Product development isn’t always easy. You should expect bumps in the road and slight detours along the way. That’s why having a digital product roadmap is so essential before starting your first Agile sprint. Despite the obstacles you may face, a roadmap helps keep you focused on the destination that will bring value to users and your company.  

A digital product roadmap outlines your strategy from the start of your first sprint to deployment and beyond. It sketches your product’s features and the order in which scrum teams need to work on them. Most importantly, this guide communicates the “why” behind your product. Why should users care about these new features and the product as a whole? Why should stakeholders within your company fully support it? These are some of the questions that a good digital product roadmap will address.  

Your roadmap may change slightly over time. After all, user demands are fluid and subject to changes in the world around them. For example, Programmers recently looked at the varying digital needs of the auction industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital product roadmaps are living artifacts that are adaptable as the needs of your company, stakeholders, and users evolve. You can add new product features, re-prioritize certain specifications, and make other adjustments on the fly.   

Below, you’ll learn the many benefits of digital product roadmaps. Plus, discover how to get started.  

Defining (and Achieving) Value Early

The Harvard Business School estimates that over 30,000 new physical and digital products enter the market each year. Of those, HBS found that 95% fail to be valuable. There are many reasons why a company falls short with a new product, including failing to establish the value proposition or losing sight of the product’s target audience. A digital product roadmap can help you avoid these pitfalls and define value to users and your company early.  

Here are just a few of the ways in which a roadmap helps strengthen your product’s performance at market:  

  • Communicates your product’s vision 
  • Unifies stakeholders and helps secure internal buy-in  
  • Guides product implementation 
  • Outlines details of your product strategy 

Anticipating Digital Product Roadblocks

Few companies deploy new digital products without a hitch. After conducting a survey on product launches, Gartner senior research director Adrian Lee concluded, “A product launch that meets all internal targets is seldom achieved.”  

Product managers polled as part of the Gartner survey pointed to many reasons why their initiatives fell short of expectations. Those included bugs, feature creep, and lower-than-expected quality. A considerate digital product roadmap can help you anticipate many of these problems and allocate an appropriate amount of time and resources to address them.  

Here’s how to spot and work around these barriers with a digital product roadmap: 

  • Clearly define the features necessary to meet users’ needs, avoiding feature creep 
  • Allocate extra time to complex features that may result in a disproportionate number of bugs 
  • Establish a clear understanding of what success looks like at the end of each sprint 
  • Identify all the technologies you will need to leverage and their potential setbacks 

While you’re drafting the digital product roadmap, it is also an excellent time to consider whether you have the experts necessary to complete this initiative. Given ongoing staffing shortages, you may find that you do not have the talent needed for certain processes. Companies like Programmers can augment your staff with the experts you need or even full dedicated teams.  

Final Thoughts

Digital product roadmaps guide your strategy throughout development. They answer many of the “why” questions, ensuring you already have a clear idea of the value this product brings to users and your company before the first sprint begins. Because of this, digital product roadmaps help you avoid many of the missteps companies make during development and deployment.  

As you begin working on your roadmap, make sure it includes KPIs and other ways to measure success. It also helps to have some wiggle room built in for milestones and other key dates, understanding that you can’t plan for every roadblock. Finally, revisit your roadmap early and often during development. Sprint review meetings are a great opportunity to reestablish expectations every couple of weeks.  

If you need help along the way, Programmers can guide you through the roadmap-building process. Better yet, we have decades of experience developing digital products from the first brainstorming session all the way to deployment. Contact us today to begin building digital products with the help of a team focused on rapidly showing value.