Improve Your Roadmap Priorities by splitting into 3 buckets.

Improve Your Roadmap Priorities by splitting into 3 buckets.

Co-founder & CTO

‍Streamlining SaaS Roadmaps: A Three-Bucket Strategy for Enhanced Impact‍

Got $10M to play with? Choose wisely: high-risk, high-return; low-risk, sure gains; or a mixed-risk cocktail. How would you spread the bets?


In Software as a Service (SaaS), it is crucial for management to prioritise roadmap initiatives to maximise returns. Our analysis of over 100 SaaS roadmaps, coupled with our consultancy experience, has led us to a straight forward approach: segment roadmaps into three investment buckets.

The Triple-Bucket Approach and Its Benefits

Adopting this method promises several advantages:

Improved Net Promoter Scores (NPS): A direct reflection of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Enhanced Priority Discussions: Comparing similar types of initiatives ensures a more meaningful dialogue about priorities.

Reduced Stress over Technical Debt: Leads to more sustainable development practices.

Faster Validation Cycles for Sales: Aligning feature requests with customer needs accelerates product evolution.

ROI-Driven Conversations: Each bucket's focus on returns fosters a more profitable roadmap.

The Three Buckets

1. Vision Initiatives

These are forward-looking projects initiated based on belief in their future value. They range from features to meet RFP requirements, to innovations driven by market trends or competition. Vision initiatives, though uncertain in terms of investment and return, are crucial for long-term sustainable growth. Senior management, ideally the CEO or an equivalent senior VP, should underwrite these initiatives.

2. Customer Requests

These initiatives stem directly from customer needs and feedback. They include enhancements to resolve support issues or fulfil contractual obligations. With lower uncertainty and clear, near-term returns, they should be prioritised by customer support, customer success teams, and data-driven teams like Business Intelligence or UX. The Chief Product Officer (CPO) or an equivalent should take ownership here.

3. Operations & Maintenance

These are essential tasks for maintaining and scaling the product. This bucket includes mandatory upgrades and often contains ‘technical debt’. The priorities here are best determined by senior and staff engineers, under the supervision of the CTO or an equivalent senior VP.

Coordinating the Three Buckets

While each bucket has its own focus, they must interact harmoniously. An initiative might fit into multiple buckets, and its placement depends on its alignment with the company's strategic goals and ROI expectations. Depending on “the competition in each bucket” an initiative owner needs to focus their business case on investments, returns or customer value. This method ensures a fair and balanced approach to roadmap prioritisation, avoiding the pitfalls of traditional, often arbitrary, methods.

Unified Yet Distinct Roadmaps

Despite the segregation into three buckets, remember that resources are still part of a singular pool. Allocation of budgets, whether monetary or in terms of man-hours, must be managed across all three buckets. This requires setting clear expectations for each project's scope and deliverables.

Why It Works

The three-bucket strategy's power lies in its clarity and focus, dividing initiatives into Vision, Customer Requests, and Operations & Maintenance. This structure allows for sharp decision-making and effective resource allocation. Crucially, it involves collaboration across various teams, making the roadmap a collective responsibility rather than a task for one team. This cross-functional approach ensures that each project is assessed for its specific value and alignment with strategic goals, leading to a more efficient, responsive, and sustainable roadmap.

Product Investment Strategy Workshops

Join our exclusive workshops for product and engineering leaders to delve into ROI-driven product investment strategies. These sessions provide a platform to develop a tailored investment strategy and explore methods for incorporating ROI-focused and cost-aware product management within your organization.

Leveraging ProductHub for Strategic Alignment

At ProductHub, we integrate these buckets using a singular Product Investment Strategy. This strategy aligns the risks and rewards in each bucket with your overarching business goals. Whether aiming for rapid growth or steady progress, our approach tailors the investment balance to your specific objectives.


How ProductHub Is Pioneering the Change

At ProductHub, we're rekindling the skill of discussing cost and impact in product engineering using euros and weeks instead of story points and burn down rates. Steering clear of past pitfalls. Get back the good parts, and leave the bad parts behind.

We're assisting management and product management teams in establishing an ROI-driven product investment strategy; which guides Product Managers and Product Owners in conducting business-focused conversations with their teams and the broader business.

About the Author

Wilco van Duinkerken, a seasoned entrepreneur and leader in software development and big data analysis, co-founded Scale Force and ProductHub. With 2 decades of experience, he has established himself as an expert in transforming conceptual ideas into reality. At trivago, he led software engineering teams in Amsterdam and Düsseldorf, focusing on innovation and product retention. Wilco excels in driving ROI-driven product strategies and operational execution, making significant contributions to the SaaS industry through his expertise in SaaS Due Diligence & Acceleration.


Do you know what the investment of your top roadmap items is, in euros?In the realm of software product engineering, a startling reality prevails: many organizations kick off projects without a predefined budget, leading to a significant blind spot in cost awareness.In periods where all goes well, not talking about costs hides problems with prioritisation, because “all returns will be positive”. In periods of decline, not talking about costs might lead into strategic and financial pitfalls that aren’t evident unt


Product Management


18 jan. 2024

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