In this guest post, Sam Bowman delves into product roadmaps, and how they can be a crucial asset in your product development journey.
Creative work is integral to the success of your product in one way or another. Whether it’s a team designing the actual product or interface, the marketing put into the product, or even the copy you decide on using to describe your product, in one way or another, creative work will be an essential part of the process. Because of this, it’s important to create transparent, helpful, and well-defined strategies like product roadmaps for how you’ll conduct creative work and measure productivity and success.
What are product roadmaps?
Product roadmaps are essentially a broad overview that visually represents the development stages of a product. In other words, it’s a plan for the overall objectives and strategy for building a product.
In a basic sense, this includes what the product is, why you are making it, and how you are going to make it. More specifically, a product roadmap consists of a vision or goal for the product, what direction you need to proceed in, and what you need to do to build the product and achieve objectives. It can also include a step for metrics and measuring performance to see if the product goals have been met.
The role of creative operations in product development
Various departments or teams are involved in product development, including sales, marketing, engineering and development, and even executives and upper management. And, of course, creative operations are also crucial to the development of a product.
Creative operations, however, often exist across different departments, which is why it’s so important to have a clearly defined creative roadmap.
For example, marketing might handle some creative aspects, but the engineers, designers, and developers will also be involved in the creative work for the product. And if the goals, strategies, objectives, etc., for these different teams are not aligned, it can negatively impact the product’s success.
Thus, there needs to be a consistent and cohesive strategy or roadmap that covers all aspects of the creative work that will go into the development of the product. The term “creative operation” itself refers to a structured framework for creative work. And that structured framework is very much an integral part of product development.
Without a creative operations roadmap, there will likely be inconsistencies with product development. In contrast, with a creative roadmap, various teams working on the creative work will be more aligned, which means effective collaboration, more efficiency, consistency, accountability, and overall more seamless operations.
There is also more transparency across teams when you have a clearly defined creative roadmap that improves collaboration and communication between the different departments and teams working on product development. Essentially, when everyone is on the same page, there will be less friction and fewer errors that could negatively impact the success of the project.
How to create creative roadmaps
So, you understand the importance of creativity in business and the role it plays in the product development process, but how do you go about creating a creative product roadmap? Let’s take a look.
Define the creative project goals
First, you need to clearly lay out and define the project goals. From there, you can determine what the creative goals specifically are or need to be for the product.
Goals can include things like the purpose of developing the product, what specifically you will develop, and what the timeline is or needs to be for the final product release. Once those questions are answered, you can then start to formulate a plan for the creative work that needs to go into the product development.
Determine creative features
Part of the creative roadmap should include determining what the important creative features are for the product and its development. This can include what the product will look like, what the packaging will look like, what the product marketing will look like, and any other important creative features or aspects.
Essentially, this is where you will determine the main creative components for the product and its development, so it’s important to clearly plan this out to make sure everyone is creatively on the same page.
Align strategies with all teams involved
We can’t stress enough the importance of creating a roadmap that ensures everyone’s priorities and efforts are aligned. This means no working in silos.
Silos have become increasingly popular as a way to work that keeps teams focused on their individual tasks. But silos aren’t good when developing a new product, especially where the creative operations are concerned because you have different teams contributing to the creative work. If you work in silos, the creative work won’t be aligned.
So, make sure the roadmap keeps all teams aligned, collaborating, sharing information, and working together toward the same end goal. There might be some separate tasks or goals that are more specific to individual teams, but overall, the creative operations should be aligned.
Make sure your roadmap is clear and concise
When creating your roadmap, keep it as clear, concise, and straightforward as possible. Think of Hick’s Law in this regard, which states that the time it takes to do something increases with the number of options.
If your roadmap is overly detailed and complex, it can make it harder to understand and will take teams longer to get through. It’s about finding the balance of simplicity without oversimplifying.
You want enough info that it is clear what needs to be done, but not so much info that teams are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do first. Keep it concise.
Overlay metrics to measure performance
Finally, every creative product roadmap should include metrics to measure performance and ensure everything is on the right track and achieving the right goals. This is a fundamental element of product development roadmaps, as it provides insight into how well you are meeting objectives.
Without metrics, you could get to the end stage of product development only to find that things aren’t working the way you planned. So you need to measure along the way and make adjustments as you go, rather than waiting until the end.
Every product development project needs a product roadmap to make sure the final product delivers on the intended goals and objectives. There is so much that goes into product development that it’s easy for teams to lose track of what everyone else is doing, especially where the creative work is concerned. But with a creative roadmap, everyone gets the same overview of the product objectives, which keeps everyone working in alignment and ensures a more successful outcome.