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How to Do Outcome-Focused Roadmapping (Step-by-Step Guide)

outcome-focused roadmapping

With requests and feedback coming from multiple stakeholders and data sets, and without a clear guide for how to do outcome-focused roadmapping, product teams can easily find themselves stuck in the “build trap”- building features without having visibility into their impact on the company goals.

Traditional feature-based roadmaps are built around a backlog of ways to improve products based on customer feedback and market insights, which is not a bad thing. The problem with this roadmapping model, however, is that the prioritization method is linear. When so many factors and dimensions play into decision-making, such as business, customer, and market needs and timelines, an approach with more depth and perspective is required.

Today, product teams are switching from feature-based roadmaps to outcome-focused roadmaps to deliver products customers love while also driving business outcomes

In a previous post, we covered the factors that lead teams to make the switch from feature-based roadmapping to OKR/outcome-focused roadmapping. In this post, I’ll cover the key elements and provide a step-by-step guide of how to do outcome-focused roadmapping with Dragonboat’s Responsive Product Portfolio Management tool.

The Dimensions Of Outcome-Based Roadmapping

Feature-based roadmapping typically focuses on one type of outcome—for example, more products to market (business outcome), higher feature adoption (customer outcome), or higher revenues (portfolio outcome). A product manager has a backlog of product requests and must choose which features to prioritize based on a selected outcome.

With an outcome-focused approach (and the right product portfolio tool), product teams can build outcome-based roadmaps to achieve multiple outcomes, manage multiple teams, and provide a framework for the outcome-driven product workflow.

Check out this episode of the Product Experience where I discussed escaping feature factories, the three signs of a truly outcome-focused product org, and more:

Outcome-focused product teams start by first defining their desired goals and outcomes and then deciding which actions are needed to achieve them. Using a purpose-built tool like Dragonboat allows you to consider all the dimensions of your business, customer, and portfolio, as well as time horizons to ensure success in both the near and long term.

Leveraging a tool like Dragonboat eliminates the need for planning across multiple spreadsheets, product backlogs, and feature requests and syncs all your deliverables, product teams, and timelines to visualize a clear path forward across your entire organization. Dragonboat also captures all your outcomes, achieved or not, to inform your next planning phase.

“You need to understand how you contribute to the strategy and that’s what Dragonboat helps you do. It gives you the understanding of how all the things you’re working on ladder up into the bigger company goals and how that looks across the portfolio. Even if you’re not making those strategic decisions about what to start and stop, you need to understand how you fit into the picture.”

Melissa Perri, CEO of ProduxLabs at ProductCon

Now that we’ve looked at the “why,” let’s take a look at the ‘how.” 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to ditching the feature factory and adopting Dragonboat’s outcome-driven approach:

How To Do Outcome-Focused Roadmapping In Dragonboat

Step 1: Set Goals And Key Strategies

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are set at the executive level and during strategic planning sessions, teams brainstorm various strategies to turn those business goals (objectives) into strategic goals (key results) to measure how they are achieving this objective.

These strategies turn into product initiatives that often include one or more product features that collectively carry out the strategy. This is why outcome-focused teams need to create OKRs before product initiatives. 

In Dragonboat, you can connect OKRs to product initiatives to align and allocate towards goals to give you the context and alignment needed to prioritize and build, and measure results with confidence.

how to do outcome focused roadmapping
*Create your goal hierarchy to tie work to outcomes.

Step 2: Define Metrics To Measure Goals

Once you’ve set goals and key strategies, you’ll need to define what metrics to use to measure effectiveness and impact. 

In Dragonboat, you can set both company and team-level goals as well as set key metrics and strategic themes so you can have visibility into how your initiatives are impacting the goal.

how to do outcome focused roadmapping in Dragonboat
*Set key metrics to measure goals

Step 3:  Prioritize The Most Impactful Features And Initiatives

Once your ideas, requests, and initiatives have been centralized, you can group categories, align them to the respective goals they will impact, and prioritize them against each other as it relates to their potential contribution towards that goal. 

For more on Dragonboat’s approach to prioritization, read “Rock, Pebble, and Sand Product and Portfolio Management.”

