Roadmaps are vitally important to help product managers build alignment around a plan that builds trust among stakeholders. This guide can help product managers plan, create, and share a beautiful product roadmap that will make them stand out in front of all their teams.
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What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a visual communication tool that aligns a company around a high-level product strategy. Depending on the type of organization, product roadmaps can include future features and technical considerations and often demonstrate how a product will evolve over time. Roadmaps communicate the intended business and customer outcomes that a plan will achieve over a period of time.
A product roadmap is also a coordination tool: it gives stakeholders and team members the information they need to focus on their goals and priorities. Roadmaps provide visibility into all the moving parts that help product teams coordinate their efforts, such as resource scope and allocation, and the reasons behind those decisions.
Why are product roadmaps important?
When product managers establish a healthy product planning process and culture in their organization, they help accomplish a few things:
1. Alignment and enthusiasm around a product strategy
A product roadmap is the perfect tool if you want to raise awareness of the product strategy throughout your organization.
2. Visibility of what is happening, changing or progressing within the strategy
A great product roadmap builds stakeholder confidence in the company's progress.
3. Cross-functional team collaboration and clarity on priorities
Having a product roadmap encourages teams to focus on issues that can be resolved with available resources, a prioritization exercise in itself.
4. Continuous communication
These ongoing conversations about the why, how and who of the work to be done create a culture of alignment and deep understanding of the product's vision and direction.
How to plan what goes on the script
1. Generate goals for a specific, limited time period
Product managers rarely know what will happen a year from now (market changes, discovery of new user needs, etc.), so it doesn't make sense to plan a year-long timeline. You just need the who, what, and how details for the month and quarter, focused on working toward one or two high-level goals (e.g.,agile teamsand start-ups, even that deadline can be overkill!).
How do you determine what the product goals should be for a quarter? No matter where you are in your company's lifecycle, whether you're a 20-person start-up or a 2,000-person multi-product portfolio company, it all starts with theproduct vision.That's what Roman Pichler calls it:"The reason to create the product."Everything you do needs to align with this unique positioning for your product.
2. Identify problems that can be solved
Once you know your business objectives and have a product strategy based on measuring and improving the metrics related to those objectives, it's time to move on to the problem discovery phase.
What user issues can you resolve to impact the defined metrics?Look for the issues that will create the greatest impact on business goals.
- customer feedback:Chat with your users frequently.We cannot repeat this enough!Feature requests coming from sales messages and CS/CX are helpful, but a product manager must be deeply involved in user conversations. Look for issues that can be resolved within the time block you've set for the roadmap.
professional advice?: Use a model like Ash Maurya'syour thinness) or thework to make a pictureto conceptualize and segment your understanding of customer problems and needs.
Usage data:How do your users interact with your product and features? Look for common problems, barriers and behavioral trends that can be resolved.
Competitive Product Analysis:Trying out your competitors' products helps you get a more complete frame of reference about your product's position in the market. Conduct in-depth reviews, evaluate experiences and compare them to your product.
This depth of investigation andproblem findingDuring the product roadmap planning phase, it's crucial to focus on the right issues that you will commit to solving over a period of time. This research is the evidence you will use to justify why certain features and initiatives should be on the roadmap during alignment discussions.
3. Align with your internal teams and stakeholders
Product roadmap planning should be collaborative from start to finish.
Customer-oriented teamsThey are the main points of contact for product managers during the product roadmap planning process. More than70% of the 2019 Pragmatic Institute survey Respondents said they spend less than five hours a month processing customer feedback, and most product managers don't have the time to conduct extensive, ongoing user research.
How can you build relationships with your teams during the product roadmap planning phase? Have ongoing conversations with customers and customer support teams and be curious about their thoughts on proposed solutions.
Drive your customer-facing team's conversations with questions like:
- What problems do you consider urgent? Can you explain to me why you feel this way?
- What evidence do you base it on?
- What do you think is the impact of acting or not acting on this comment?
4. Define success metrics and KPIs for initiatives in the product roadmap
What is the best way to quantify the impact of goals to be achieved and problems to be solved over a period of time? Make sure your roadmap is connected to well-defined key performance indicators (KPIs). Your script should illustrate or be informed by the answers to the questions:
- What will our long-term impact be?
