Public versus Private Roadmaps, Lessons from Trello


This post is by Giff Constable from giffconstable.com


Should you make some or all of your roadmap public? If yes, then what are some of the considerations? I had to answer this question recently. To hone my thinking, I reached out to Justin Gallagher, who’s been the head of product management for Trello since their earliest days. 

As a general rule, enterprise software companies have typically maintained a version of their roadmap that can be shared with prospects and customers. Consumer companies have tended to be more tight-lipped about where they are going.

Trello is interesting because they have elements of both an enterprise and a consumer company. In the early days, they actually created a public Trello board that shared their full product roadmap. However, something made them pull back.

Justin explained, “At the beginning, we thought it would be useful to be transparent about where we were going and showcase the product at the same time. It worked well and was an especially nice way to connect with our early enthusiasts.”

However, Trello started running into some difficulties with the public roadmap. “Our mistake was that we let people vote. When we shipped something that didn’t match the voting, we were accused of not listening to our customers. This started to cloud our feature launches.” 

During this time, Trello was in growth mode and that meant expanding their customer segments. With the public roadmap, they faced a real challenge: the power users who frequented the roadmap and passionately argued for specific features weren’t the highest-priority design (Read more…)