Now that you have a vision statement, a product owner’s next step is to build a product roadmap, a list of features broken into phases that your team will build over the next year. Features are high-level ideas and functionality for your product. While not an official Scrum artifact, the roadmap will help you generate an official artifact known as the product backlog.

To start your roadmap, you need a list of features. A great practice to generate features is to get your stakeholders to write out features for the product onto post-it notes. Each idea gets its own post-it. Give the stakeholders a couple of minutes to write their ideas independently.

Once your stakeholders have their list of features, come together as a group and let them list their ideas one-by-one. Any features that are duplicated by other stakeholders should have their post-its chained together. Longer chains are universal ideas that are important to your stakeholders. Features that are similar should be placed near each other to help highlight common threads. A post-it note to create a user profile and a note to edit a user profile could be placed in the same bucket.

Next, the group should look to prioritize features into phases. A good practice is to focus on four phases with 6-8 features per phase. Your features will be broken down further, so don’t overload your phases with too much work.

Your most important features should be placed in phase 1. These are the features that are critical to your product’s vision. After your first phase is developed with the features you listed, you should have a minimal viable product (MVP) that you can release to customers. Features listed in phase 2, 3, and 4 should be enhancements to the product that will provide extra benefits to existing users or bring in new customers.

To lay out your product roadmap, use a board with four columns, one for each phase of development. Take your post-it notes and place them on a board into the appropriate phase. Try to put the most important features for each phase at the top of the column. The least important feature for each phase should be at the bottom. It’s a good idea to make a goal for each phase and put that at the top. Features that don’t meet the vision can be thrown away or placed into a holding pen for future consideration.

Make this board visible for everyone to see. This will provide clear guidance for your team on what ideas will be the focus for each phase. It will remind stakeholders of your product’s plans for the upcoming year. By placing the post-its from most to least important, you also start to set a priority for the features within a phase.

A product owner should review the product roadmap with stakeholders a few times a year. Priorities and the business environment may shift; moving features can help you ensure you maintain a competitive edge.

The image at the top is a product roadmap for my main product, a reporting portal for my company’s business partners. The MVP features and a round of enhancements have already been implemented. Goals for the next four phases are written on the orange post-it notes at the top of the board. Phase 3’s goal is Affinity Group and Compensation Report Setup. The phase’s top priorities are to update our partner creation area, add and manage affinity groups, and setup compensation reports. At the bottom include deleting previously uploaded compensation reports and updating some wording around the site.

This board is on my desk for everyone on my team and in my company to view. It is a constant reminder of what items we need to build into our portal over the next twelve months. For easy reference, I printed and attached the vision statement to the board with a magnet. As it is our product’s guiding principle, I like to have the statement readily available.

2 thoughts on “Product Roadmap – Prioritizing Piles of Post It Notes

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