- How will we measure whether this impact has been achieved?
- What is the process for updating and communicating the progress of this impact?
A popular method that helps product teams answer these questions isObjectives and Key Results (OKR). OKRs are a great goal setting framework because they take a high-level vision and break it down into manageable goals.
OKR goals are time-bound and actionable as well as inspiring. Key results, on the other hand, take the qualitative aspect of objectives and turn them into quantifiable milestones. For example:
- Triple the average number of weekly sessions on mobile devices by the end of February
- KR1: QA of all mobile functions
- KR2 – Improves loading time by 40%
- KR3: Add a new integration to the mobile version
5. Prioritize the product roadmap
A prioritization frameworkIt is useful during the product roadmap planning phase. Start by asking the questions: Which initiatives will create the greatest impact? What is the most urgent thing to resolve? What is our scope of resources (time, effort, technology)? Then move on to quantify those responses to make prioritization decisions.
free book alert⚠️. We've written an entire book about the prioritization process and the best frameworks you can adapt to your organization's needs.I get it here.
There are two weighted scoring methods that we like:
RICE.RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Trust and Effort. It is a simple weighted scoring method for quantifying the potential value of resources, project ideas, and initiatives. A RICE score helps product managers quantify the estimated value of a feature or design idea so that it's easier to rank them when it's time to decide the order in which to work. Sean McBride, who co-developed the RICE prioritization as PM at Intercom, guided us on how to best use this(prioritization method).
Value x Effort.A popular and easy way to communicate for prioritizing ideas is to compare the value gained from an idea with the effort required to complete it. Using a standard one-to-five rating scale, product managers or teams can make decisions quickly and easily. See our detailsfactors that define value and effort.
You can use RICE and value versus effort as models in Roadmunk to start generating high-impact ideas.try here.
How to build a product roadmap
Script formats tend to fall into three categories.
The product roadmap without dates:This offers more flexibility than schedule-based roadmaps. They are useful for companies whose priorities are constantly changing. This is often the case when your product is still in its early stages, when you are frequently processing new information.
The Hybrid Product Roadmap:This type of product roadmap includes dates, but not fixed dates. For example, a company might create a product roadmap organized by month or quarter. This script style allows you to plan ahead while maintaining flexibility.
Items here are plotted by month and designated as current, short term, or future. By dividing projects into blocks of time based on months, you create a loose projection that is helpful but not restrictive.
The timeline product roadmap:A complex timeline product roadmap isn't really useful or necessary until you juggle multiple departments, dependencies, and deadlines.
A timeline product roadmap provides a visual framework for the many moving parts that need to work together to ensure the product's success. They also show the long-term vision of the product, as some departments need to plan a year or more in advance.
In addition to working with a format that fits your business needs, there are some components of the roadmap that will make it a visual communication tool that your stakeholders can easily digest. (He canbuild a scriptwhich includes all these components using Roadmunk, by the way!):
- Identify dependencies early on.Every project, team, and initiative is interrelated, so it's important to define these dependencies early in the planning process.
- mark frames.Having milestones can highlight your organization's goals, key releases, events, and accomplishments, and visualizing an important goal or outcome in a roadmap helps your team pull together and understand what it takes to get there. This is especially useful if you are using the OKR method.
How to submit a product roadmap for acceptance
Presenting your roadmap is the perfect time to shine as a product manager in front of your stakeholders – you can demonstrate how well you know the market, users, product and business goals.
Before entering a stakeholder room, ask: What information is important to each department and stakeholder? What will most affect your work?
What matters to them:Scalability, code, work integrity, work efficiency, and build features that add real value (not just perceived value).
How to communicate your roadmap to a successful purchase:Engineering wants to understand value versus effort. For developers, integrity is a priority and they will reject features that seem difficult to scale or solutions that look inelegant. You need to be able to explain the intrinsic value of each feature and milestone: business value, customer value, product improvement value. Set realistic deadlines (i.e. increase your estimates), balancing urgency and limited resources.
What to show them:Focus on developer-oriented topics like scalability, ease of use, quality, performance, infrastructure, and features. And keep it short!
