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Tomas Rybing on Product Radar

| by Savita Pahuja Follow 2 Followers on Nov 17, 2015. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Tomas Rybing, Director of project management at Aptilo Networks, in his latest blog shared the concept of product radar. He explains the product radar as:

Instead of showing your product roadmap along a timeline, why not use a radar? Things that are close to the center as almost certain that they will become available in your product in the near future. Things that are further away are more distant in time and the likelihood of them being implemented is less, they may not be included at all.

Same radar can be used for company’s internal purpose with more transparency. To increase the transparency, Tomas added arrows in the radar.

The direction of the arrow shows if things are moving ”in to the product” (closer to the center), ”out of scope for the product” (out in the periphery ) or if they are ”not moving” (remain still). The length of the arrow is indicating the speed of the movement.

InfoQ talked to Tomas to discuss more about the product radar.

InfoQ: What is the benefit of using radar for product roadmap?

Tomas: First and foremost it removes the aspect of time completely. To be truly Agile your primary focus should be on value. If you can get the trust from your customers by continuously delivering value to them, time when they get things will become less important. Time is very much present in a regular product roadmap, since the items are placed along a time-line. In the product radar the items are presented relatively to each other. Things with high likelihood to be included in the product are placed close to the center of the product radar. Items that are less likely to become implemented are placed further away, out in the periphery. They may not be included at all.

In a normal product roadmap you may want to include things that you ”keep an eye on, but not working actively with”. They may or may not make it into the product. To indicate that, they are placed far away into the future (stating less likelihood since we can’t predict the future). In the product radar you can include those things out in the periphery to show that you have them ”on the radar”.

Since time is not present in the product radar, customers will not get expectations on when things will become available that may be broken later. Customers can however know relatively when their item of interest will become available. They see that ”first comes item A and B, but then C that I’m looking for will be available”.

InfoQ: When and where we can use product radar?

Tomas: I think the product radar will be great to first use internally at your company. If you want full transparency you can even indicate with an arrow for each item how they are ”moving”. If they are moving closer to the centre (getting higher likelihood of being done) or if they are diminishing away (decreasing likelihood).

If your customers still require that time is indicated, you can use one of the following alternatives:

- Let the circles represent the time. The circle in the middle indicates ”this year”, the outer circle of that ”next year” and so on. 

- Let the circles represent the versions of your product. If you are on V1.0 right now, the circle in the middle indicates V2.0, the outer circle of that V3.0 and so on.

InfoQ: Please share your experience of using product radar.

Tomas: As I state in the original blog post, I have not yet tried out the product radar. However, the feedback I have got after I made the post have all been positive. Persons from the product and project management community have said things like ”interesting idea” and ”nice idea”. Personally I think the idea of the product radar is too good not to be shared!

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Why not just use a list? by Richard Cowin

The radar concept just looks like an attractive visualisation of a prioritised list...

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