Any successful SaaS provider knows a well thought-out product roadmap is a critical aspect of their business. Product roadmaps provide a framework for technology developments, and help a company to determine a set of needs and what is required to satisfy those needs. More importantly, roadmaps prevent premature product launches, provide goals for employees, and offer a great opportunity to measure success.
When evaluating service providers, property owners and managers often want to know what a company’s development plans are and how they reach their decisions. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to distinguish between the thought leaders and the average joes, so we wanted to share our “10 Commandments of Product Development Planning,” gleaned from over 12 years of best practice pursuit. They are:
- Thou shalt be market-driven. We craft our priorities and expansion plans around the priorities of our customer set and market space.
- Thou shalt be agile. We don’t try to plan too far ahead, but allow ourselves the ability to change and be highly responsive to our customers’ needs, which are often unique.
- Thou shalt remember to listen very, very closely to your customers. We form customer focus groups to interview groups of customers in support of every new major feature development project. We allow them huge input and impact on what we do; we acknowledge that they know more about what they need than we do, and our job is to harvest that information in a way that allows us to serve them and our broad customer base best.
- Thou shalt continuously innovate. We ship new web and mobile product updates frequently – usually once a month. This allows us the pace of continuous innovation, which is rare in our market and precisely what our customers tell us they need.
- Thou shalt make smart choices. We try to focus on powerful but lightweight features that are as easy to use as possible, yet provide sophistication and intelligence.
- Thou shalt pay attention. We carefully monitor adoption and usage of our most important features, and we strive to improve those features over time to ensure that they are highly usable and valuable to our customers.
- Thou shalt place high value on the customer’s customer (in our case, the tenant). We understand that our customers are extremely busy people with enormous responsibilities. They deserve a rich toolset that makes their lives easier, anticipates problems, and does as much of the mundane admin work for them as possible.
- Thou shalt be aware of boundaries. We are a privately held company, and are driven through organic growth. As such, we cannot do everything at once, so our focus must be on the right things: the union of the things our customers most need, whether they know it or not!
- Thou shalt be analytical. Prioritizing feature development is generally a math exercise driven by the amount of our customer base requesting the feature, the market that is demanding new and better things in different areas that we consider part of our wheelhouse, and the related opportunity and cost.
- Thou shalt believe. We believe that our market is generally underserved in terms of the things that we hold to be most important. We believe in actionable data. We believe in management by exception. We believe in an efficient service delivery workforce which is inherently mobile. We believe in our product.