Thursday, September 5, 2013

Building Product Roadmaps with Kanban

The following back-of-the-napkin drawing is a great illustration for how to think about aligning an entire organization around building the best product(s). Kanban fits well with this illustration as it can be used continuously to build an evolving product roadmap with the aid of everyone across the company in a repeatable and consistent way.


Here are the major steps:
  1. Source: New product ideas should be sourced from anyone inside the company. Anyone from any department should be able to provide small or large ideas that could eventually make their way into the product.
  2. Filter: Have a single person (usually the product manager) filter out and prioritize what ideas should be worked on. Filtering should be performed methodically based on both quantitative and qualitative measures so that the same selection criteria can be user over and over again.
  3. Recycle: Compost all the ideas that weren't selected and provide specific reasons for why they weren't selected. This openness and transparency helps the originator of the idea(s) understand the how to improve future ones so that they are more likely to be selected.
  4. Display: Display what product ideas will be worked on and in what order. This is where a Kanban board can come in very handy. Everyone in the organization should have access to this board where they can see the progress of previously selected product ideas, who is working on them and potentially add additional requirements as they come up.
The key is to make all of these steps publicly visible within the company and give everyone the ability to comment, argue and build on existing ideas. Kanban is about transparency, it gives everyone in an organization the knowledge about what ideas are being proposed, which ones are being selected and dropped, the reason why that happened and, finally, what should be worked on in the near future. This very simple yet transparent process helps to align an entire organization towards a common goal via a repeatable and consistent process.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harrison Metal posted some great design videos about this similar process: http://www.harrisonmetal.com/design

Andrew Thompson said...

Here is a 3min video on the product roadmap process: https://www.harrisonmetal.com/library/product-roadmap-process