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The importance of a data-driven product roadmap

Add built-in scheduling. Add widgets. Make the home screen customizable. Add more views. More analytics. Offline capabilities. Make it purple. Make it integrate with Zapier. Make it take screenshots, store PDFs, and send notes to your grandma on her birthday. 

To be sure, Product Managers spend a lot of time deciding which features need to be added to their product. And there’s no end to the work they can do improving products. But with multiple products and new urgent bugs and features to manage daily, it can be hard to focus on an organization’s bigger vision.

And organizations have visions and goals for products as well. So a product roadmap serves as a tool for alignment: it’s a strategy-first, visual document that communicates what type of problem a product solves, how, and for whom. And it addresses what’s coming next to best meet customers’ needs.

Yet because product roadmaps are living, breathing documents that can and should evolve, it can be frustrating to construct them. Why base them on data that will quickly become outdated? After all, what good is it to have a map if you lack a definitive destination? 

While most teams agree data-based product roadmapping is necessary, they see challenges such as these:

  • Short-term tactical goals often compete with long-term strategy goals
  • Unless they focus on the right ‌data, product road maps will simply reflect existing team estimates and assumptions
  • Not all data supports the product vision

PMs can solve these challenges with a data-based product roadmap. And we think they’ll see other benefits, too. Let’s break them down.

Risks of hot Having a data-driven roadmap

First, it’s crucial to recognize that departments can’t effectively prioritize projects without a data-backed road map. They will struggle to

  • Decide which features are needed most
  • Prepare to market and sell those features
  • Reduce work that does not add to the bottom line
  • Grow effectively

To reduce these risks, look at business metrics, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer lifetime value (CLV), and annual recurring revenue (ARR). They’ll get you started by grounding decisions in their business outcomes. For example, if lifetime value is falling, you can start your assessment with the goal of completing projects that raise it, lengthening the time customers use a product, and enabling add-on solutions that solve adjacent problems for customers.

Add behavioral analytics to your business data for a more nuanced look at where customers are engaging. Which product features are most tied to your business metrics? Those deserve higher priority. They shed light on the extent to which your efforts drove revenue, enabling you to make better decisions.

A roadmap to revenue growth

Together, business metrics and behavioral data are the heart of an effective data-based product roadmap. Here are some core ways they’ll help you drive revenue growth. 

Shorter time-to-value

Behavioral data from users is an opportunity to see friction points that slow users’ ability to realize value. They’ll show you where to institute in-product pop-ups to onboard new users and which products are right for cross-selling. The data can also inform marketing, since you’ll be able to quantify how much faster customers are realizing value.

Alignment with vision

Tie a product roadmap to your vision using data, and you’ll waste less time on projects that don’t move your metrics in the right direction. What problem do you solve for customers? That’s your product’s “North Star”: the long-term goal you should always be moving toward.

And how are customers using your product right now? Knowledge about what needs to be fixed, what customers adore, and which features go unused make up your shorter-term product to-do list. With both business and behavioral data consistently in mind, you’ll be able to make stepwise improvements that align with your vision, so there’ll be no rerouting later.

Improved customer targeting

Data can help you identify which features and use cases are important to which segments. This will enable you to align marketing materials for similar customers. Think about behavioral data such as

  • How long have the customers been using the product?
  • How often do they use it?
  • Which features do they use most?
  • Which features don’t they use?

You’ll improve targeting based on specific information from each demographic or industry. 

Alignment across teams

Teams that see one another’s challenges can also communicate faster to solve them. Everyone should have a clear view into what features will add the most value for your customers, which will have the biggest impact on the North Star business goals, and which push your product closer to the vision you have for the future. With one view, everyone can prioritize the work accordingly, and your team can make a strategic push towards the right innovations for your customer base.

Better budgeting

With prioritized projects aligned to product vision, you’ll be able to assess the workforce and resources needed to execute. That helps your organization plan for hiring and makes sign-off easier for stakeholders. 

And the overall effect? Organizations grow revenue using well-planned hiring and resource allocation. Projects get done on time. Good planning results in fewer headaches, fewer bugs, less customer churn, and happier employees.

Build your own roadmap to revenue growth

A product roadmap offers a straightforward way to persuade stakeholders that your future journey is aligned with the product vision and poised for growth. You’ll know it is because multiple types of data, from business metrics to customer use data, work together to pinpoint logical priorities.

That makes for a smoother journey and less chance you’ll be heading in the wrong direction. Using multiple types of data supports the product vision and anchors your product roadmap in both long-term goals and immediate needs. 

Want to learn more about setting up a product roadmap using the best product analytics? Download our eBook here.