In my recent post we discussed the creation of a prioritized list of requirements. This is essential to the next step in the process: creating a product roadmap. A product roadmap is an operational plan that keeps track of your products’ quarterly development activity supporting each deliverable. Product roadmaps detail a set of development activities that span a defined period of time either on a calendar year or rolling basis.
Deliverables are referred to as “releases” and each is inserted into the quarter calendar of the plan. The entry includes a high-level description of the release.
There are essentially three types of releases:
- New value creation
- Maintenance or support of an existing product
- Investment in an internal capability
What is a New Value Creation Release?
The new value creation release is essentially a new product, capability, or feature that adds to the value the customer gets from your product. These releases are the main focal point of your development activity. They are also where you will grow your company’s revenue stream.
Maintenance and Support Releases
The second type of release is concerned with preserving the product revenue stream for existing products. Too many people believe that once the heavy lifting has been done to launch a product, the maintenance required will be minimal. Things will just roll along and the revenue will just roll in. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Product managers need to continually monitor and tweak the product so it retains the value the customer expects.
Internal Product Releases
This type of release is out of the public eye, but it is no less important than the other two types. These releases support the day-to-day operations of your product or service. They are essential if you are going to have products that meet customer expectations on an ongoing basis. The internal product releases are the ones that are most often ignored during roadmap planning because they are hidden from the public eye.
No matter the size of your company, you’ll soon realize that development resources are limited. It can be challenging to work out the balance between release types so that you maximize the value to your customers. One of a product manager’s main jobs is to balance the three types of releases to maintain or fuel market growth.