A product roadmap is a strategic planning document that helps product managers plan for the future. It can help product teams make better decisions about what to make, how long it will take, and when to launch. This blog post provides an overview of product roadmaps including benefits of product road mapping, tips for creating your own product roadmap, and more!
What is a product roadmap?
Product roadmap is a strategic plan for product management. It helps product managers and product owners to prioritize features, set release dates, and make sure that the product meets business objectives. If you want to better understand this, then we recommend you read our article What Is A Product Roadmap & Why Do You Need One?
What is a product roadmap in agile?
In product management, agile is a more flexible way of managing product development. Here, the product manager creates what’s called an “agile product roadmap” to show product backlog items and their priority.
What is the point of a roadmap?
Roadmaps help product managers plan for the future. They articulate how you will get there and help product teams make further decisions about what to build, how long it will get, and when to launch.
What is a product roadmap template?
A product roadmap template helps product managers create a product strategy and plan for the future. You can use it to set product development priorities, track progress, and communicate product plans.
Who are roadmaps for?
Roadmaps are for product managers and product owners. They help product teams prioritize features, set release dates, and ensure that the product meets business objectives.
Also, they are for product marketing managers and strategists, executives, product development teams. This is because product roadmaps help product teams to focus on the product and product development process.
Why are product roadmaps important?
Roadmaps help product teams and product managers visualize how the product will grow over time. They communicate product development priorities, set expectations for stakeholders, and ensure product alignment with the company’s business goals.
Thus, product roadmaps are important for product teams to ensure that they have the right product in the market at the right time.
This not only helps the product team fulfill the tasks, but also the business itself. To explain, product roadmaps make product teams align with business objectives, which is important for product marketing managers and strategists.
Having a well-planned product strategy to follow is important for your business as they help you define potential challenges. By that, you can early prevent product problems and take a product development approach that ensures you meet your business goals. Also, this help with saving time and money on product development.
The benefits of product roadmaps
A product road mapping process can help product manager and a business in many ways.
- Product roadmap provides a shared understanding of what users can expect in upcoming releases and which features will be available.
- Product roadmaps ensure that product strategy and goals align with organizational goals.
- Also, product roadmaps can help product teams manage customer feedback and market research to ensure product development aligns with the needs of users.
- Another benefit of product roadmaps is that it helps the product team stay focused and deliver on time. Product teams can use product roadmap to identify which product features to work on first and which product features can wait.
- Product roadmaps help product teams prioritize product backlogs, manage dependencies between product teams, product releases, and product features.
- A product roadmap provides a clear timeline for product release, which helps to build trust between teams and stakeholders.
These are just a few benefits product roadmaps can offer to product teams.
When do you need a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a strategic plan that defines the product’s vision, release goals, features, and functionality. It helps product managers to communicate product strategy and plan product releases across the organization.
If any of these phrases describe your situation, create a product roadmap.
What can you use product roadmaps for?
You can use product roadmaps for product planning, product management, product marketing and product development.
For example, product managers use product roadmap to set product development priorities and to track product progress.
Also, product marketers use product roadmap to define the product’s timeline for future releases, product positioning, and product features.
Besides that, product development teams use product roadmap to understand product requirements and how the product fits into its product portfolio.
The different types of product roadmaps
There are different product roadmaps that product teams can use depending on company size, product type and product life cycle.
However, there are 4 product roadmap types that product teams can use:
Internal product roadmap for executives
These roadmaps illustrate how teams’ efforts contribute to high-level corporate objectives and metrics. You can organize these sections by month or quarter to provide a sense of how far you’ve come towards your objectives. Also, these contain less information.
Internal product roadmap for developers and engineers
You can create these in many ways. This depends on your team’s preferable working environment. The document may contain the following information: the prioritized client value to be delivered, the target release timeline, and milestones. Because many development teams prefer agile processes, you could organize these maps into sprints and include items of work and problem areas mapped on a timeline.
