First Principles • Cogmap is the tool people use for building, maintaining and sharing organization charts online • The goal is data accumulation and a sustainable revenue stream with minimal effort First Principles - Clearly explain why your product exists and your approach to running it. This could be a mission statement, tenets, or principles. The important thing is that you believe in them, and by pinning them at the top of every roadmap it will be clear if what follows in the roadmap doesn't match your principles. For Quora, a couple principles might be, "We help the world get their questions answered now, and we create a lasting resource for others who may have the same question in the future. We focus on getting high quality questions and answers, not the most questions and answers."
Goals for 2013 • Grow page views to 5m per month • Grow contributed charts to 10,000 per month Goals & Progress Against Goals - If the roadmap is new, lay out your (numeric) goals. Explain what the metrics are, what time period the goal is set on, and what the starting and ending values are. If the roadmap is an update, state (numerically) how you are doing vs. plan for each goal. For each goal, give some context and explain what has happened in the time since the last roadmap update. State whether you are on track to meet the goal, and if not, what you are doing to get on track.
Recent Updates • Gave private mappers ability to manage ACLs more easily in response to user requests – decreased support time by 50% • Force users to add a comment when they edit and save a map to create more historical reference data Recent Updates - What's been going on recently with the product? What has been delivered since the last roadmap update? Explain what's gone well, what hasn't, and what you've learned. Don't just say a project was a win, show it numerically. If you don't have a clear metric that shows it was a win, try to demonstrate it in other ways (e.g. by comparing to a benchmark or including some sample user feedback). Many people are shocked at what actually has gotten done.
Q1 Themes • Refresh UI for 2013 – UI has not been improved in several years • Bug fixes – Code has not been edited in two years, backlog of bugs is significant, lay the framework for new features in second half Themes (near-term) - What are you going to be focusing on between now and the next roadmap update (e.g. next quarter)? Don't just list individual projects, list the important themes, and explain why the themes are important. The reader should understand why you picked each theme, and why you prioritized it above other ones. Potential themes for Quora might be, "Increasing question volume", "Automating spam prevention and detection", or "Moderation tool scaling". It's okay to list individual projects that will be key in supporting each theme, but don't fall into the trap of just listing projects. You would like to live in a world where you commit to themes on a quarterly basis and don’t do non-theme things, but that has rarely been practical for me.
Long Term Themes • Introduce monetization schemes • Improve ability to scale large maps and performance Themes (long-term) - What are the most important themes over the next year? These are similar to the near-term themes above, and possibly a continuation, but over a longer time horizon. The near or long term themes should not be comprehensive and cover everything your team is working on, but they should cover the significant pieces, and roughly line up with how you are allocating your team's resources. Historically, my long-term themes tend to be more “meta” and encompass my short term themes. Short term themes may relate to a specific aspect of product adoption. Long term themes may speak to the nature of product adoption.
Cogmap 2013 Roadmap Individual Projects - List each project you plan to deliver throughout the year with a brief description, a size estimate, which theme it corresponds to, and when you expect to deliver it. Most organizations expect the document to get sparser as you look further into the future, reserving increasing amounts of capacity for “surprises”. Rather than tie it directly to themes or put out size estimates, people tend to want to know when it will ship, so I present a table like this organized by product.
Out of Scope for 2013 • Monetization • Viral marketing strategies This is my addition to Ian McAllister’s work. I think it is worth it, frequently, to tell people what you are not doing.