmap cards can now be archived. These are then found in a new section for completed cards, showing your ‘Completed Roadmap’ as you go.
- You can now create a new roadmap card directly from the Idea Canvas page, without going back and forth.
- You can add multiple ideas to a card at once, using the Bulk Edit feature.
- Various usability tweaks, and some performance tweaks that should make the whole thing feel faster and easier to use.
Throughout the website, you’ll now find these and a whole pile of other little tweaks. If there’s something else you’d like to see, we’re all ears! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve got ideas coming in from every direction, from everyone on your team.
At some point in time, you’re certainly going to hear a few that sound just like one of the others. These duplicates can be hard to track down and capture in the same place, especially when you’re crunched for time and can only manage to jot the request down somewhere so you can handle it later.
Ideas Matching as you TypeOur product management software can help prevent and manage duplicate requests, as you type them in. As you start typing in a new idea, we automatically recommend similar ideas. From there, you can choose to continue entering your idea, or perhaps use one of the similar ideas to simply add your comments to.
Similar Ideas on the Ideas Canvas
On each idea canvas page, you’ll now find a list of similar ideas to the idea that you’ve entered so far.
This will help you explore similar themes around requests and suggestions to improve your product, as well as help you find old ideas you might want to merge into one.
We’ve released this similarity match for your product today as Beta – it’s based on ‘fuzzy’ matching from elasticsearch (the same thing that powers our search!), and we’re conscious that it will take some tweaking and prodding to make sure it’s providing the best results.
Head to your dashboard today and try adding a new idea, or head straight to one of your existing ideas and see what appears as a similar match. We’d love to get your feedback – get in touch at email@example.com.