Published on December 21, 2015 by Antti Hietala
What is the best way to collect requirements for a product roadmap? What sources should you listen to? Which items should you work on?
In this post I explain how we created the current Magnolia roadmap. The information sources we used may also work for you. I have also included a mind mapping exercise that can be used to elicit requirements. It works really well in small teams.
Sources for requirements
Product planning should take everybody’s input into account. Cast a wide net. Talk to as many users as you can. Only then start narrowing down what you will actually implement.
In the latest round of Magnolia feature planning we collected requirements from three sources:
Once we had requirements from these three sources in a spreadsheet we started looking for a common theme. Many items had something to do with author experience, making authors’ lives easier. So we chose it as a theme for the current roadmap.
Exercise: Mind mapping roadmap input
Mind mapping is a great technique for collecting requirements from teams of under 10 people. The mind mapping session is personal and immediate. The participants feel that their concerns are heard and they feel invested in the roadmap.
Here’s a mind map I drew with the Magnolia marketing team. The team uses the product every day to write and manage content. Their requirements are clearly centered around usability and author experience (AX). These topics have the most red stickers.
Each mind map is dominated by what the group does for living. You get a more accurate picture once you combine input from all groups.
For example, component-level personalization was only mentioned once in the Marketing team session. The item has no vote stickers. But this missing feature was raised again by other groups. Several respondents in the client survey also requested it. So overall component personalization is important and is now on the Magnolia roadmap.
Next, reduce the list to a reasonable size. We vetted the items against three criteria:
A roadmap is never final
The current Magnolia roadmap shows what we will work on next.
We have buy-in from employees and partners. Now we need to convince the user community that these are the right items to work on. This blog post is a small part of that effort.
I don’t think a roadmap is ever final. It is a living, evolving document. Adapt. Communicate. Repeat.
Antti Hietala is a product manager at Magnolia. He is tasked with articulating Magnolia's value proposition to sales and professional services. In constant contact with users, he feeds the product roadmap with front-line input. Antti's key responsibilities include internal communication, product roadmap and feature specifications. Follow him on Twitter @antarctic74.
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