As a product manager, your role isn’t to just keep adding new fancy features to your web conferencing tool. You need to focus on the right features that customers actually want—if not, you’re putting all your energy and focus in the wrong place.
However, without a solid game plan and structure, it’s impossible to build a web conference platform that customers love. You’ll be spinning your wheels and banging your head against the wall as you desperately try to meet their expectations.
The Importance of Laying Out a Product Roadmap
Product managers have a lot on their plate. They have to deal with high expectations, stakeholder pressure, and multiple assigned tasks.
One of their biggest challenges is understanding what customers are looking for in their product. In fact, 49% of product managers don’t have access to research on what features their audience finds most valuable.
Thankfully, laying out a product roadmap helps you outline the long-term product development plan so you can build a web conferencing platform that customers love. Here’s why:
Clarify Your Product’s Main Priorities
An effective product manager can’t say yes to every feature request by stakeholders. They should only focus on the features that truly make a difference in the customer’s product experience, making prioritization an essential step.
For example, as a web conference company, your product cannot neglect audio in its roadmap. The best high-quality video will never make up for low audio quality. After all, you’re building a communication tool: If users often experience background noise or glitches during calls, your platform becomes obsolete.
Improve Communication and Collaboration With Stakeholders
Another benefit that comes with a product roadmap is that it helps you align with stakeholders. A roadmap helps them understand why you prioritize specific features, your long-term strategy, and how you plan to achieve your goals.
As a result, it naturally improves communication and makes it easier to get their buy-in. Stakeholders will be able to use it as a starting point for future discussions and adjustments down the line.
Cement Your Product Positioning
Product positioning needs to be part of every company’s strategy. It helps identify the ways that your product benefits your target audience, along with what makes it stand out from the crowd.
A product roadmap makes the positioning process smoother and efficient. It helps you identify gaps, opportunities where you can stand out, and how you can deliver a better product than the competition.
Prerequisites Before Designing Your Product Roadmap
There are a couple of things to prepare before building your product roadmap. These include:
1. Product Strategy
A product strategy outlines your company’s mission and goals. It consists of diving deep into your target audience, their needs, and how your product plans to meet them. It consists of two parts:
A product vision is a mission statement of what your company stands for. For example, your product vision as a web conferencing company could be to create exceptional communication experiences for your customers.
Next, you’ll need to get more into detail by outlining your strategic goals. Here are examples of what these strategic goals might look like:
- Improve your product’s average online customer ratings by one star with higher-quality audio.
- Increase your web conference tool’s retention rate by 20%.
2. Feature Prioritization
Once you have a clear product strategy in mind, it’s time to identify which features to prioritize to build your web conference tool and meet customer expectations. Here are two effective methods you can use to prioritize features as you build your web conference platform:
The MoSCoW method is a popular and effective way to prioritize your features. It gives you a full scope of what features should top your list based on their necessity:
- Must-Have, Non-Negotiable Features: These are the features that are indispensable for your web conference tool. It includes features such as high-quality audio, security, and cloud hosting.
- Should Have Features: Any feature that adds significant value to your product but isn’t vital for it to function correctly.
- Could Have Features: These are features that would be nice to include but won’t make too much of a difference if you leave them out.
- Will Not Have Features: Any feature currently not a priority in your product roadmap.
Another popular feature prioritization strategy is Intercom’s RICE method, which stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It’s a good method for identifying which feature will have a stronger impact on customers.
Reach: How many people will this new feature reach over a specific time frame (month, quarter, etc)?
Impact: What kind of impact will it generate (more sign-ups, less churn, etc)? Use this scoring criteria to measure the impact:
- 3 = massive impact
- 2 = high impact
- 1 = medium impact
- .5 = low impact
- .25 = minimal impact
Confidence: Based on the data, how confident is your team that this new feature will deliver results? Here’s a percentage score to weigh in:
- 100%: High confidence
- 80%: Medium confidence
- 50%: Low confidence
Effort: You’ll consider the investment it will take to build this new feature. Measure it by estimating the total number of people on the project.
Once you have all these numbers for each feature, here’s the formula you can use to calculate your overall RICE score:
Building Your Product Roadmap
Now’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: After identifying the most important features for customers, it’s time to write down the specific steps your team will take to achieve your goals. Here are the different formats you can use to build your product roadmap:
A now-next-later roadmap outlines a hierarchy to your tasks across the project timeline. It doesn’t include a specific time frame and remains fairly broad. The roadmap will divide your tasks into three different categories:
- Now: Features that are currently your main priority. Since it’s the task you’re currently working on, it should include as many details such as possible, such as your goals.