Internal roadmap for sales
These roadmaps are ideal to help salespeople carry out their tasks by concentrating on new features and consumer advantages. Another thing to remember: avoid including hard dates in sales roadmaps to avoid tying internal teams to potentially aggressive deadlines.
External roadmap for customers and prospects
These maps are for your prospects and customers. Your customers should feel enthusiasm about the future when looking at your roadmaps. Ensure they’re attractive and simple to read, both visually and textually. You should show customers a high-level, general overview of new features and problem areas to pique their interest in the product’s future and usability.
Examples of product roadmaps
Here are product roadmap examples for you to take inspiration.
Timeline product roadmaps
The time-based product roadmaps are a helpful tool for comprehending how a product has developed over time. Typically, time-based product roadmaps arrange activities into categories according to timelines, milestones, and deadlines.
Progress-based product roadmaps
A product roadmap that is progress-based breaks things down into lanes (usually columns or rows) according to how far along you are in accomplishing each task.
In agile development, people frequently prefer progress-based roadmaps because deadlines, timelines, and calendars do not restrict them.
They give employees more freedom, since you can track tasks based on progress rather than strict timelines.
Mixed product roadmaps
Some businesses will choose a roadmap that incorporates elements from both progress-based and timeline product roadmaps.
They may, for example, use lines and fields in a progress-based roadmap to separate activities into categories such as “coming soon,” “in progress,” and “next up”.
The Principles of Creating a Product Roadmap
To create product roadmap and achieve success with it, follow these principles:
1. Knowing what not to include in product roadmap
It’s important to not include everything in a product roadmap. Focus on the things that are most relevant for your customers. It is also important to maintain product roadmap simplicity.
For instance, avoid including product features that are not yet confirmed and may change.
2. Hold the ability to improvise
One product manager’s opinions may differ from another product professional. So your product roadmaps and you as well should have the ability to adapt in case your product strategy and roadmap vision need to be changed.
3. Levels of effort
If you want product roadmap to be effective, it has to have different levels of effort. It can help product managers get a better product understanding and product managers to be more efficient in their work. It is also important that you base levels of effort on the product roadmap progress, marketing strategy, the product development process, and product management.
4. The categorization of features
As product roadmaps are about product features, it is important to categorize them. Categorization of product roadmap items helps product managers create a product plan and product development process. This also helps product managers be more efficient in their work.
8 must have elements of a product roadmap template
The following are the main parts of a product roadmap template that every map should have.
Product vision: This shows the big picture of your end product: a detailed description of the project’s objective or purpose.
Strategy: This describes how the product will help your company’s goals and how you will fulfill the vision.
Goals: The goal is a statement that offers a direction to the result, which you can measure by a specific number. Therefore, you should link the objectives to the company’s stated goals.
Requirements: You can determine these by your consumers preferences and details how they feel about your goods, issues they are having, and what they want. Also, these allow you to prioritize which features are most essential.
Timeline: A timeline should ha dates and time periods to accomplish specific objectives. Note that timelines should be an estimate, not a precise representation, in most cases.
Team responsibilities & roles: This ensures that every team member knows what to do and what you require them to accomplish.
Status Markers: You can use these during the project to show when things are happening. They allow you to monitor how far along you are in producing what you need, and how it affects your timeline.
How to plan what goes in the roadmap?
There are 5 main things to consider and plan them for your strategy. This way, you will know what goes into your plan and what doesn’t.
1. Generate the goal for a specific period.
You can accomplish that by asking product marketers and product managers what they want to achieve with your product.
For instance, increase product sales with a certain product, or improve the product’s usability.
Include all of this data in your product roadmap.
2. Identify the problems that you can solve
You can do that by asking the product team what they think are product issues and problems that need to be solved in order for the product to be a success.
Include those product issues and problems in your product roadmap as well. This will help you prioritize what is more important and what your team needs to accomplish first.
3. Align with your internal teams and stakeholders
You should align your product roadmap with the marketing strategy, product development process, production management, and product team.
So you need to talk about your product strategy with product marketers, product managers and product team members.
When you are sure everyone is on board with your product roadmap plan, it’s time to change the product roadmap.
