Understanding what to work towards with the product roadmap

Sticking the finger up in the air and just going with the wind is not what we do for product development. In fact, we work towards the complete opposite. All product developments and enhancements take more than just throwing ideas around. We have limited resources. We have to make sure each product development phase has been meticulously analysed. Any development we make must be risk free and deliver a true benefit to our users.

Sure, there have been a handful of developments which didn’t work out as expected. This is part and parcel of building an ever evolving solution. Not quite Darwinism, but the same principles.

We conduct extensive research to draw up a shortlist of developments. Using emerging technologies/improvements is our first starting point. Similar to when we started development in 2011. We noticed the emerging technology that is WebRTC. We spent substantial amounts of time understanding the technology and ready about it before we went ahead and began incorporating it into our solution.

Emerging technologies

Take us back to 2011 when WebRTC entered the world as an open source technology. Or when ORTC tried to claim its stake within the browser communication world. Even look towards Safari now with their announcement to support WebRTC. As a startup, and any startup within any vertical of industry, has no choice but to be the first mover on technologies. Staying ahead of the game and ensuring you know what is around the corner.

It’s a risk you take, spending time and resources on emerging technology before any of the large corporate companies come steamrolling in. First mover advantage is never truer than in a startup. It’s what makes you stand out from the noise. It’s what get’s journalist writing about you and adding to your exposure.

User feedback

Alpha and Beta launches are where you are allowed to make mistakes. It’s an written rule. All the research in the world and you can still run into several barriers. You won’t ever know if you made it or not without obtaining real user feedback. The only way for that, is to take the plunge and work a bit of marketing to your target audience. Make it clear, oh so clear, that they are partaking in an alpha/beta trial. We aren’t here to hide. Go and see what people think of Drum over at Capterra. You will find raving reviews and those who have not had the best firs experience. But we don’t want these to hide. We want to learn from their experiences. There are frequently issues outside of our control. As much as would love to, we cannot do anything about this. What we can do, is try to pre warn users about the potential technical issues they will experience locally.

Here is a snapshot of some of the reviews.

Providing you have completed sufficient research, and selected the right type of beta users, then you should have a sufficient amount of relative feedback. Using this feedback to tinker and tailor your offering or solution is your first step. And then repeat this a couple of times and continue repeating until feedback becomes positive and minimal. It’s hard, we get it. It’s like that Chevvy nurtured back from the grave, you got everything up and running. The engine purrs like brand new. You send it to your garage for the once over. The last thing you want to hear is a list of things you need to change to make it safe. But it’s what need to be done. Swallow that pride, and make the necessary changes.

Our vision/preferred direction of Drum

We all need to move in the same direction. Woah! We aren’t saying it is always plain sailing or everyone here always has the same views.

Do you remember Brian who we spoke about previously? Well, Brian likes to have slightly varying thoughts on the direction and what works well. There is no dictatorship here. But we all need to come to some form of unified approach and find some middle ground of compromise.

Startpreneurs pulling in the opposite direction leaves the startup in stalemate. Progress not being made and ground being lost. Finances being drained and users experience being affected. Middle ground has to be found, and it has to be found quickly. That being said, we rarely find ourselves in this position. Like minded people join the team (and never leave! Well the last time someone left us it was over two years ago to go traveling). The process of inviting people to be a part of the Drum team is one of the most essential stages. If it isn’t a team fit, then it isn’t a fit full stop. No show horning and making exceptions.

Never works out that way!

It sounds we are saying it never works out within a team. But it does. The final thing we have always noticed is the desired end goal compared to the actual destination. Meticulous planning, the highest level of care and the dedicated resources sometimes still leaves us in the lurch. It is the nature of the technology world. Things change, things disrupt us and we can’t predict everything. But experience, and more experience, has helped at least understand the various outcomes.

We have spoken about it before.

The ups

and downs.

The expected and the unexpected. Planning for the unexpected is much harder than planning for the expected. There are so many different things we didn’t even knew existed that could creep in the way. So what to do? It’s like the weather, well in England at least it’s pretty unpredictable.

We could read three different weather reports which tell us three different types of weather. The day may unfold where none of them become apparent or all of them become apparent with rain, sun, wind and maybe even an electrical storm! It can be like that within the startup world. You may have tested the waters time and time again. You may have completed extensive levels of testing. But when it goes live, something just happens. We don’t know what causes it, nor do we know how to quickly fix it. We simply remain flexible and roll Drum back.

This might not just be a version release. It could be a six month project based around cutting edge technology. But, the flexibility a startup and its Startprenuers have make the ever changing landscape significantly easier to adapt to.

Roadmaps are awesome. We all need them. We all hate them. We know it is unlikely to ever pan out how we expected and the roadmap makes us ‘committed’ with the perceived flexibility removed. But without a roadmap, there is too much ‘finger in the air’ moments and not enough direction for a young or mature organisation. A roadmap should never be your be all and end all, but a loose structure you know will provide you with achievable and realistic goals.

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