Sales, CS, and other customer-facing teams
What matters to them:WHAT they can promise customers and WHEN they will be ready; build trust and loyalty; product performance improvements; Ways to reduce turnover.
How to communicate your roadmap to a successful purchase:Focus on the timeline. When will the different outputs be ready? What can you promise current and current customers? Show how the roadmap will present ways to reduce churn and improve conversion. And Go Big: Highlight how the needs of large customers will be met and how your roadmap creates opportunities for significant business.
What to show them:What and when. Give them a transparent timeline that they can communicate to the customer the "what" and the "when". Provide a transparent timeline that they can communicate to customers and users. (Some roadmap schools of thought believe that you should keep dates off the roadmap because of the risk of committing to something that may not deliver. Assess that risk internally and decide if a dateless approach works best for you.) .
What matters to them:The business objectives and how the plan outlined in the roadmap will help the company achieve them. They want to see a strong connection between development initiatives and business priorities. Executives are most concerned with the investments a company makes (resource allocation) and how those investments will generate returns.
How to communicate your roadmap to a successful purchase:CEOs think at the top level and across all departments, so make sure your roadmap links each initiative to customer value and business goals.
What to show them:The executive team will want to see what features you're adding, but more importantly, they'll want to see how the initiatives will help the product go to market. They also want to understand the risks.
For a more in-depth look at how to present the roadmap to executives, check out this guide:Executive managers in the roadmapping process.
What matters to them:If you decide to have a customer-facing roadmap, it's important that the customer sees the value your product will deliver.
What to show them:Customer-facing roadmaps should not include the “what”, “how” and “when” that you would show internal teams (i.e. without dates, documentation or staff capacity). Promised and delivered! Focus on the things that are important for them to achieve, and set your roadmap themes around those categories.
How to stand out in your roadmap presentation
Examples of product roadmaps
Here's a roadmap for visualizing your product strategy and aligning your entire organization. You can use this roadmap to map out how your product will grow over time.
The classic product roadmap example
Here's a roadmap for visualizing your product strategy and aligning your entire organization. You can use this roadmap to map out how and when your product will grow over time.
start using itproduct roadmap:
Agile product roadmap example
An agile roadmap illustrates how your product or technology will evolve, with a lot of flexibility. Unlike time-based roadmaps, which focus on dates and deadlines, agile roadmaps focus on issues and progress. Agile roadmaps encapsulate the flexibility of the agile philosophy: they are a statement of where you are going, not a hard and fast blueprint.
start using itagile script:
Feature roadmap example
Feature roadmaps track the development and releases of a product's key features, communicating direction and progress.
Feature roadmaps manage an organization's allocation of resources across development cycles and prioritize major releases. They keep the focus on initiatives that add value for customers, without going into detail about other areas of a business.
start using itfeature roadmap:
Product launch roadmap example
A product launch roadmap illustrates how a new product will come to market. It cuts across all teams involved: product, development, marketing and sales. It outlines all the tasks required to ensure that pre-launch, launch, and post-launch tactics are successfully executed.
start using itproduct launch roadmap:
To see more examples, visit ourscript template library. Choose from over 45 free templates and get started with one in just a few clicks.
End product roadmap best practices
It is not a project management tool or release plan.Ideally, the product roadmap doesn't include the granular details of managing features and shipping dates. Your product roadmap focuses on the business and user outcomes you will create over a period of time (month, quarter or year).
Keep your product roadmap flexible.Executive stakeholders want to know what happens over several quarters, sometimes even a year. But technology moves quickly and different priorities emerge from ongoing conversations and product discovery interviews with users. Furthermore, development timelines are often unpredictable; When presenting your roadmap, you need to communicate how change is part of the development process.
Measure performance and share status updates.Roadmaps cannot be static documents like Excel and PowerPoint roadmaps. The “lifecycle” roadmap doesn't simply end with a submission. You need to track KPIs and progress, as well as keep your customers in the loop.
There are countless ways to bring a screenplay to life. Sign up for 14 daysFree trialand create your first product roadmap in just a few clicks.
