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6 responses to “This Product Roadmap Kerfluffle is Getting a Bit Silly”

  1. Ben Kepes

    Bob – thanks for the post, and thanks for not resorting to ad hominem attacks – if only the entire blogosphere had similar decorum!

    I think there is a little bit of cross purpose talk going on here – there are multiple definitions of “product roadmap”. Some call it a very high level statement to be shared with a select few (as you do it seems), while others regard it as a highly detailed public document.

    Either way it’s a case of horses for courses – while Dennis seems to take the approach that the only way to build business success is by having a detailed public roadmap, it seems to me that there are enough people taking a dissenting view to indicate there are other things of equal or greater importance.

    Anyway – thanks for your thoughts, hopefully they’re the final words in this particular kerfuffle…

  2. Andrew Stebbing

    Just to add to Ben’s comments. Better definition of a roadmap is critical in this discussion.

    Also this post for me seems to touch on the process in the Enterprise space where you have salespeople dealing with big deals and important customers. In that case roadmaps are still troublesome, but essential for doing business, and if you win that customer the challenges will be worth it.

    Also creating a sharing a roadmap internally is totally different that sharing one externally – nothing wrong with an internal one, as you are not setting customer expectations.

  3. Duane Jackson

    If we’re defining a roadmap as ” very high level statement to be shared with a select few “, then I take it all back. We do that, as any of our commercial partners (ie, the select few) will confirm.

    When I talked about a roadmap on my blog, I’m talking in the sense Dennis appears to be: a detailed list of what we intend to do over the coming year or two. In Agile terms, our prioritised PBL. A street-level A to Z as opposed to just the motorways.

  4. Bob Warfield

    Darn, another good argument lost just by defining what we were talking about.

    Honestly Duane, I can’t imagine very many of the customers I’ve talked to even wanting to sit through a full backlog drill down. That’s too much minutiae. They just want to be sure their strategic issues are covered and sometimes they want to see if there is something coming they ought to be thinking about.

    A high level roadmap with drilldown on a couple key features in each area to help them understand gives them that information. It also gives you valuable feedback on your roadmap.



  5. KG

    Unfortunately, my experience (enterprise as well as consumer) suggests that product road-maps have become a way of announcing something, with or without an intent to deliver on time. I would much rather prefer the Apple approach, which is to deliver capability in a usable form and then talk about it. At a very high level it makes sense. For example, Google App Engine for business to add SQL support in 2011. But most product road-maps and announcements these days are nothing but press releases, which rightfully belong in the trash box. You can see all the statements from HP about delivering PaaS. Is that considered a road-map? At this point it is a wish or vapor-ware. I don’t know about others, but I am now used to Apple and Google paradigm, which is to deliver and then talk.

  6. Bob Warfield

    KG, non-delivery is still important data to have that you wouldn’t with no roadmap. A typical Enterprise sales cycle easily allows one quarter of verification and often two or three for really big purchases. If your vendor shows you a roadmap and can’t even deliver what was promised for the very next quarter, that’s something I’d like to know BEFORE buying.