Introducing Xplor’s transparent Product Roadmap.

We keep sharing because we keep learning so much along the way. So many of you participate in discussions and help us make education great. And I get inspired when I hear that our story might have helped you shape yours.

Mark Woodland | Founder and CEO Xplor

We already have an amazing amount of ideas from the community in our Roadmap forum. We’re regularly sharing prototypes. Hosting Open Days. We speak with customers all the time. Why not share our feature roadmap.

As I spoke with various team members around the company—Harry (our Head of Product), Matt (COO), Felicity, and others—I found a common thread.

Our quarterly goal documents are great, but they’re quite scattered around. And with so many teams, it can be a chore to get a high level answer to simple questions like,  ‘What’s the latest?’ or ‘What’s up next?’

We shared a roadmap with our customers and team, and it seems to be really helping us.

Introducing the Xplor transparent product roadmap

So today we wanted to open it up and share it with you as well. Now we can build in the open, with all of you alongside, with the goal of making education great.

You might be asking, ‘Isn’t this sort of risky? Telling everyone—even your competition—what you’re working on?’

Great question! We’re definitely opening ourselves up a bit here. Thing is, we believe this could be better for everyone in the long term, not just Xplor. Let me explain.

Why build in the open?

Building in the open could positively impact:

  • The Xplor team. It encourages us to think more long term and be more deliberate about what we build, hopefully resulting in us building more value for you.
  • The Xplor community. We hope you’ll feel more closely connected to the features we’re building, how they’ll work, what they could do to make your social media life easier and more successful. Also, you’ll be able to tell us if we’re off track!
  • Our competition. Yes, even our competitors could be better off. And that’s a good thing! Maybe they’ll see something we’re working on and fill the need a little differently. Or they’ll be inspired to build a similar feature. For us, this is more than OK. It’s not a zero sum game, after all. There’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to be successful! All in all, we think this could raise the bar for all of us, and challenge Xplor to build the best, most valuable features possible.
  • The education community at large. If by building in the open we all learn together, we hope that some of the challenges facing our community will be addressed just a little more quickly.
  • Our collective audience. Better tools in the hands of educators have the potential to make it great. And in doing so children are better off.
  • The startup and business community. Xplor was once a couple of people working from a childcare centre, and we still have a lot to learn. By sharing our failures and successes, we’d love to play a small part in helping people fulfill their dreams and start a company, or grow an existing company in a more effective way.

A few potential challenges of transparent building

As with many things, we have some challenges on this path too. Here’s a little view into three of those.

Challenge One: Startup projects need freedom

We have three startup projects underway at the moment: Home, Stargate and Demand Driven Occupancy.

They’re all early in their lives, and early in their search for what entrepreneurs call product-market fit.

As we search for their place in the market, sometimes we might need to make bigger changes with less advance warning. That can be tough with a published roadmap.

How will we keep this up-to-date and and helpful, while still giving the teams freedom to find the best path? We’ll be working on that.

Challenge Two: It takes time and effort to share all of this!

Beyond today, who will maintain the transparent roadmap? How frequently will it need to be updated?

And how does the feedback we’ll receive work in tune with your comments on, and all the ideas from our customer happiness conversations? How much time will it take to incorporate those thoughts into product teams and engineering teams?

We don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but I’m keen to embrace a good portion of it in hopes that all the context will help me be the best product leader I can be for Xplor—and for you, the community.

Challenge Three: Communicating with clarity

The roadmap is intentionally very high level, with just a short phrase to describe each potential feature or change.

Is that enough for you to know what it is and whether it’ll be helpful or not? I’m not sure.

Our fantastic design team is eager to add context here by showing their design process, including early prototypes. That sounds like a great addition to me, but I’m not 100% confident we’re sharing enough.

If you’d be up for helping out by providing any feedback or thoughts as we get going here, we’d all really appreciate it.

How the Roadmap Works

If you’re intrigued by all of this and want to be part of how Xplor evolves, thank you. It means so much that you’d take time and energy from your own life and work to share in this story with us.

Here are a few places to get involved:

  1. The Roadmap. Please add your votes and comments for any features that you’re eager to use.
  2. Open Days Want to add your thoughts or suggest another idea in person? This is the place!
  3. Beta groups: We form beta groups around new features from time to time. Typically we’ll invite you to join while inside Xplor. Please take us up on that if you’re keen.

Over to you!

We’re looking forward to you joining us on the journey. Please jump in and let us know what you think as we build in the open.

And by the way, here’s a quick rundown of friends who helped shape our transparent roadmap:

  • Keith shared the idea of making it easier to view who the responsible person/s were when signing into the HUB.
  • Steve helped sort out some design elements.
  • Niel, Dan, Sunil and Joel suggested turning the voting feature on.
  • Dave, Steve, James, Tyler and Lorenz got excited about sharing early designs in the card. More is on the way.
  • Hannah and Amy were some of the first to share the roadmap with customers for feedback.

Thanks.

Mark