As a product manager, one of the most critical steps you need to take is to create a roadmap outlining the direction of your product. One of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to make your roadmap public or keep it private. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, this blog post will help you weigh the pros and cons of each option so you can determine which is right for your team.
In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the public and private roadmap options. We’ll explore what they are, their advantages and disadvantages, and frequently asked questions. This guide will help you make an informed decision about which option is right for your team.
What is a Public Roadmap?
A public roadmap is a roadmap that is visible to anyone, including customers and competitors. The purpose of a public roadmap is to communicate to stakeholders what your team is working on, what’s coming next, and what’s been achieved. A public roadmap is typically shared on a company’s website or a dedicated roadmap tool.
Advantages of Public Roadmaps:
- Transparency: A public roadmap provides transparency to customers and stakeholders, building trust and managing expectations.
- Community Feedback: Public roadmaps can encourage community feedback, helping to identify opportunities, understand customer needs, and improve the product.
- Competitive Advantage: Sharing your plans can help position your product against competitors, highlighting what sets you apart.
- Increased Motivation: Public roadmaps can motivate your team to meet deadlines and deliver on promises.
- Customer Retention: A public roadmap can help retain customers by demonstrating a clear plan for the future of the product.
Disadvantages of Public Roadmaps:
- Risk of Overpromising: Public roadmaps can create expectations that cannot be met, leading to disappointment and mistrust.
- Increased Pressure: When you make your plans public, there is increased pressure to deliver on time and as promised.
- Risk of Copying: Competitors can use your public roadmap to gain insights into your plans and potentially copy them.
- Misinterpretation: Customers may misinterpret the roadmap, leading to confusion and dissatisfaction.
- Difficulty with Flexibility: Public roadmaps can make it difficult to adjust plans without communicating those changes to the public, leading to a lack of flexibility.
What is a Private Roadmap?
A private roadmap is a roadmap that is only visible to internal stakeholders such as your development team, executives, and investors. The purpose of a private roadmap is to keep your team focused and aligned on your goals without disclosing too much information to the public. Private roadmaps can be shared via internal tools or documents.
Advantages of Private Roadmaps:
- Flexibility: A private roadmap allows you to make changes and adjust your plans without worrying about customer or competitor backlash.
- Reduced Pressure: Without the public eye, your team can focus on delivering quality work without worrying about external pressures.
- Confidentiality: Keeping your plans private reduces the risk of competitors copying your plans.
- Better Internal Communication: Private roadmaps can promote better internal communication and alignment among your team.
- More Control: A private roadmap provides more control over the timing and release of information.
Disadvantages of Private Roadmaps:
- Lack of Transparency: Without a public roadmap, customers may not know what to expect, leading to confusion and dissatisfaction.
- Missed Opportunities: A private roadmap can make it difficult to get customer feedback, potentially causing you to miss out on valuable insights.
- Lack of Accountability: Without the public eye, there is less accountability for your team to deliver on time and as promised.
- Difficulty with Collaboration: Private roadmaps can make it difficult to collaborate with external stakeholders, such as partners or investors.
- Less Motivation: A private roadmap can result in a lack of motivation for your team to meet deadlines and deliver on promises.
In conclusion, the decision to have a public or private roadmap depends on your product and team needs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and choose what works best for your team. Whether you decide to have a public or private roadmap, remember to communicate clearly with your stakeholders and customers
Yes, you can have both a public and private roadmap. For example, you could have a high-level public roadmap that outlines your major initiatives while keeping the detailed plans private.
It’s best to update your public roadmap on a regular cadence, such as quarterly or bi-annually. This allows you to communicate progress and changes to your customers while managing their expectations.
You can protect your plans by being strategic about what you share on your public roadmap. For example, you could share high-level initiatives without disclosing specific features or timelines.