Once you have your product strategy, goals and product issues identified, it is time to prioritize what goes in your product roadmap.
4. Define metrics of success and KPIs for the initiatives in the product roadmap
In a product roadmap, you need to measure your product performance and product metrics.
It is important to set goals and objectives for each product initiative and product feature.
You can do that by asking product managers and product marketers what they would like to see happen with the product in terms of product metrics.
5. How to prioritize the product roadmap?
The product roadmap is a map of your product, detailing what you want to build and the plan for how you will deliver it.
You should prioritize your product roadmap based on the product strategy and product issues.
So you need to prioritize your product features for each product initiative.
It is important to consider product metrics in your product roadmap. So you need to prioritize based on product performance and product initiatives which have the biggest product impact.
In product roadmap planning, it is important to consider product strategy and product issues, as well as product metrics, in order to prioritize your product roadmap.
Also, you should align the product roadmap with the product development process, marketing strategy, product management and product team as well.
How to create a product roadmap?
There are many product roadmap templates that you can use when creating a product roadmap. But you can always create your own.
When creating one, it is important to ensure you have considered the following.
1. Define the project’s goals.
A product roadmap is a way to keep your product development efforts on track and ensure that you are delivering the product right. Therefore, it is important to define product goals. You can do this by using the SMART approach:
- Specific: What problem are you solving?
- Measurable: How will you know if the product is a success?
- Achievable: What steps do you need to take in order for it to be achieved?
- Realistic: What does success look like, given the product’s constraints and your team’s capacity?
- Time-related: When will your team achieve and complete the project and goals?
2. Keep your roadmap clear and concise.
A product roadmap must be clear and concise. It should not contain too much information to make it unnecessarily complex, but enough for your product manager and product team to understand.
When creating a product roadmap, it is important that each product milestone has a rational purpose and goal. Keep the following in mind:
- The product’s primary goal should be clear.
- Each product milestone must have a purpose and its goal can then follow.
- Each product milestone must be achievable and realistic.
- Make sure you consider all product milestones, no matter how small they might seem.
- Consider product dependencies, as it is important to ensure that product milestones are not dependent on other products.
3. Map user stories.
Creating product roadmaps should always have a user-centric approach. Include product features that will solve problems for your users and give them an improved experience.
Creating product roadmaps with user stories is a great way to ensure that you are considering product features from the perspective of your users. Each product feature should have a product goal and its own product story. You can then share these stories throughout the product team to ensure that everyone is on track with product development.
Including product features that users have requested is a great way to keep them engaged and help you understand what they need from your product.
4. Determine product features and priorities.
Each product milestone should have its own product features. As you map out each product feature, it is important to determine which ones are critical and need to be prioritized.
You can do this by determining product features that will give you the biggest impact on your product and its users.
5. Categorize tasks.
When creating product roadmaps, it is important to keep in mind the tasks that need to be completed for each product milestone.
You can do this by creating product roadmap categories. These should include tasks such as product development, product analysis and marketing.
For example, you can include product development tasks, such as product research, product design, and product testing.
This will serve as a guide for all the product team members to follow and ensure that product development runs smoothly.
6. Create a visionary board.
When creating product roadmaps, it is significant to have a product vision. This will help you manage your product development efforts focused and ensure that they are moving in the right direction.
You can do this by creating product vision boards that are visual tools to help you communicate product visions and strategies with product stakeholders. There are different product vision boards that you can use, depending on your product development process and type of product you work with.
The product vision board should include product features and product milestones, as well as their strategies.
7. Review your product roadmap.
It is important to review product roadmaps regularly.
You can do this by setting up product roadmap reviews with your product stakeholders, product team, and product manager.
This will help you keep your product development efforts on track, especially if product milestones deviate from the original product vision. That’s where a product development engineer would be useful. Do you want to learn more about what one does? Then, we recommend you read our article Product Development Engineer: Why Do You Need One?
When you review product roadmaps regularly, you will identify any product changes that need to take place and plan product development accordingly.
