Since we opened our doors, we’ve had many customer conversations about the future of 6Q, and where we are heading. We recently invited customers to view our product roadmap, and we explain why we have taken this approach, and why you should too.
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a powerful method to describe how a product is likely to grow, with planned features, stakeholder input, etc. This helps align the team working on the product, and to set expectations on priorities and timelines.
Why do we have a product roadmap?
Since starting 6Q, we’ve been juggling feature requests and bug reports from customers, our own team and other stakeholders. Having a product roadmap is vital to be able to understand what is being worked on next, and what the medium term product direction looks like.
We use ours to prioritise where time should be spent, and to collect ideas and suggestions.
We collate feature requests, and add them to a list in Trello, and then assign importance, based on factors such as repeat requests, size of customer, impact on customers, impact on possible benefits to use in sales, and our overall product direction and philosophy.
These then get moved to lists as we progress these tasks towards becoming part of a future product release. We average a release each week, with some weeks having 3-4 releases, and other releases are larger, and take multiple weeks to progress through testing and QA services before being available on our live environment.
What are we sharing?
We have our internal roadmap, which is full of comments and acronyms and not overly useful for customer consumption. So, we’ve created a more palatable one, which features a subset of features we are working on, or plan to work on. We’ve previously discussed our own internal roadmap and feature planning, in the post How our startup handles feature requests.
The roadmap is filed on Trello, a software tool that we use hourly here, and is broken down by three categories, being current, medium term and long term. These terms should be fairly evident.
Sure, we know that some medium or long term features may change, according to customer validation and direction, however we are willing to take that risk, and keep our customers informed. We believe that our customers will understand our reasoning, and openness in discussions.
We are also careful to only reveal a few of the key features in such a public way. Whilst we don’t believe in ‘spying on the competition’, we are aware that not everyone in our industry may feel the same way. Rather than reveal a competitive advantage, we prefer to take a quieter approach.
So, why do we share a product roadmap?
For us, we believe that sharing our product roadmap affirms our commitment to transparency with our customers, and shows our promise of customer-first thinking.
We know that we don’t have all the answers, and as real use of our product continues, in various organisations with different cultural backgrounds and requirements, we are collecting valuable information from both customer requests as well as data collation and interaction tracking.
Whilst we ‘eat our own dog food’ and use 6Q on our own team of 13 people, we are only a very small team, compared to many of our customers, who have hundreds, if not thousands of employees.
As a result, we are constantly encouraging customer feedback. Having a product roadmap that we share with our customers helps collect feedback and thoughts on what we have planned, and what the direction of our product is.
Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering.
– Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft
How do I provide feedback?
If you are a free trial or paying customer, we are keen to hear your thoughts. We created 6Q to be useful for you, and without input from our customers, we’d feel we are not scheduling the most optimal of our time.
We ask that you reach out to us via our support email, so we can track and assign the request or feedback. We get back in touch, personally, to every request, and each request is considered.
As a software as a service product, 6Q relies on customers to embrace our product vision and help mature our product and business, through both feedback, referrals and funding. Without customers, we would not be in business, and without their feedback, we would be making assumptions on how other organisations would use our product.
We believe it is vital for any software developers to be constantly questioning what they are doing, and seeking advice from the stakeholders who matter most; the customers actually using the product.
We strongly encourage any other startups or software developers to do the same, and share their product roadmap with their customers; it’s an insightful and very valuable process.