Product managers, marketing, sales, and other departments in an organization use roadmaps to stay aligned with their goals and plans. An efficient product roadmap helps to prioritize tasks, track progress, and coordinate work across teams.
However, creating a useful product roadmap isn’t an easy task. It takes time, patience, and clear communication to craft an accurate roadmap that will reflect the teams’ priorities and can be easily understood by stakeholders and potential customers.
This article will provide you with all the information about building a product roadmap, so if you were just about to develop one, read it first.
Here’s what you’ll learn.
You’ll also be equipped with tips and tricks for creating the best product roadmap ever. Let’s begin!
A product roadmap is a source of product vision and product plans. It’s an outline of a product's visions, priorities, directions, and progress over time.
In other words, a product roadmap helps teams to focus on the work that matters the most, aligning the organization with short-term and long-term goals. It should show what resources and efforts are required to achieve those goals and visualize the timeline of work.
What goes inside a product roadmap should be aligned with the already defined strategy. They usually include:
Product roadmaps show what you’re building and why you’re building it. It should stay flexible and easily adjust to changes in customer feedback and the market.
Product roadmaps are a representation of your commitment to achieving the set goals. It’s kind of a promise to your team and customers that hold you accountable.
Product roadmaps can also improve sales by helping to prioritize crucial feature releases as well as incorporating client feedback into future products. And they help to:
As mentioned above, different people will look for different things in a product roadmap and use it for their own purposes. Depending on the audience, a product roadmap may slightly change to present information most suitably. There are 5 most common product roadmap types (described below).
Product managers are the owners of product roadmaps. They lead the research, gather ideas and feedback, and deal with translating and prioritizing those into features and a product roadmap itself. They later share it with stakeholders.
Product owners use roadmaps to collaborate with their teams and get an understanding of how the product will develop over time.
Agile teams use it to keep everyone up-to-date and gain information about their day-to-day work as well as its future direction.
Product managers depend on roadmaps to manage the launch of a product, the introduction of new features, or any updates to existing apps.
Outside of product management, teams rely on roadmaps for communication, visualization, and transparency. Let’s look at a few examples.
The process of building a product roadmap starts with a well-thought-out strategy. Begin with establishing the product goals and initiatives, and align them with the strategy depending on the chosen features. Later on, you can visualize it all in a form of a timeline.
When developing a product roadmap, it’s important to keep in mind the target audience as this will influence the type of roadmap you’re going to create.
Your product roadmap will also reflect the development methodology your company follows – an agile roadmap will be more flexible to accommodate possible changes, while a waterfall one will be more fixed, highlighting the long-term commitment to the specific features.
Let’s look at the key elements shared by all types of product roadmaps.
Since you now know what are the crucial elements of a product roadmap, we can swiftly move on to actually creating it. Let’s go through this process step by step.
As we already said, every product roadmap begins with a product strategy. This is the ‘why’ behind the product. It explains how the product will support the overall business goals. It’s also the time to develop a product vision, which will take into consideration who are the main customers, what they need, and how you can help them.
Go through all ideas from customers and customer-facing teams. Organize and prioritize them as they will help you decide what will be included on the roadmap. You can score those ideas based on the metrics that best reflect your strategy.
The goals, initiatives, and ideas you’ve prepared will guide you through the 3rd step – defining the product features. You can use a template or a tool to put those into words. Remember to add all details, and group them into epics. Everything that doesn’t fit into the 1st iteration, goes into the next one, and so on. Here, you can also try to translate the features into user stories to describe the benefits delivered from the customer’s perspective.
Since you have the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your product roadmap, now it’s time to think about the ‘when’. Plan the delivery timeline and organize everything into releases. Those are often organized by product launch but you can also arrange them by development capacity.
Building and maintaining a product roadmap is an ongoing process. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you with that.
The process of developing a product roadmap consists of 5 steps: definition of the product strategy, idea reviews, definition of features and requirements, organizing data into releases, and visualization.
A product roadmap communicates the ‘why’, ‘what’, and ‘when’ of a product you’re building and is closely aligned with the business goals.
It can be utilized by various teams for different purposes, but, at its core, it serves as a plan of action for product development and its growth in the future.