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

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

OKR Product Management: Aligning Product OKRs to Outcome-Focused Roadmaps

Product management goes beyond addressing customer needs. It is about balancing customer requests, product initiatives, and your company’s strategic vision. If your organization uses OKRs as a goal-setting framework, aligning product OKRs and initiatives is key to determining which features to prioritize. In this blog, we will show you how to use product OKRs to create outcome-focused roadmaps and build customer-loved products that drive business success.

What is an OKR?

OKR stands for “Objectives and Key Results” – a framework for companies to set and track measurable goals. Objectives outline what you want to achieve, while Key Results help you measure progress.

Here are some key terms in the OKR product management framework:

  • Goals: The high-level mission or vision of an organization.
    • Example: Become the top digital banking service in the country.
  • Objectives: Specific, measurable steps to achieve your goals.
    • Example: Increase the number of users on our mobile banking app by 15% within the next year by adding new features and expanding marketing efforts.
  • Initiatives: Specific projects that help you achieve your objectives.
    • Example: Create and launch an in-app international money transfer feature.
  • Key Results: Measurable outcomes showing progress towards objectives. These should be specific, quantifiable, and time-bound.
    • Example: Reach a 15% increase in monthly active users of the app within six months of launching the new international transfer feature.

Companies use OKRs at the organizational, team, and individual levels. So, product OKRs are simply your product team’s OKRs (objectives and key results). Setting OKRs for product managers helps to align efforts toward achieving product-related objectives, such as increasing product adoption, that support the company’s strategic goals. 

Product management OKRs are essential in driving product innovation and enabling data-driven prioritization decisions because they highlight the impact of each initiative on business outcomes. Then, once you establish product OKRs, you can maintain them throughout product roadmap planning, resource allocation, and progress tracking. 

How Do Companies Use OKRs?

Companies apply OKRs to establish clear goals with measurable results and align teams around shared objectives. OKRs are used throughout an organization to promote transparency, accountability, and a focus on achieving impactful outcomes.

An Example of Multi-Level OKRs

To illustrate, let’s look at an example of how companies can use the OKR process to translate high-level business goals into specific team OKRs.

  • Management Objective: Grow our business. Key Result: Increase annual revenue by 20%
  • Marketing Objective: Optimize customer acquisition. Key Result: Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) by 20% in Q3

This marketing OKR aims to optimize customer acquisition by reducing Customer Acquisition Costs. By lowering CAC, the marketing team can effectively acquire more customers with the same budget, ultimately contributing to the management OKR of growing the business. As a result, the company can allocate saved resources to other growth opportunities, further supporting the overall business expansion.

  • Product Objective: Improve the quality of our products. Key Result: Resolve customer-reported bugs within two weeks

This product OKR example aims to increase product quality. By quickly addressing and fixing these issues, the company can enhance customer satisfaction and the user experience. As a result, this can lead to increased customer retention, positive word-of-mouth, and potential new customers, all of which contribute to the management OKR of growing the business.

  • Customer Success Objective: Enhance enterprise customer satisfaction. Key Result: Increase satisfaction rate from 4.2 to 4.8 

This customer success OKR aims to enhance enterprise customer satisfaction. By improving customer satisfaction, the company can foster stronger relationships with its enterprise clients, leading to increased loyalty, higher retention rates, and potential upselling opportunities. These factors directly contribute to the management OKR of growing the business. 

Each team OKR is specific, measurable, and aligned with the overall strategic objective to increase annual revenue. So, the beauty of the OKR approach is that it allows you to measure progress at every level to ensure results.

  1. Define your product OKRs
  2. Prioritize product initiatives within OKRs
  3. Estimate the investment, then allocate resources
  4. Track progress in a product OKR dashboard
  5. Report results to stakeholders

So, let’s bring it back to product. An OKR Product Management approach improves outcomes by reducing the number of irrelevant roadmap features, streamlining release processes, and enabling better product-market fit. 

