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The Good and Bad of Adding Dates to a Product Roadmap

A product roadmap provides a high-level view of how a product will benefit the organization and clients within a timeframe. It helps to align the product backlog with the product strategy of your company. In his blog article, Roman Pichler shares the good and bad of adding dates to a product roadmap.

Time-boxing Product Roadmaps

Irrespective of your take on adding dates to the product roadmap, the decision’s success depends on the usability. If you are discussing the product roadmap with your clients, have a time range with a suitable buffer like six months or a year. You can be stricter with your in-house goals with stakeholders and teams. For both the cases, ensure that all are agreeing to the product roadmap decisions. People will able to express their challenges and opinions before fixing deadlines and milestones.

Be open to quarterly reviews and modification of the roadmap. Upgrade developments, feedback, and changes added in the later stages.

Why Dates Are Necessary: Adding dates to the roadmap serves two purposes—you can fix the deadlines and make the goals more reasonable. For example, the sale volume of games and smartphones peak during festivities like Christmas. No product release deadline before Christmas can mean missed sales opportunities. You should set dates even for ‘non-seasonable products’. For instance, you must create a prototype of a healthcare device before the RSNA’s annual conference.

Pichler has mentioned an Iron Triangle with the budget, product goal, and date or timeframe at each triangle vertex. The quality sits in the middle, indicating the only factor that cannot be compromised with. According to Sod’s Law, you should keep one of the vertices flexible. For instance, you can expand the timeframe but work on the same product goals.

Why Dates Are Not Always Advantageous: When you agree to deliver a product or part of the product within a date, customers consider it as final. If you encounter a delay that is beyond your control, the users and clients tag it as a breach of the agreement. As the dates near, dated product roadmap can result in stressed work culture and rushed deliverables. Since team members are stretching their work hours, productivity goes down. So does the quality of the deliverables. The end product is a complicated pile of half-baked, misunderstood requirements with numerous issues that need rework.

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