I once had a difficult (and very long) conversation with a Director in a software business. I worked in about the importance of roadmaps. Or rather, I asked to see the roadmap for his products. He said he didn’t have one as
“we don’t need one."
This struck me as odd, but as a junior staff member I didn’t really know how to disagree with him, just that it ‘felt wrong’ not to have one.
The memory of this discussion surfaces about this time every year as its about now we settle on a product roadmap for the forthcoming year. Before we finally sign it off, we also review how well we delivered against the previous year’s plan.
Happily, I can say that in 2021, our teams delivered in spades.
We launched (and sold!) more new products in ’21 than any year since we were acquired by Volaris with over 80% of those products developed in partnership with customers. This is an important metric for us as it evidences that we are investing wisely and further strengthening our relationships with our customer base. Win Win!
Successful delivery in 2021
Also important is that we delivered everything we committed to on our roadmap, and 2021’s roadmap was pivotal for Shipnet as we continue into the second year of our product transformation strategy. That ‘transformation’ being the transition from an on-prem, client-server product to a web/SaaS centred business.
The strategy came about from an extensive set of workshops and interviews we conducted with existing customers, partners, prospects and ex- customers in Q3 and Q4 of 2020. Those discussions led to a product strategy to guide Shipnet into a more modern age by 2023, and the product roadmap is the set of individual deliverables that we need to produce to get there on time, all whilst successfully achieving our business goals.
We’ve listened, your suggestions are on the roadmap for 2022
So, the next part of Q4’s planning activities is getting next year’s roadmap finalised. The starting point for this is the basket of customer suggestions made in 2021. There is also a wide array of ideas driven by our own staff - developers, product, support and sales have all chipped in with things they know our customers have been asking for. On top of that we have the next wave of web (and mobile!) products we committed to deliver when we signed off our product transformation strategy in January of 2021. A big order to fill, but we’ve been hiring in advance of getting that party started.
So with all this in mind, and thinking back to my former colleague and that long and difficult discussion, do I now know why the lack of a roadmap in that business felt so wrong? Well, what I felt but couldn’t articulate back then, was that a lack of product roadmap evidenced a lack of product strategy, and a lack of product strategy means that you don’t know where you are going, or why you are going there.
Thankfully here at Shipnet we know where we are going and how we are going to get there. No one can guarantee the results - but what we can guarantee is we have a lot of work to get the next set of products out the door.
But who doesn’t love that kind of challenge, especially with a map to help us enroute?