Prioritizing with purpose is an essential element of building an outcome-focused roadmap. To avoid getting caught in the build-trap, focus on the most important items to solve first. Prioritize backlog items based on those answers as well as available resources in the upcoming timeframe. 

Leveraging the Metrics over Available Resources (MoAR) prioritization framework allows you to incorporate a direct measure against goals into your roadmap planning/ dynamic alignment process. This enables better product decisions, easily visualized product portfolio metrics, and improved overall outcomes. RICE is another commonly used prioritization framework (illustrated below).

outcome focused roadmapping
*Dragonboat’s portfolio list view shows your goals and ideas displayed together and in priority order.

Step 4: Plan Roadmap-Account For Dependencies And Allocation

To achieve the best portfolio outcomes, you need to allocate resources towards short-term and long-term goals to ensure your company is not only achieving current goals but also growing and innovating towards long-term success.

Each goal you define should have planned allocation to build the most effective outcome-driven roadmap. For example, you can choose to allocate 50% of resources to new revenue and 50% towards innovation. In Dragonboat, you can easily see your planned vs actual resources to understand if your roadmap can be executed effectively and make adjustments where needed.

outcome focused roadmapping in Dragonboat
*View your resource allocation easily in Dragonboat.

Just as important as the proper resource allocation for successful roadmap delivery is to manage dependencies. If left unchecked, roadmap dependencies can hinder your progress and delay outcomes. Dragonboat helps you effectively plan, visualize, and auto-track dependencies to ensure successful product delivery. 

*Manage portfolio dependencies in Dragonboat

Step 5: Monitor Delivery Progress

Once you’ve planned goals, strategic themes, prioritization, and resourcing within Dragonboat, push to execution tools (like Jira) for delivery, and roll back up to Dragonboat for visibility and insights. 

Within Dragonboat you’ll be able to see the progress of your roadmap in real-time and be automatically alerted to any delays or delivery risks.

“What I love about Dragonboat is that it’s much more than just a product portfolio management software. It enables a framework for how to run a successful product company. It’s insightful and intuitive. Every outcome-focused product organization should use it.”

-Eston Taylor, Bushel
outcome focused roadmapping
*In Dragonboat, you can easily see delivery progress and roll-up reporting from Jira.

Step 6. Monitor Outcome Progress And Adjust Roadmap Based On Results

Not only is it important to track the progress of product roadmap items (initiatives), you should also track the progress of your OKRs (outcomes) to understand what worked and what didn’t work, and inform future product planning to achieve goals. You can monitor the outcome progress and return to step 4 to adjust the roadmap iteratively.

Having a Responsive PPM tool like Dragonboat allows you to easily view and update status and health, so that you can measure results and responsively re-allocate based on performance.

outcome focused roadmapping
*In Dragonboat, the snapshot summary shows actual progress against objectives and initiatives. 

Create Winning Roadmaps With Dragonboat’s Outcome-Focused Portfolio Management

Great product managers exist at both market leading and market losing companies. So, what sets the two apart? Focusing on business, customer, and portfolio outcomes. By following the above steps and integrating all of these dimensions with time horizons, you’ll move from feature factory to outcome-based roadmapping. 

Using Dragonboat, whether your product portfolio management approach includes metrics like revenue, new market penetration velocity, platform uptime, or NPS scores, prioritization and resource allocation is simple and can be adjusted periodically in response to the market and business needs. 

“With Dragonboat, our Product Team can not only plan, evaluate and sequence work, but they are able to tie all their ideas directly to the target Company and Product Objectives, connect them to Jira, and get seamless and dynamic health and predicted end dates, all in one place. They can also easily manage up using the dashboard and allocation reporting features.”

-Jackie Orlando, Director of Product Operations, Tealium

As you can see, moving from feature-based to outcome-focused roadmapping can be done in a few simple steps. The right purpose-built tool will make the process even easier.

Why Dragonboat CTA

Becky Flint

Becky is a product and tech executive based in the Silicon Valley. She has built and scaled product and engineering teams globally for both startups and Fortune 500 companies. Currently Becky is the founder and CEO of Dragonboat with a mission to empower responsive leaders and their teams to build better products faster. Prior to founding dragonboat, Becky has held executive roles at Feedzai, Bigcommerce, Tinyprints/ Shutterfly, and PayPal.
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