- Next: These are any features you’ll be working on for the next couple of weeks. For now, they don’t need as much detail as tasks in the “now” section.
- Later: Tasks in the “later” category are any features put on hold. They don’t need to have specific deadlines just yet.
When you’re building out a web conference tool, audio should be in the “now” category. Not only is it an aspect of the web conference experience users can’t live without, but it’s also an area where you can stand out from the rest. It’s what’s going to recreate a real face-to-face conversation, even if users are talking to each other across the world.
Release Timeline Roadmap
A release timeline roadmap is used to prepare everything your team must accomplish before releasing your product.
It’s a document that aligns everyone on your team (engineering, sales, and marketing) so your web conference tool is ready for delivery to customers. Here are the different elements that compose a feature release roadmap:
It’s important to start testing the baseline audio performance in earlier milestones (such as beta releases). That way, you know where and how to improve it to meet user expectations.
The Kanban roadmap divides your tasks into four separate categories: backlog, to-do, in process, and completed. It helps you understand the big picture of your product strategy. Here’s an example of what it looks like:
Unlike the release roadmap, it doesn’t have to include any specific dates. It’s a very practical document to show your executive team the progress you’re making on product development.
The good news is that when you use Dolby’s interactivity API, audio is a task that can move quickly through the Kanban roadmap. It allows developers to improve your web conference tool’s audio with just a couple of lines of code so that you can get from prototype to production quickly.
Don’t forget your priorities and timelines can be subject to change. Many factors could influence the direction of your product roadmap.
Let your shareholders and other team members know it’s possible to update the roadmap based on your current needs. Whether it’s because of a change in customer preferences or unexpected obstacles, you’ll always be able to adapt.
Sharing the Product Roadmap With Your Team
As you build your product roadmap, don’t forget to include your team members as part of the process. They need to be in the loop so they can provide their feedback and collaborate effectively.
However, the way you’ll communicate the product roadmap to team members will depend on their department. Here’s how you can align with the rest of your company during product development:
The first people you’ll have to present your product roadmap to is your executive team. The goal of the meeting will be to get their buy-in and explain the rationale behind your strategy.
As you share your product roadmap with the leadership team, highlight how it aligns with your company’s mission, strategy, and goals. Make sure to focus on the big picture and on the metrics they care about the most.
The next most crucial department to align with is your engineering team. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be building the platform from the ground up for customers.
As you sit down with your engineers, make sure to explain what type of problems your product roadmap is solving. Let them know about the releases they can expect and their requirements.
Your engineers can also provide valuable feedback on the viability of features and suggestions you can use to improve your product roadmap.
Your sales team is at the forefront of customer communication. They play a vital role in converting new prospects to your web conference platform and retaining existing customers.
They’ll need to understand how your new product roadmap and its unique features will better meet your customers’ needs. Explain to them why the new functionalities will matter to the customer and improve the web conferencing experience.
That way, once the new features are released, they’ll know exactly how to present them to potential customers and land new sales.
Your marketing team is constantly looking for ways to promote your product to your target audience and explaining its benefits. Their role is also to track trends and monitor what the competition is doing.
Your marketing team needs to understand the strategy behind your roadmap and how it fits the overall vision of the product. Their expertise will help you if the roadmap is going in the right direction.
Just like sales, your customer support team will also often be interacting with your customers. They’ll need to know about the release of your upcoming features and what will help the customer troubleshoot ahead of time.
Keeping your support team up-to-date will ensure that if the customer ever has an issue with the new feature, the problem is solved immediately.
Create the Best Web Conferencing Experience Thanks to High-Quality Audio
A product roadmap is needed to ensure that your web conference platform is going in the right direction. While outlining your roadmap, however, one mistake you can make is neglecting audio. It’s what could make or break your web conferencing experience and lead customers to choose the competition.
Think about it this way: Even if your web conference video quality gets glitchy at some point in the call, as long as the audio’s on point, customers will still be able to communicate. However, if the audio quality is low, they’ll have no choice but to cancel and reschedule the meeting.
That’s where we can help. At Dolby, we combine more than 50 years of experience in sound research and the best technology to help web conference platforms create a next-level audio experience. To learn more, sign up for a free trial today.