Are we there yet? Building a product roadmap for the web publishing platform

Taking a product approach can be quite a culture shift for a team. Sometimes we are more used to working on ‘projects’ where we tend to work on more discrete blocks of work and often aren’t the people who run the future service. The team who are developing the software might never meet the users or the staff running the training and supporting the service.

It may also be the case that the team who are building the product are also going to be running it operationally as a service and developing future functionality. In this case, it can make sense for the full team to be committed to and fully embedded in the whole product lifecycle and not just the software development lifecycle.

Project or Product – what’s the difference?

There is certainly a lot of overlap and similarity between what a project is and what a product is. The key differences is that projects have clear start and end dates. Projects tend to have a group of people working to deliver a particular set of outputs, which are handed over to another team to support and run as a service. Just to be clear, there is no right or wrong approach here.

One of the key reasons we want to move to a product approach is that it lends itself to creating a stable team that works together for longer periods of time. All the skills stay within the team and this makes it easier to move towards a continuous improvement approach. New functionality can be delivered more quickly to enable fast feedback and then adjustments are made and the cycle starts over again.

What is a product roadmap?

Having decided to take a product approach it’s good to be able to look into the future and start to plan out and document where you are going. One of the best ways to do this is to build a product roadmap. This should contain the strategic objectives and the direction you need the team to travel in. It should come from a vision for that product.

To create a world-class web platform that empowers our communities and promotes a model of excellence – our vision for our Web Publishing Platform

A product roadmap should contain business objectives that can be delivered over a defined timeframe and should be about themes of work to be completed rather than a detailed list of outputs or functionality. They also often come with a large disclaimer. A product roadmap should be a statement of intention rather than cast iron promises and guarantees. This is not a waterfall approach with fixed milestones but rather a way of communicating the bigger picture and helping key stakeholders to understand what is being achieved with the product. In this way it allows the team to test the water with ideas that currently don’t have any detail and to gauge reactions and get feedback from their user group.

Product roadmap for the Web Publishing Platform and the Design System

This is a really simple and high-level outline of the roadmap for the projects. We’ll start to share more information and detail over the next few months.

Table laying out product milestones for the Web Publishing Platform, Content Migration and the Design System

Alternative text for image of product roadmap for the Web Publishing Platform and the Design System

  • Web Publishing Platform
    • Oct/Nov/Dec 21 – Clear path to our first pilot site going live
    • Jan/Feb/Mar 22 – Launch first pilot site. Launch research site template
    • Apr/May/Jun 22 – Search improvements
    • Jul/Aug/Sept 22 – Web estate 100 – 100 new sites built on the platform
    • Oct/Nov/Dec 22 – Retire EdWeb
  • Content migration to new platform
    • Jan/Feb/Mar 22 – EdWeb site migration schedule published
    • Apr/May/Jun 22 – 25% EdWeb sites migrated
    • Jul/Aug/Sept 22 – 50% EdWeb sites migrated
    • Oct/Nov/Dec 22 – 100% EdWeb sites migrated
  • Design System
    • Oct/Nov/Dec 21 – Review existing design components – refine, remove, simplify. Identify new components
    • Jan/Feb/Mar 22 – Launch new DS website. New elements – e.g. nav/menu, Icons, Inclusive Language Guide
    • Apr/May/Jun 22 – Research, design, develop new elements for the design system. Review, refine, remove components
    • Jul/Aug/Sept 22 – Introduce new patterns  & components. Launch Community contribution service
    • Oct/Nov/Dec 22 – Continuous dev & improvement with new elements, patterns & guidance

Next steps and additional information

It’s a good time to remind people of our Web Publishing Community sessions we run nearly every month. This is a great way to keep up-to-date with the projects and ask us questions in an informal setting. The reason to mention this here is that we are running a session introducing the product approach and the product road map on Tuesday 26 October. We always record the event so if the date has passed you’ll be able to view the recording of the session on our support wiki.

Web Publishers’ Community sessions, recordings and future dates

Books on Product Management

  • ‘Strategize – Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age’
    • by Roman Pichler
  • ‘Escaping the Build Trap – How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value’
    • by Melissa Perri

Product Management Community

Mind the Product is an international product community who run regular conferences and events. They also have a huge amount of resources and free material on their website.

Mind the Product

 

 

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