By using the product roadmap, you will create product roadmaps that are effective and keep your product team on track.
Presenting the product roadmap
The goal of the product roadmap presentation is to get everyone on the same page regarding the set of goals you and your teams have established. But it’s more important than that. The product presentation is where you’ll show to your stakeholders that you have the product management skills necessary to spot the product opportunities that will make your business achieve its goals.
When you know the many types of priorities (at the corporate, strategic, and technological levels), you may reposition the data and tailor your plan’s presentation to each one of your audiences.
Products managers usually give product presentations to product teams. They’ll use the product roadmap as a reference point while explaining their vision, research findings, and product strategies.
How to communicate your roadmap?
Engineering departments must be able to quantify the worth of their efforts. Developers will resist features or solutions that appear complicated to scale or inefficient. You must be able to explain the product’s value in terms of its own features and milestones: business benefit, customer value, product improvement. Keep your deadlines realistic while maintaining a balance between your sense of urgency and their restricted resources.
What to show them?
While other aspects of the product roadmap are important, here you must focus on topics that appeal to developers, such as usability, scalability, quality, infrastructure, performance, and features.
Marketing and sales teams.
Product managers share the product roadmap with marketing and sales people to help them develop their product messages, pricing strategies, and product campaigns.
How to communicate your roadmap?
Focus on the schedule. What is the due date for each output? What might they offer potential and current customers right now? Show how the road map will help you reduce churn and boost conversion. Discuss how your product strategy allows you to meet the demands of major clients and how it creates possibilities for big deals.
What to show them?
Provide them with a clear timeline that they may share with prospects and users.
If product managers work in a large company, they may present the product roadmap to senior management and board members. They’ll use it to show product progress, product opportunities and product risks.
How to communicate your roadmap?
The company’s CEO is frequently quite hands-on with all aspects of the business, particularly the product plan. CEOs prefer to think high level and across departments. So ensure that you link each project to customer value and corporate objectives.
What to show them?
The executive team will want to know what features you’re adding. But essentially, they’ll want to understand how the plans will help the product get success. Internal efficiency is another topic that comes under discussion. So, show them the potential risks as well.
Customer support or user experience professionals
Product managers may present the product roadmap to product support and user experience teams. This will allow them to plan their product training, product requirements gathering, and product testing activities.
How to communicate your roadmap?
The product support and user experience teams may need the product roadmap as a reference for product training, requirements gathering, and product release schedules. So, they should know all these that affect their work.
What to show them?
Since this group of people wants the product roadmap to help with product support, ensure that you communicate all the product features well to support teams.
Your product roadmap product presentation should include your product vision, product teams’ activities and progress, product opportunities that you’re exploring, any risks or challenges to the product plan, product strategies that you’re pursuing and product milestones.
You can also use the product presentation to talk about your product’s market positioning and product goals.
Your presentation should be specific enough that everyone understands what you’re trying to achieve with the product and how you’re going to do it.
12 Best practices for the best roadmaps
Here are product management and product development best practices to consider when creating a product roadmap or strategy:
- Include your team in product strategy meetings.
- Only include as much detail as necessary in your maps.
- Define product requirements from a user’s perspective, not just from a product manager’s point of view.
- Keep your product roadmap simple by including just the next three to six months of work.
- Also, keep your plan balanced between short- and long-term objectives, with specific mentions of how each relates to the other.
- Ensure product managers understand the product vision, product strategy, and product market.
- Keep your roadmap focused on achieving business goals.
- Also, map out a clear product strategy before you create your product roadmap.
- Prioritize product features by product value, cost, and risk.
- Break down large projects into smaller product features.
- Track roadmaps regularly and make adjustments when necessary.
- Maintain communication with stakeholders at all levels to ensure coordination.
Now you know what a product roadmap is, the essential elements you need and how to create one. You also know the best practices to consider when setting up a product roadmap or system. Following these, staying open to changes and being able to adopt the new reality will help you create the best product roadmap for your company’s success. These will help you deliver a product that not only sells but brings business growth.