How to Write a Product Roadmap
Having a clear view of your goal is always essential. There are multiple steps that one needs to climb to reach the goal. A map or a roadmap is significant in completing any project or attaining your goal. It is a strategy that is represented visually. Product roadmaps are one among the many different types of roadmaps.
They are used widely in organizations and companies and are a useful process in product management. A product roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and direction of your product offering over time.
In this post we’ll cover:
- What is a Product Roadmap?
- Different Types
- Why do we need Product Roadmap?
- Key Features
- Strategic Planning
- Creating successful Product Roadmap
- Roadmapping tools
What is a Product Roadmap?
It is essentially a communication tool providing visual communication within a company. A product roadmap comprises product strategy. It explains the plans of a product manager regarding a product, and how the PM will build a product. It is a living breathing document that helps you keep track of what’s coming next in your product development process.
A product roadmap sketches an entire journey of a product, from the initial days to the product delivery. The industry is so vast, that the companies have different ideas for their products. Hence, there is a need for different types of product roadmaps.
A roadmap is also based on the vision of the business and the product. A product plan should be completed alongside your product leader, whoever that may be, after doing some research on what one is. This will make it possible for you to create a roadmap based on choosing a course that will assist your team in realizing that vision.
The 3 types widely used are:
- Goal-oriented Roadmap: In goal-oriented roadmap, there are specific metrics that a product is trying to achieve at every stage of its development. The roadmaps are based on the goals that are set by the product managers or the development team.
- Theme-based Roadmap: The goals in a product roadmap are categorized into themes in the theme-based product roadmap. This allows a team to focus on the major themes first rather than working on many other different things.
- Feature-based Roadmap: Feature-based roadmaps focus more on the feature output rather than the outcome that the features provide. In many instances, the release dates of the new features can be seen before the specifications of the features are released.
Why do we need a product roadmap?
Creating a product roadmap is pivotal in product management. It helps to manage the expectations of the stakeholders for both the short-term and long-term. A product plan shows the outline of a project to the stakeholders so that they can give feedback accordingly.
A good roadmap should be simple yet detailed enough to help people understand where they are going toward their goals as well as provide them with an easy way to update themselves on progress made towards those goals throughout every stage in development.
Product roadmaps organize and communicate a lot of information:
- What your development team is building, the problem the product will fix, as well as the business goals your product aspires to achieve. This means that your road map has the opportunity to speak directly to external or internal concerns and paint a clear picture of your intentions.
- To your development team, your roadmap demonstrates progress and fosters inspiration.
- To external customers, a product roadmap shows that you value their input and care about their needs. By sharing a roadmap externally, you signal that their awareness is a crucial part of your product’s success, which increases the likelihood of purchase. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to engage with customers and emphasize your brand story.
Apart from this, the main elements of a product roadmap in product management are:
- Product Vision: It defines the capability of a product.
- Strategy: Product strategy includes creating a product strategy framework that showcases the team’s efforts.
- Requirements: This is what the customers expect from the product. It includes their need for specific features or the type of customer service they require.
- Product Plan: A product plan is a layout of how the product development team is planning to develop a product according to the needs of the stakeholders and the customers.
As an essential part of strategic planning, you would need to visually communicate the ambitions and key milestones. That’s where roadmaps come in handy. They help the stakeholders understand the goals, targets, allocated resources, and expected deliverables, all plotted out on a timeline. The plan gives an overview of the tactical details while the roadmap outlines the big picture, i.e., the most important components and milestones. As far as showcasing your roadmap to the management is concerned, it should be advisable to keep them posted at every stage of your development, right from the point when you start building the roadmap.
Here are a few key points to building an effective product roadmap:
- Present a visual Product Roadmap
- Create a Flexible roadmap (if possible, create a collaborative product roadmap with your team)
- Have different versions of your product roadmap.
- Share your product roadmap with your stakeholders
- Involve your stakeholder community at regular intervals
- Spend at least 15 minutes with your product roadmap, first thing in the morning
Maintaining flexibility in your timeline and deliverables will enable your team to react calmly to roadblocks, and to adapt your plan to fit changing needs. However, keep in mind that a product roadmap should have a single owner – this individual is the only person with the authority to add and remove items.
Creating Successful Product Roadmap
To create a roadmap, you need to,
- Research and build context: This includes conducting elaborate research regarding a product and creating a product strategy while building context.
- Define the goals in product development
- Set a timeframe: This encourages time management in a project.
- Organize the product features and priorities
- Categorization of tasks: This is one of the final steps in creating a product roadmap. It includes categorizing larger projects into a few smaller projects.
- Visionary board creation: When a roadmap is created, it is organized into a visionary board and made accessible to the stakeholders so everyone can track product development.
- Reviewing the product roadmap: The last step is to check the roadmap after it is formed. This will allow us to identify mistakes, if any, and rectify them.
Few people in different organizations have different ways. A straightforward table is created with the columns now, later, and next. Then, depending on talks and research, they add rows per what they have previously established as the essential features or aims.
This matrix represents your theory or educated hunch regarding the route. To validate it, consult with as many diverse stakeholders as you can.
Work with your engineers to determine how long it will take to deliver the “now” column. Will it take one month? three months? your planned increment is that (PI). To complete this properly, you could require one or more focused days.
Now that your roadmap is publicly available, everyone may examine it and suggest improvements.
Bottom line: collaboration is more important than the item when trying to solve a problem.
Product roadmap tools are a great way to organize your roadmap. They help you align your team around the product vision, share it with others and track progress.
Some of the popular roadmapping tools in 2022 are,
Roadmapping tools are collaborative that have built-in communication features. Some of these tools are paid while others can be used free of cost. There are many features including template-based options, and customer feedback options, among many others.
All in all, the roadmap should be updated often so that it always reflects the latest data available on your customer journey. For example, if new features are coming in the months ahead that can be added to improve engagement with customers (like location tracking), then these should be added into plans now so they don’t get forgotten about later down the line when budgets get cut or priorities shift away from promoting engagement towards promoting revenue generation instead.
The purpose of a roadmap is not to make your existing users happy. It’s a living document that guides you as you build out the features, functionality, and design of your new mobile app or website.
The article talks about product roadmaps in product management and explains the procedure of creating a successful roadmap. A product roadmap is a communication tool that gives details of a product vision and product strategies. The three important types generally used are goal-oriented roadmaps, feature-based roadmaps, and theme-based roadmaps. The article also tells us about the need for a product roadmap, its key features, and how to make it effective. Additionally, the article discusses tools and some strategic plans for a product roadmap