Why don’t more technology platforms have published roadmaps? A product roadmap, in this case for a company’s platform offering, would be a detailed list of fixes and new features in upcoming releases/revisions of the platform. In its most comprehensive and impressive form, the roadmap will include future release dates, version numbers and even advanced documentation on method signature and event changes.
The benefits of a published roadmap could be beneficial to both the company and the developer/user community. Yet, it’s a rare thing to see a roadmap of features available for your platform of choice. Here are 5 possible reasons that a company (or engineering team) wouldn’t publish roadmaps:
1. The company doesn’t know or plan releases. Amongst platforms that I would love to view roadmaps of, I really hope and doubt this is the case. How could a company not know what they are working on in terms of new platform features or fixes? I suppose there has to be some out there that wouldn’t publish a roadmap for this reason, but it’s got to be the last possible reason.
2. The company has low confidence in engineering team. Probably and sadly a bit closer to reality, the company may have a tough time keeping to previously released schedules and as a result, has little confidence in its engineering team to deliver on time. There are other factors in the release process such as sufficient resources, timely QA, scope creep and such. Still, to find yourself in this situation is not good.
3. Admission of guilt. If you publish a list of ‘bugs to be fixed’ too soon, it may show how many flaws there really are in an existing release and force your users/community to lose confidence in the current (and possibly future) release of the platform.
4. The company fears competition will steal their thunder. I’d like to think this is the most frequent reason you don’t release a roadmap. Should you announce your plans to early, via a published roadmap, of ground-breaking new features, you may open the door for your competition to take on those tasks as well. Keeping new features close to your vest can prevent this.
5. Avoid hesitancy of adoption. If the roadmap were to reveal new features or easier/improved ways of doing things, the community may hold off adoption awaiting the better release thus slowing adoption and growth of community.
Again, I think even with these reasons/excuses, companies should make every effort to publish their platform roadmaps. Your users are vital and likely high spirited about your product offering. Keep them in the loop about your upcoming releases, solicit feedback when possible and give them a chance to tell you what should be fixed/improved/added in your next release.
Do you know of any good platform roadmaps out there?
Ask your platform company of choice why they don’t publish their roadmaps.
As a platform user and evangelist, I want to see more!
For reference, here’s a great example of a platform roadmap: http://source.android.com/roadmap