Product Roadmaps: lessons from the trenches Ratnesh Sharma Director, Products Covigo, Inc. June 2001
Agenda• Speaker Background• Use and Importance of Roadmaps• How to create effective Roadmaps• Lessons learnt• Q&A
Speaker PM Background• Enterprise software focused • Sun: Solaris 7 • Sun: Sun Clusters 2.2 and 3.0, Solaris Enterprise Server 1.0 • Sun: NetDynamics 5 • iPlanet: NAS 4.0, iAS 6.0 • Covigo: Mobile Applications Server: Multiple Releases
Importance of Roadmaps• Establish leadership and vision• Useful to allocate resources• Motivational tool for inter company stakeholders• Plan for executing corporate strategies and direction• Tool to get everyone on same page
Large Corporations• Customer Retention and increase barriers to switching• Effective competitive signaling and positioning mechanism• Input and Audience: customers• Lower Relative importance (smaller scale/departmental level)• Evolutionary• Product packaging an effective component• Market timing affected by external factors• Longer time frames• Rigid procedure oriented process.
Early Stage Company (in Early Market)• Important aid in establishing company direction, revenues etc.• Effective Differentiation tool• Audience: VC’s, Future Customers, Analysts• Input: Internal focus (initially)• Revolutionary• Shorter time frames (six months)• Market timing is critical• Flexible process- easily adaptable to changing technologies, market and business conditions• Importance of executing on roadmap
The Roadmap Process• Well defined strategy and business plan is key input.• Feedback from Markets, competition, technology trends, analysts, sales, global trends• Detailed competitive analysis.• High level product roadmap and MRD. Established release dates and themes• Buy-in from engineering, marketing, sales• Feedback from Analysts• Sign off
Roadmap Process• Big Company • Bottom up process. Many steps before decision maker approval • Multiple committees and teams • Longer • Adherence to ‘Big Rules’ • Input from existing customers and sales • BMFO (Building a Market Focused Organization) process
Roadmap Process• Startup in Early Market • Initial roadmap based on strategy and business plan • Two month MRD cycle (based on predefined target markets). Visits to customers, subject experts, partners etc. Research results in updated business plan • Detailed competitive analysis. • High level product roadmap. Feedback from analysts. • One approach: known requirements, catching up, leapfrogging the competition (revolutionary) • Consensus reached in one meeting: CTO, Eng, Products, Sales, Marketing • Flexibility. Constantly evolve to support changing company strategy. Initially inward focused.
Lessons Learnt• Exposing roadmap information: risks vs rewards• Importance of keeping engineering and sales in sync on a continuous basis• Leveraging analysts for input• Much tighter relationship with sales: product features, product numbering, release cycles etc.• Hiring: A great team makes all the difference• Products as an effective differentiator
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