Building a product roadmap can be difficult for many reasons. There are so many types of roadmaps, and it’s easy to get lost in the details. We’ve created this ultimate guide on how to build a product roadmap that will help you create an effective one faster. It includes everything from how to identify your business goals, what type of product roadmap best suits your needs, and more!
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is how you communicate your business goals in terms of what needs to be built and when. This document should include how your team will create each item, how long it will take your team to build, how much it’s going to cost you, and how each item ties back into the overall business goals.
Why is roadmapping important for a business?
Roadmapping is how you communicate your product strategy to everyone, both internally and externally. This should be how the entire company knows what’s happening with the product. Your sales team, support reps and anyone else that interacts with your customers should know how things are moving forward.
Each product is unique, and every business has their own unique needs. However, here are a few reasons roadmapping is important to have in your business.
- It helps prioritize the right things for your business.
- You don’t have to make a lot of changes later on because you’ve already thought about how that will affect your product.
- It helps everyone from sales, marketing, engineering and management stay on the same page.
- Your team takes a more strategic approach to how they build the product.
- Your company is more focused on how you deliver value, rather than just features of your product.
The different types of product roadmaps
There are three main types of roadmaps that you can use when building your product. It’s important to understand how they work and how each one can help you.
Strategic product roadmap
A strategic roadmap is how your product plans to meet the business goals the company has already set for it. This roadmap should be how you communicate how your product fits into the market and how it will address customer needs. It helps you sell your product internally to management, marketing and the rest of your team.
The product roadmap is about how you communicate what will come up with all its features and how they will benefit your customers. This is how you communicate how the product fits into the market and how it addresses customer needs.
Release product roadmap
A release roadmap is how you communicate your product’s release schedule. This road map shows how you will break all the planned features up into different releases, how long each one will take, how much it’s going to cost you and what you need to do before the next release.
A lot of companies use a release roadmap to show how features are going to be rolled out. They usually include the above.
A product backlog is not an actual roadmap. Instead, it can be a part of it. It is how you plan all the individual tasks that will need to be completed in order to build the product. This is how you plan how much it’s going to cost, how long each task will take and how much it will benefit your business.
Your engineering team should be constantly updating this as they break down how they build the product into smaller chunks of work.
Do you want to discover what a product roadmap is and what purpose it fulfills? Then, we recommend you read our article What Is A Product Roadmap & Why Do You Need One?
What type of product roadmap best suits your needs?
It really depends on how your business works and how big it is. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help determine what type of roadmap you should use.
- How many people need to know how they will build the product and how they will continue to develop it in the future?
- Do you have a team that handles how the product is built and how it gets released?
- How many people do you need to communicate with on how you build the product and how you will develop it in the future?
What type of roadmap your business needs most often depends on how many people need to know how to build the product and how it will continue to be developed in the future. It also depends on how many people your engineering team needs to communicate with on building the product and how they will develop it in the future.
What are the elements of a product roadmap?
There are a few distinct elements that you should have on your product roadmap. They include how the product is going to reach its business goals, how it’s going to address your customers’ needs, how your company will build it, and how you plan to sell the product.
It is important that you communicate these elements in how they fit together. The product’s vision, business goals and how you build it should all be visible to everyone on your team and how they fit together.
How to prepare before you build a product roadmap?
There are several things that you should consider before you build a product roadmap.
Define why your product exists
You should ask yourself how your product will solve a problem for your customers. You also need to know how it fits into the market and how it’s going to help your business.
Define how to build the product
You should have a good idea of how you want to build the product. You should also know how much it’s going to cost and how long it will take for your team to build all of its features.
Identify who’s going to use your product roadmap
Once you define how to build the product, how much it’s going to cost, and how much time it will take, you need to identify who needs to use this roadmap.
This includes your sales, marketing, engineering, product and design teams. You also need to identify how they are going be using your roadmap.
