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Question
Roadmapping
Paul McAvinchey
Co-founder of Product Collective
Asked a question last year

Should you show your roadmap to your customers?

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In general: absolutely, yes. Showing customers what's next in the product will increase engagement and can connect to leads/prospects for new deals. Showing a roadmap has a use case for both, installed base and sales.

The difficulty is rather how detailed of a roadmap you display and what sort of a commitment you provide on the timeline. This can be difficult and the 'correct' approach is highly dependent on how your customer relations work. B2B is totally different than B2C. Industries differ from each other. Large deals can by highly sensitive to roadmap items because they sometimes even sell on the roadmap. 

As a rule of thumb I'd like to recommend: show a roadmap to engage with customers and project a vision, but show as little as possible date/time commitments in order to not dissapoint customers in case of plan changes. This usually works well.

Kent J McDonald
Product Manager & Writer

Only if you’re willing to meet the promises you are explicitly (or implicitly) making by doing so.

Even if you intend for the roadmap to be informational only and your best guess, it’s fair to say that your customers are probably not going to consider the impact of uncertainty and assume that if you’re going to provide warp speed capability in the next quarter, that you’re going to have warp speed capability.

And they will be disappointed when you don’t deliver.

Ant Murphy
Product Coach and Consultant | Occasional Cat Herder 🐈

This is more of a brand strategy/customer engagement questions to me - do you want to be transparent and be public with your roadmap? Does that align to your brand traits/customer engagement or even company strategy?

The reason why I ask that question is because you've got to be doing it for the right reasons. Many companies have a public roadmap (some below) but they do so because it aligns to the transparent culture they have as a company, and they want that transparency to cultivate trust with the market and their customers - this is a deliberate strategy. 

The way you communicate also makes a difference. Dates, even indicative ones as @Kent J McDonald78 said easily become implicit promises which some may not be comfortable being able to deliver on them. 

Further some things on your roadmap you may not want to make public these are often omitted or again, depending on your brand strategy, some companies have taken to denote them as "super secret projects". 

Pros for sharing roadmap with customer/publically: 

  • Transparency which often translates to trust and customer advocacy.
  • Communication, especially in B2B spaces where your customers are likely needing to do work off the back of product changes, knowing indicative dates can help them. 
  • Selling the long term direction of the product to potential customers.
  • Turning customers into loyal partners vs transactional relationships.

Cons:

  • Roadmap turning into promises. Having to deliver on them. 
  • Changes may become unwelcomed as customers now have specific expectations.
  • Customer frustration when they don't see things they've asked for prioritized on the roadmap.
  • Having to omit anything sensitive.
  • Competition having access to it - but as they say "if you're copying your competitors you're already two steps behind"
  • A second roadmap to maintain (you're likely to not have the exact same roadmap for internal as for external use, for obvious reasons)

Neither are exhaustive but you get the picture. If your strategy aligns more with the pros and you're willing to take on the risk then go for it. But be deliberate about it.

Here are some example of companies with public roadmaps: