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Advantages of Having a Public Product Roadmap

By Alara Eren on Mon, 19 Oct 2020

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If you are a startup founder or a product manager thinking of what to do next with your product, which features to implement first and how to better understand your target audiences needs, you are reading the correct article.

Today I am going to write about why we made Juphy's product roadmap public and how it helped us to better understand our customers needs in the most efficient way.

What's a Public Product Roadmap and How Can You Use It?

A public product roadmap is an easily accessible online page where your potential users, customers, team, investors and other stakeholders can view your roadmap, give feedback and decide on the future of your product.

Nine months ago we started using Canny for Juphy's public roadmap and we highly recommend it. Our users can request new features, upvote other feature requests, report bugs, follow Juphy's product roadmap and progress on Canny. This helps us to prioritize feature requests, track user feedback in a very organized manner, keep customers up to date on new improvements and make better product decisions by understanding the needs of our customers. Today we are very proud to publicly share our roadmap as well as why we recommend it to other startups.

Advantages of Having a Public Product Roadmap

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1. Better Understanding of Customers Needs

The first and the most important reason of why we have a public roadmap is to better understand our customers needs and develop a product that they can not live without. Having a public roadmap is a perfect way to get feedback from your users about what's most important to them in your product/service and it allows you to be more certain in your decision making. When your roadmap is public and open to feedback, product managers and founders have to spend less time doing market research to figure out what your potential users want. Rather, they can collect feedback through a platform like Canny and eventually have more time to focus on actually building the product. This will also help them to leave aside biases and gut feelings when making product decisions.

2. Transparency Builds Trust

A significant reason to make your product roadmap public is to increase transparency between your company and customers. When users can contribute on your roadmap, they are showing a level of dedication to your product. It creates a community where customers are actively contributing to the future of your product by creating new feature requests and upvoting already existing requests. After all, they are able to track your teams progress and will know that their feedback is heard and respected by your organization. That alone builds trust and dedication to your company.

3. Manages Expectations

When users can view your product roadmap, they can see what your current priorities are and get a sense of your goals. Canny's feature voting enables you to set expectations for which features are coming as much as which isn't. Your public roadmap will also manage expectations in several other ways:

  • If a current customer sees active work on a feature they really want, it will reduce your churn rate as the customer will most probably wait for that feature to be live.
  • Similarly, a public roadmap can serve as a sales tool for potential customers as your sales team will be able to show that you are currently working on features that they need.
  • Or on the opposite side, if a feature request has a very limited number of votes, users can better understand why you haven't implemented their feedback. This prevents your users from being disappointed if their feature request is not put into action.
  • Finally, if you update your roadmap regularly, customers can easily see your progress on a certain feature and won't reach out to you to ask about progress. This will save you time and money in terms of customer support.
  • Most importantly, users will appreciate and value the fact that you’re continually working to improve based on their needs.

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4. Improves Internal Communication

Lastly, having a public roadmap gives all your employees a clear direction of your product which prevents uncertainty and improves motivation. It especially allows non-customer facing employees such as engineers to build a connection and better understand customers. They are able to gain direct insight into what customers are looking for, and prioritize their work based on the upvotes on your public roadmap.

On the recruitment side, candidates can view the product roadmap in advance and come in with very specific knowledge about the product, the company direction and what type of capabilities are required for this job. This allows you to ask more targeted questions about their skills and gives them a real idea about what kinds of projects they will be contributing to. Overall, the hiring process will be far more efficient.

On the support side, your team can instantly share your roadmap with customers, prospects and other stakeholders without asking for what's happening, which features are going to be added, etc. which will enable a more informative and rapid sales process.

Competitors Can See Your Roadmap

While considering to make your product roadmap public, the first disadvantage that comes to mind is the fact that competitors will get a clear idea of your products direction. However, we believe that the advantages of having a public roadmap outweigh the disadvantages, and focusing on competition is a distraction. It is always a better idea to stay focused on your customers needs and execute your roadmap to the best of your ability. In the meantime, as Bri from Canny says :

"If competitors are looking to your roadmap for inspiration, that means they’re leaning on your customer base to tell them what to build—not their own. At the end of the day, this will hurt them, not you."

We totally agree with her and we couldn't be more happier to use Canny.

Overall, we believe that having a public product roadmap is a great way to better understand our customers needs while creating a highly valuable community and making more confident product decisions for Juphy. We definitely recommend other startups to consider this option and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Canny's co-founders Sarah and Andrew for creating such a great product.

If you are looking forward to find out more on how to create a public roadmap, you can always check this link out:

https://canny.io/

Tags: public product roadmap, feedback optimization, feature prioritization, Juphy