Roadmaps are already well-known tools for those who are constantly working on product development. It’s a tool that indicates three states: Planned, In Progress, and Released. It makes it clear what is being worked on within the product.
The tool itself has the purpose to facilitate communication within the company, about what is a priority and what isn’t. But in many companies this tool has served another objective, it has served as a transparency tool for their consumers.
All this is due to the fact that companies are migrating to public roadmaps and inviting their consumers to be part of the construction.
Making your roadmap an accessible tool to your users brings five main benefits that you should keep an eye on.
Although your customer may well understand what your product is, he will hardly know what is done in the company’s internal processes. Even worse if his voice is heard, every time he sends feedback where does it go? Is it on a support ticket system? Going to the product team? Does the commercial team know about this?
You may even be constantly acting on the feedback received, but for your consumer, it’s not clear that their voice was heard. Having a public roadmap makes it simple for your customer to express their voice and for you there is a great chance of lowering your churn. Since around 94% of consumers become loyal to a brand when it offers more openness about its efforts and focuses.
When you create a public roadmap and constantly update it, you are being completely transparent with your customers. They get to know both what’s coming in the future as well as what’s not a focus at the moment.
There’s a hardly a better way to be transparent than by showing the world what you’re working on.
But why should I care about being more transparent?
Several studies show that being transparent has a profound impact on company performance. Among the main impacts raised are that 94% of consumers are more loyal to brands that are more transparent and 73% are more likely to pay more for more transparent services.
“Companies that embrace transparency as a core business value find that it leads to consumer trust, loyalty, and business success.”
It’s no wonder that even gigantic companies like Microsoft have invested in facilitating the transparency of their products and currently have their public roadmap.
One of the biggest problems in any interaction with your user, whether during an interview, in support of an issue or during a sale is the expectation created about the tool. Especially when this customer passes a group of suggestions for improvements.
The customer who has just exposed all the problems, in his opinion, about the system hopes that at some point this will be fixed or improved. After a few weeks nothing seems to have changed and the expectation is gradually broken.
Your customer will start to think either this team didn’t listen to me or they are so slow that it will take a long time for this improvement to be made. As there was no transparency in what the team is working on, what is a priority and nothing has been announced about the latest changes, your client has the very wrong expectations about reality.
When users can see your roadmap, they can see what your current priorities are. They’ll be able to see product strategy and get a judgment of what are your goals.
Furthermore, it can help prevent churn, as your customers will be able to know exactly what you are working on and whether that essential feature will be released or not. It can also serve as a sales tool, both for the transparency you offer. But also for showing what the future will be and the improvements that your customers will gain in the coming months.
On the other hand, if the suggestion is not something that is your priority, you can clearly state that you are not working on it. Taking no and having the right expectation is better than wondering whether it will be built or not.
Hiring any software for a company, especially a large one, is complex. Since the company will become dependent on that solution. If it neglects the market or fails to evolve, it will possibly have to change the tool again.
When you make it clear what’s you’re working on it removes doubt about your product’s future.
The roadmap itself is meant to be a communication tool. When it becomes public it’s even easier for all stakeholders to follow the status of each improvement being developed.
The fear of making your information, especially your roadmap, public will always be present. However the benefits you will receive will be greater than the problems.
Yes, your competitors will have visibility of what your roadmap would be. However, if your competitors are having to stop and copy your roadmap they will be making two mistakes:
- They’re wasting time building something they don’t really know.
- They will be creating solutions focused on their customers, but not necessarily theirs.
At the end of the day, if they try to use it to copy your product it will be worse for them than if they had focused on their own customers.
“If your competitors start copying you then you are doing something right!”
The concept of public roadmaps is not new, there are already many companies of all different sizes with their roadmaps accessible to all their users.
For example, at Product Gears we use our product to have our public roadmap.
But if you want to know another five companies in different industries, there is this list below:
Github has a public roadmap using its software project management tool. The company has always been transparent with its audience and to go even further, they decided to offer the roadmap open to everyone.
“What we’re trying to do is provide a way for people to see what’s coming, join in that dialogue and give us feedback and be able to collaborate with us.”
GitHub’s SVP of Product Shanku Niyogi
Buffer not only has a public roadmap, but he explained in detail how he got to this school and how it has been beneficial to the company.
A public roadmap need not be restricted to the B2B SaaS market and Gumroad proves that.
The company decided to use the notion to make its roadmap public and open it up for the community to contribute.
Slack’s Roadmap is a special case since it’s intended for developers and not for end-users.
Even a company the size of Microsoft has its roadmaps open to its users. In this case, the company prefers to break the roadmap by product line, as it would become very complex to have one for its most diverse software.
A good example of Microsoft’s SaaS would be the Office 365 roadmap.