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Outcome-oriented roadmaps

XC Staff

Being outcome-oriented enables your team to iterate toward the best solution. Outcome-oriented roadmaps align the product work to over-arching business goals and helps communicate the current and future state of your product.

Plan around outcomes, not features

Roadmaps facilitate alignment and cross-team coordination

Your roadmap might be your most important communication tool as a Product Manager. It creates visibility into your work for people outside of your immediate product team. It helps product sponsors and key stakeholders across the business to understand your product vision, your goals and the steps you intend to take to achieve those goals.

You should use your roadmap to help stakeholders, collaborators and product sponsors understand what is coming up next and to coordinate joint efforts and dependencies with other teams. By clearly communicating your goals and priorities, you will help surface important conversations early and keep the product work aligned with the business' needs and priorities.

Be stubborn on vision and flexible on details

If you've seen a product roadmap before, chances are you've seen a comprehensive plan spanning several years, with detailed feature specs, timelines, work estimates and ROI predictions.

Lean and agile product teams approach product planning differently. No plan survives its first encounter with reality. We learn more from building and releasing features than from planning. Additionally, we reduce risk in our deployments by deploying incrementally with smaller net changes. Remember, we work in build-measure-learn cycles! Therefore, we should spread our planning over the course of the project instead of front-loading our work with detailed plans.

What matters is that we get to the right place in the end, not that we follow the exact path we envisioned when we set out on our journey. Rather than try to optimize for predictability in an inherently unpredictable world, we optimize for learning and responding to change as quickly and cheaply as possible. With the product vision as our north star, we articulate a high-level direction for getting to that vision (our product strategy) and define a plan for our immediate next steps (our product roadmap). As we move forward and learn more than what we knew when we started, we refine and adjust our roadmap accordingly.

Outcomes matter more than features

The roadmap should emphasize the results we want to create (like improved product and business metrics) rather than the features we believe should be part of our product. This approach creates agreement on what success looks like while enabling us to be flexible in our solution. Being outcome-oriented enables us to iterate toward the best solution as we learn more about the market, our customers, users and what's technically feasible. In addition to focusing us on the impact we want to have through our product, an outcome-based approach to planning helps us:

  • Create shared understanding around why we are building the product.
  • Create alignment between stakeholders, sponsors and the product team.
  • Prioritize feature ideas and requests better, because our team mandate is clearer.
  • Feel more engaged in our work by being empowered to solve a problem.
  • Figure out which parts of our strategy are working and which are not.

Create an outcome-oriented product roadmap

Your product roadmap describes how your product is likely to evolve over time.

Work backward from your vision and strategy

Your roadmap should consist of sequential goals (your strategy) that help build toward your vision. To define your goals, identify the key challenges you need to overcome first. Also look at any known strategic outcomes that have been defined by the business.

Outcomes are the important measurable impacts we want to create for our customers and our business, like increased market share, more paying customers or reduced tech debt.

You should have clarity on:

  • The problems that need to be solved and how you intend to solve them.
  • How you will know you've solved them.

Identify the work that needs to get done first

Once you know your business goals, capture your assumptions about how you might reach those goals. You probably want to identify and validate your assumptions about what customer problems you need to solve, the features that solve for those problems, how you might design and implement those features, the business value the solution would deliver, and possibly how you'd market and operationalize the product.

When you prioritize assumptions to validate and product work to execute on, think about:

  • What dependencies do you need to solve for first?
  • What do you need to learn first?

This will help you create a list of learning objectives, features and activities you believe will help make an impact against your business' strategic objectives.

Plan across three horizons

To communicate the rough order of your priorities, organize your roadmap in three time horizons:

Current. This is work you are doing now.
Near Term. This is work coming up soon.
Future. This is work you're thinking of doing but need to research more.

It's most important to have clarity on your first few goals. Your roadmap will evolve and change over time, and the farther out a goal is, the more it is likely to change before you get to it.

Example: Interoperability


“At Humana, we work to improve healthcare and make it more accessible. We have high expectations for ourselves and our suppliers in order to deliver our best to the communities we serve.” --

Current State

Electronic health records have been deployed at the majority of U.S. hospitals, leading patients to believe that their medical information is accessible to the clinicians they trust. However, there are significant barriers preventing data sharing across organizations due to the organic development of multiple healthcare systems that were never built to communicate with each other. In addition, there are significant barriers preventing patients from accessing their own health records electronically.

In recent years, CMS and other government entities have begun to encourage data sharing through release of their own APIs and development of new legislation around data interoperability. The most recent proposed rules will require payers, providers, an EMRs to share healthcare data with third parties through open APIs moderated by consumer consent.

The Opportunity

Humana can help pave the way to achieve interoperability within the insurance industry. We can make it possible for Humana members to access their Healthcare data electronically through any third party of their choice. We can also enable our members or potential members to share their data from other healthcare entities with us in order to improve their experience interacting with our applications and to help personalize their healthcare delivery in the future.

Product Vision

Build solutions to put consumers in control of their healthcare data.

Product Strategy

Create secure APIs to enable members to share their Humana data with their favorite companies and applications and enable consumers to share their healthcare data with Humana.

Interoperability Outcome-Oriented Roadmap

Current Near-term Future
Desired outcomes We can prove our ability to exchange data through APIs in response to consumer consent We will meet the proposed CMS interoperability requirements by 2020 Members and potential members can share their healthcare data across entities
Key challenges to overcome Humana has no existing FHIR server or APIs for external entities to consume Only 3 of 5 required APIs have been created, and our APIs and consent management solutions have not been tested by others Humana has no existing process through which to review, approve, and integrate with external applications
Success metrics We have successfully demonstrated our ability to deliver / receive data through APIs for key internal stakeholders We have delivered all 5 APIs required and have tested API integration with internal and external parties We have successfully integrated with third party applications
Features. Create secure APIs to deliver patient, coverage, and explanation of benefits in response to consumer consent Create APIs for provider directory and drug formulary To be defined

Further reading

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