Product teams use various tools for product management ranging from humble spreadsheets to complex software solutions. But when adopting an OKR product management approach, we recommend using a purpose-built tool like Dragonboat to connect product OKRs to outcome-focused product roadmaps seamlessly. Below we will show you how step-by-step:

1. Define Product OKRs

To create focus and alignment with your product OKRs, consider these three tips:

  1. Set quantifiable key results to measure progress while being mindful of prior OKRs for continuity.
  2. Confirm that your product OKRs align with strategic company goals
  3. Allocate appropriate resources to ensure achievable outcomes.

Using Dragonboat makes setting and managing objectives easy. You can add new OKRs, including product team OKRs, from any portfolio page and manage them from the goal-setting page or outcome module. The screenshot below shows you how this looks. 

When defining OKRs, you can also allocate resources by percentage or absolute number, enabling you to track and monitor progress to keep teams and product roadmaps aligned. Once you define your product OKRs, they become the baseline for your entire product strategy.

Shreenshot of setting product OKRs using Dragonboat.

When using a tool, you should be able to easily manage your objectives. In Dragonboat, you can Add, Edit, Merge, Archive, or Delete Objectives on the Feature Board page. From there, you can add subgoals to your OKRs to clearly map out your goal setting.

You can also add allocation, either by percentage or by an absolute number, for each OKR. So your target can later be matched with your plan to keep your teams and roadmap aligned. 

You now have your OKRs clearly defined in your tool. Take your time with this step, as it will serve as the baseline for the rest of your product strategy.


2. Prioritize Product Initiatives Within OKRs

An outcome-driven organization prioritizes initiatives for the relevant OKRs based on how much they contribute to each objective vs. the effort required to deliver the benefit. The metric to measure this is called MoAR, or Metric Over Available Resources.  

When using a product management tool such as Dragonboat, you can add features or initiatives and map them to OKRs, as shown below. 

Screenshot of mapping OKRs to initiatives in Dragonboat.

If you also use MoAR to evaluate and prioritize your features quantitatively, you can add your benefit score to the Feature List page, as illustrated.


3. Estimate the Investment, Then Allocate Resources

Although estimating the investment required to reach each objective and prioritizing initiatives is important, you must also allocate resources across all OKRs. So, Dragonboat provides a high-level view of resource needs and current allocations (shown below). Reviewing your allocations from this perspective allows you to re-balance to maximize the impact of your product efforts and achieve target outcomes. 

Screenshot of a report in Dragonboat showing resource allocations across objectives.


4. Track Progress in a Product OKR Dashboard

To stay on track, monitoring the progress of your OKRs (outcomes) and product roadmaps (initiatives) is crucial. Dragonboat simplifies progress tracking by allowing you to easily view and update the status and health of your objectives and initiatives without any additional configurations.

Screenshot of a product OKR dashboard in Dragonboat.

The snapshot page above provides a convenient way for product teams and executives to view outcome and roadmap progress side-by-side, with all metrics displayed in a single pane. 

For additional insight, integrations with tools like Jira, Github, or Asana provide real-time trend data, making progress tracking and roll-up reporting seamless.


5. Report Results to Stakeholders

You have spent a lot of time defining how your product OKRs can benefit your company, managing initiatives, and guiding your team’s work. Your progress is integral to your company’s success, important toward driving organizational alignment, and helps you focus on achieving outcomes rather than just delivering outputs. 

A good tool will make sharing results with key stakeholders, executives, and team members easy. Below is a simple example of a report using Dragonboat.

Screenshot of a stakeholder report in Dragonboat.

Key Takeaways

Outcome-focused organizations often use the OKR framework to guide decisions and expect their product teams to do the same. When this is the case, aligning product OKRS to your product roadmaps can help you prioritize initiatives that will most impact business outcomes. That will enable you to make data-driven decisions and create transparency and accountability at all levels.

A purpose-built tool like Dragonboat can help you do this by guiding you through defining OKRs, prioritizing initiatives, allocating resources, and tracking and reporting results. Schedule a demo today or sign up for a free trial to see it yourself.


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