Why is this topic so relevant for the CRM and MarTech software selection?
Within our software selection consulting we always ask the providers the following questions: What is your roadmap for the next 12 to 18 months? What are already foreseeable highlights? The customer wishes the module or topic XY, when will this feature be released? Is it worth waiting?
Every now and then we get a clear answer to these questions, mostly the answer is rather waxy until “we don’t want to say, that’s secret”.
On the side of the consultant, but above all on the side of the customer, there is the desire to have clarity. The decision for a CRM or MarTech software is a commitment for years. A later divorce is usually really expensive. And therefore the knowledge about the general development joyfulness as well as speed is important. Especially if the user decision cannot be made 100% sure, e.g. if important requirements of the customer on the supplier side have not yet been implemented.
Which providers publicly present their roadmap?
“Let’s go!” we thought and researched for a quarter of an hour. Who shows their roadmap publicly? The result was rather sobering. Few providers were to be found, and the information was usually very scarce.
Let’s start with the positive example
Chimpify, offers – according to its own statements – a “complete solution for inbound marketing”. The Chimpify bosses are very transparent with the roadmap. On Trello, a frequently used collaboration tool, everyone can read what is currently in the status Brainstorming, Idea, Next Up or In Progress.
Of course users are encouraged to come up with ideas. You will receive a first feedback on this quickly.
Interim conclusion: Very praiseworthy.
What we haven’t checked yet is the speed at which the Trello boards move from status to status to implementation. But that is not our topic today.
Second positive example: Microsoft runs a CRM software blog. In this blog, Microsoft partners can write posts and one of these posts shows the development of Dynamics CRM. More out of the past than what will be in the future. Ok, exciting to look back at the development steps. But our goal was a different one.
On our own Microsoft site there is a subpage that offers quite a lot. After several clicks, the interested person lands on the English-language roadmap, which shows e.g. 13 features for sales, 8 features for marketing and 4 features for service etc. Praiseworthy is the description, for whom and until when the respective feature is available, which business value it has from Microsoft’s point of view and which details are solved in the feature.
Interim conclusion: Very good and very detailed
Who else offers insights “behind the scenes”?
As described above, the aim was to research with just a few clicks and come across interesting results. Even by entering the manufacturer or the product name we found within a search of about 15 minutes only from Salesforce some relevant information. This information was rather sparse compared to the examples above.
We found a somewhat outdated overview of the Lightning experience in Salesforce. This is a list of features based on a very short description and by far not as detailed as Microsoft. In addition, the searcher sees a time indicator when this feature will be released or available in the product.
Interim conclusion: Not particularly illuminating. But if you ask directly you will get a good information.
Can an interested party, an analyst, a consultant do anything with this information?
So roadmap information is kept a secret. What could be the reason for this? For one thing, a small provider must first have a roadmap. Big companies like Microsoft and Salesforce drive the market and are driven by their big customers. Their own development speed leaves these vendors the space to give clarity about the approximate dates. Much can already be foreseen today with a lead time of 6-9 months.
Smaller companies such as Chimpify, which have their own roadmap, nevertheless seldom want to be seen in the cards. Very often these companies do not develop the product further from their own roadmap. The driver is “if a customer wants the feature and pays for it”. Then the supplier is willing to develop because he does not have to take any risks. And he can also make this innovation available to others.
Therefore, many smaller CRM and MarTech providers survey their customers once or twice a year and try to bundle their feedback. The roadmap then emerges from this.
One or the other provider gets additional features developed by its partners. Although this accelerates the entire product development process, it is not a strategic control, but rather classically customer-driven.
So let him who binds himself eternally see if he can find something better. The question of a roadmap is therefore reluctantly answered and certainly not published. Nevertheless, the question is important for the user decision-maker. Because the answers show a) how the provider deals with this information (keywords are planning and transparency), b) which developments the customer can look forward to or c) whether the potential customer should rather choose another provider because otherwise he has to wait too long for an important feature or pays dearly for the desired development.
A tip at the end:
If you already contribute to the development costs, then get exclusive time protection (e.g. 1 year). Or agree on a refund in case of further licensing of the mode you helped develop to other companies. Because you have invested know-how, brains, time and money and thus made the supplier fit. As soon as the development with you is completed, the provider markets this module and “schwups” your competition profits from it. That cannot be your interest.
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Image: 1A Relations
Note: This is a machine translation. It is neither 100% complete nor 100% correct. We can therefore not guarantee the result.