7 Roadmap Items To Consider Keeping In House
Learn Which Development Items Are Better Kept In-House
Outsourcing can offer huge benefits, but when outside teams are not strategically employed across your roadmap you risk more trouble than you started with. The goal of any decision along the roadmap should be to accelerate your development, not create more roadblocks.
While there are best practices, every product and team is unique. As a manager, you need to consider what’s best for your team and what will get your product to market on time and on budget.
We’ve talked about the roadmap items you should consider outsourcing, but what about the items you should consider keeping in-house?
1 | Roadmap Items You Want Done Cheap
Yes, outsourcing can help lower costs. Training and hires gets expensive quickly but, if your sole purpose is to get a task done for cheap, you should reconsider your outsourcing strategy.
Have you heard the saying “you get what you pay for?”
Looking for the cheapest vendor to build your front-end, configure your database, or design your user experience will lead to a disappointing outcome.
When deciding which items to outsource, think about WHY you are outsourcing it. Do you want to save your team time so they can focus on high priority tasks? Do you need an expert to ensure you are correctly implementing machine learning into your product? Do you want to make sure your tech is wrapped in an easy-to-use interface?
If your answer is you want to save money, turn around, do not pass go, do not collect your savings. It’s not worth risking the long-term quality of your product for a couple bucks. You’ll end up spending more to correct your decision.
2 | Roadmap Items That Are Core to Your Business
These items should be owned by your development team, even if it's a small team. These often require skills that you’ll need to maintain and improve your product in the long-run.
An outside team could certainly develop these items successfully, but what happens when it’s time to hand over the product and your in-house team doesn’t have the skills to maintain the feature?
For example, if a company offers an advanced machine learning platform, it’s development team better have key competencies in machine learning.
For roadmap items not core to the product, like DevOps, APIs, or UX/UI, it's not vital that the internal team have expertise in that area. The external team can hand-off the finished item with some cross-training and can be consulted in the future if needed. On the other hand, the internal team should have a fundamental understanding of core features that they deal with on a daily basis.
3 | Roadmap Items with Poor Specifications
Planning is key. If you onboard an outside team into a project with poorly defined specifications, the project could cost you undesired time and money. Poor specifications can lead to multiple costly and needless iterations. It also leads to emotional strain between the internal and external teams.
Before bringing in outside help make sure you have solid and clear game plan. Reassess your product specifications, clarify any confusion, and map out the details. Or consider getting outside help on the requirements and specs themselves first. It’s much easier for both teams to adjust and adapt when there is a clear path.
4 | Roadmap Items Requiring Deep Historical Knowledge of Internal Product History or Previous Decisions
On-boarding external teams onto these types of items will take a long time because they’ll need to learn an extensive background. The purpose of outsourcing is to save time. If your internal team is spending all their time on-boarding the external team, you’re defeating the purpose of acceleration.
It’s more productive to assign your internal team to these legacy systems while deploying the external team to items that are require unfamiliar technologies or skills.
5 | Roadmap Items That Are Core to Your Intellectual Property
Items or skills that are a part of your intellectual property are better kept in house. These are original technologies or methods that your team needs to know inside and out because they are the foundation of your company’s value proposition.
It’s also important to protect your intellectual property and eliminate any grey areas that could cause trouble down the road.
6 | Roadmap Items that Require Skills Your Team Will Need in The Near Future
Sensing a theme? Strong competencies that support your core business are essential to long term success of your product. If items in your roadmap are not a part of your core competencies now but will be in the future, consider allocating dollars towards training or growing these skills in-house.
Outsourcing can be a short-term solution to develop a feature and provide some cross-training but, ultimately you should have someone in-house who is responsible for the feature. It’s best to prepare this person way before you need them. They can work with the development team to plan the new feature, build it, and then ultimately maintain it.
7 | Roadmap Items That Don’t Align With Your Product Plan
Executives always want to see the latest and greatest trend in the new version of their product. You’re frustrated because you know the feature is out of line with the current plan and you don’t want to waste your team’s valuable time. But you have to find a way to make it work. Why not outsource it?
Casting away ad hoc items to outside teams will waste your time and budget. You won’t give the same priority to the add-ons which will cause tension between your teams. The external team won’t receive the support or clear specifications it needs to successfully implement the feature. There will be confusion about how the feature technically fits in the product.
All items on the roadmap should align from the start. It’s not worth it to risk your team’s success just to add in a one-off feature that doesn’t contribute your product plan.
Bringing in outside help can be a great decision, and an essential one to meeting your growth and speed goals, but it can also harm your team and product if done incorrectly. When you plan out your next product roadmap, carefully consider which roadmap items are ideal for your team to outsource and which items are better kept in-house. This simple exercise can allow you and your team to profit from all the benefits outsourcing can offer.
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