Alignment is the goal of your product roadmap. And to achieve it, product managers must know how to get buy-in for their product roadmap from each stakeholder group.
How do they do this? Beyond showing the actual features and objectives included in their product roadmap, there are a few general rules of thumb:
1. Demonstrate the business case
Product managers must explain, to each department, how their approach will impact the business and how they will change the product’s position within the overall landscape. How does your product roadmap take advantage of opportunities in the market?
2. Address budgeting and resources
Your business case shows the end result. But you also need to explain how you’ll get there. Whether you’re speaking to engineering, marketing or executives, make sure they understand how your budget and resources will be allocated to achieve the goals laid out in your product roadmap.
3. Be transparent
How the heck did you make this product roadmap, anyway? Be transparent about how you established your priorities, so each stakeholder can understand the rationale.
Also, remember that the buy-in process isn’t just about getting to “yes” on your initial game plan. Listen to your stakeholders, synthesize what they tell you, and be flexible about the end result.
Those are some high-level tips for getting product roadmap buy-in. But what are the specific concerns each stakeholder will have? At the core of the successful buy-in process is strong communication. You must speak to each department’s core problems and address their needs in their own language.
Let’s tackle the buy-in process on a team-by-team basis.
PS. Try Roadmunk's free (+ boardroom-ready) product roadmap template and make it your own.
What they care about: Scalability, code, integrity of work, efficiency of work (not taking one step forward and two steps back), building features that add actual value (not just perceived value).
How to communicate your roadmap for successful buy-in: Engineering wants to understand the value for their effort. For developers, integrity is a top priority, and they’ll push back on features that seem difficult to scale or solutions that seem inelegant. You need to be able to explain the intrinsic value of each feature and milestone: to the business, to customers, to the quality of the product. Set realistic time frames (i.e. pad your estimates!), while striking a balance between your sense of urgency and their limited resources.
What to show them: Focus on developer-oriented themes, like scalability, usability, quality, performance, infrastructure and features.
What they care about: WHAT they can promise customers and WHEN it will be ready, building trust and loyalty, performance improvements for the product, ways to reduce churn.
How to communicate your roadmap for successful buy-in: Focus on the timeline. When will different outputs be ready? What can they promise customers and leads right now? Show how the roadmap will introduce ways to reduce churn and improve conversion. And go big: highlight how the needs of large clients will be met, and how your product roadmap creates opportunities for significant deals.
What to show them: The what and the when. Give them a transparent timeline they can communicate to their customers.
What they care about: Conversions, competitors, knowing what to prep for.
How to communicate your roadmap for successful buy-in: When presenting your product roadmap to marketing, be detail-oriented about the end result — e.g. what the feature will do and how it will look—but not the technical process. Marketers need the juiciest, spiciest, most compelling info. Tell them a story they can sell.
What you show them: Again, the “what” and the “when.” Focus on big features and major improvements relevant to a wide audience.
Customers + Customer Support
What they care about: Having a functional, elegant, easy-to-use product. Building (and feeling) trust. Having a product that improves their day and/or makes their work more efficient. Access to relevant product upgrades whenever they are needed.
How to communicate your roadmap for successful buy-in: Your goal is to convince your customers to “hire” your product. Communicate trust, helpfulness and an understanding of their problems. This isn’t the time to talk and talk. Do a lot of listening.
What you show them: What they asked for. How and when their lives will get more productive.