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Lately, my focus at the day job has been translating our annual plans into quarterly roadmaps for internal enablement and external broadcasting. This is pretty common practice at an enterprise SaaS company at the beginning of the year - sales kickoff, field training, partner updates, etc. What isn’t standardized across SaaS products is how to frame your roadmap for maximum impact. I’m basically referring to the storyboard of the roadmap slide deck. Here are various was I’ve seen it assembled:
mirrors the org design of R&D (product / engineering / design) departments
bucketed by different product lines (SKUs) that sales / marketing position
oriented along pricing and packaging offerings (free / paid / premium)
tied to the tactics that ladder up to the product / GTM strategy (~ 12 mo horizon)
aligned around the broader company goals / business outcomes being driven
key differentiators that are the reasons buyers buy and users use your product
The last one is my default / favorite - if you can get it right, you have a roadmap storyboard that can last for a few years (or at until the next act of your company).
Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to pressure test the “differentiators” of many products through my own work, advising peers, and evaluating competition. There are 3 questions that make up my “sniff test” for whether a set of differentiators are legit, and these can be applied to any type of product (doesn’t have to be enterprise SaaS).
Is it a structural advantage that’s not easy for a competitor to replicate?
Does it represent a unique point of view on how the market is evolving?
Is it accurate (vs aspirational) in terms of the product that exists today?
Try it for yourself on your product. If the answers to all these questions are “no” or “meh”, you might have a bunch of interesting talking points, but no true differentiators.
I’d love to hear from readers about how they storyboard their roadmaps and how they suss out differentiators - please chime in via comments👇. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
further reading / references
Conway’s Conundrum is a past audio post where I talk about shipping your org chart
you can think of product differentiators as the final point in a brilliant sales narrative
for features that don’t really differentiate your product AND take up mindshare / bandwidth to keep afloat, consider deprecation
childish drawing / interpretation