Determine the primary goals of the product roadmap
You should have a perfect idea of how your product roadmap is going to be used and how it will fit into the bigger picture. You can’t build a roadmap for the sake of building one.
It needs to have its own goals that are going help you achieve your business goals. You also need to know how the product is going to help your business.
Be ready for changes
You should be aware your product roadmap will need to change. This is how you continue to develop better products for your customers and products that can help your business. So, once there is a need for changes, you need to be ready and know how to communicate those changes.
When you have a better idea of how it’s all going to fit together, how you will define how to build it, how you will use the product roadmap, and what its major goals are, you can start building your own.
How to build a product roadmap?
There are several ways you can build a product roadmap. Here is how to do it easily. This way, you will allow everyone on your team to understand how it fits into the bigger picture.
Identify how the product fits into your business
You should know how it’s going to help your business and how you and your customers will use it. You should also know how it fits into the market. These will help you make the right decisions when you build your product roadmap.
Define the strategy
First, you need to determine how it will meet the needs of your customers and how it fits in with what is already out there. This will help you develop a product that is unique and solves problems.
Set the vision, goals, and initiatives for your product, considering the organization’s goals. A strong product vision captures all the information that a team must comprehend in order to create and preserve a competitive edge. You should include what your customers want, who they are, and how you’ll go to market with your offering in your lean marketing and product strategy.
You need to have your business goals in mind as well. Then you need to know how much it will cost you and how long it will be needed for your engineering team to build all of its features.
Review and manage ideas
You should have a list of ideas that your team has about how they will build the product. You need to review these and determine how they will fit into your product roadmap.
This will allow you to prioritize how to build the product and how it’s going fit into your roadmap.
Define features and requirements
Your development team must determine how they will build the product, but you get a say in your roadmap. So, you need to find the requirements and features you need your product to have so that it supports your overall business strategy. That said, you need to build tasks and thorough requirements for your engineering teams to use as a framework.
This way, you will get the best outcome possible. But you need to let your teams to work on their own and discuss features that your product also needs. Do you want to learn more about the product development process your team might follow? Then, we recommend you read our article Product Development Process: Create Successful Products.
Organize into milestones & timelines
You’re now ready to categorize those requirements and features into tasks. If you have an agile team, then you may organize huge work campaigns in epics. You can also schedule milestones after you’ve completed all of your preparations. You can also categorize your milestones and timelines according to your development capacity or a particular launch.
Choose a view
You may customize the structure of each product roadmap to include the specific information and degree of detail you desire. You shouldn’t let everyone see all the milestones and tasks in your product roadmap. This is best not only for your business private tasks but also for the best work of your teams. The more specific tasks someone has to handle and think about, the best he handles the work.
Thus, take into count the following questions:
- What is the goal of this product roadmap?
- Who will benefit from seeing each task on your product roadmap?
- What information should you show on this map?
- What is the timeline for your project and each task?
How do you structure a product roadmap?
When you have almost ready your product roadmap, think about how you want to present it. You’ll need a product roadmap template for this.
You can use any software or a pen and paper to draw out how your product roadmap will look.
For a simpler presentation, you may just want to include how your product is categorized and how each task connects with specific dates. Of course, all these are better to only represent the tasks you need to build, market, or improve your product.
For more complex presentations, you can include how you break the product down by features, how they interact with each other, and how these features fit into your overall strategy. And all these will be separate tasks on your product roadmap.
Also, if this is the case, connect each task with the one that it depends on it. You might also use specific timelines for each one.
How to build a product roadmap: Final Thoughts
Building a product roadmap is essential to any business wanting to succeed. It will help you move your company forward without losing focus on how the development team is building your product. Consider how much time and money you will need to build each feature on the roadmap, so you can manage budget allocations and how long this will take.
Make sure you have a plan for how your product will improve the business and how it fits into your overall strategy. You should also know how it will affect the customer and how they interact with your product.
When you have all this in mind, building a product roadmap will be easier and it can help you build a great product. Following the guide above will help you achieve this ever easier.