Product roadmap best practices by product managers
5 common screenplay questions
8+ free customizable product roadmap templates
How to focus on the right qualitative and quantitative data for the product roadmap
Why a roadmap tool is better than a Microsoft Office roadmap
What is a product roadmap? ›
A product roadmap is a shared source of truth that outlines the vision, direction, priorities, and progress of a product over time. It's a plan of action that aligns the organization around short and long-term goals for the product or project, and how they will be achieved.What is Roadmunk used for? ›
Roadmunk is web-based software designed to help create and share attractive visual roadmaps for product management. The solution enables the entire team to efficiently collaborate in planning the future steps of a product.What is the meaning of Roadmunk? ›
Roadmunk is the end-to-end roadmapping tool for building and communicating your product strategy.What is a Roadmunk timeline? ›
Roadmunk has two types of visualization: Timelines and Swimlanes. Timelines are the more traditional way of visualizing a roadmap, showing a time-oriented view of items such as initiatives and objectives punctuated by milestones to highlight goals, achievement, and other important time markers.What should a product roadmap include? ›
- Product Vision. This is critical as it sets your company on the path to creating a specific product strategy. ...
- Strategy. This is the case you build for your product. ...
- Requirements. You need to get information to outline your needs. ...
- Product Plan. ...
- Markers. ...
What is an agile product roadmap? A product roadmap is a plan of action for how a product or solution will evolve over time. Product owners use roadmaps to outline future product functionality and when new features will be released.What are the different types of product roadmaps? ›
Each type of product roadmap serves a specific purpose that should match the needs of your team, stakeholders, and customers. The three types of roadmaps listed below are status-oriented, theme-oriented, and outcome-oriented roadmaps.Who creates the product roadmap? ›
1. Product manager. The product manager is ultimately responsible for the product roadmap.What is a roadmap in simple words? ›
The basic definition of a roadmap is simple: it's a visual way to quickly communicate a plan or strategy. Every team has a plan and strategy built around doing what pushes the business goals forward.What does roadmap stand for? ›
A roadmap is a visual representation of your strategic plans. It ties together your strategy (the "why"), the work you will need to do to achieve your goals (the "what"), and a timeline for completion (the "when").
What is roadmapping used for? ›
What Is Roadmapping? Roadmapping is the strategic process of determining the actions, steps, and resources needed to take the initiative from vision to reality. In the case of product roadmapping, the process involves a product manager and her team.What is the difference between a roadmap and a timeline? ›
Roadmap: A roadmap is a document that communicates the goals that the company (or product) is aiming for. Timeline: A timeline is a visual that sequences chronological events with firm start and end dates. Deadline: A deadline is a set due date for a project or event.What is not a product roadmap? ›
Let's get real: Timelines are a terrible way to roadmap. It's time for a roadmap that communicates your strategy, not just your deadlines. 5-minute read. 5-minute read.How do I write a product roadmap document? ›
- Start with research and context-building. ...
- Decide on the desired outcome(s) based on a business need. ...
- Find the right problems to solve. ...
- Set a timeframe. ...
- Organize problems into high-level themes.
Among our pool of survey respondents—more than 500 product professionals across many industries—the most common roadmap timeframe is one year out, followed by 4 to 6 months, and the third most common timeframe is a roadmap planned 2 to 3 months ahead. Of course, these timeframes vary considerably according to industry.Is a product roadmap a strategy? ›
A product roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and direction of your product offering over time. A product roadmap communicates the why and what behind what you're building. A roadmap is a guiding strategic document as well as a plan for executing the product strategy.What is the difference between a project roadmap and a product roadmap? ›
The product roadmap provides the plan for achieving the product goals, which are often related to business goals. The project roadmap also lays out a plan but is typically focused on the timeline for a specific project.What are the three types of roadmap? ›
There are five types of roadmaps that are the most commonly used: Market and Strategy, Visionary, Technology, Platform and Product (Internal & External).Is a product roadmap a Gantt chart? ›
Many think that a project or product roadmap looks similar to a Gantt chart. However, they serve different audiences and purposes. A Gantt chart serves as a detailed, linear schedule of tasks related to a particular project. A roadmap is a high-level, strategic plan aimed to communicate your project goals and vision.What are the 4 stages of product development? ›
A product life cycle consists of four stages: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. A lot of products continue to remain in a prolonged maturity state.
What is the difference between a product roadmap and a project plan? ›
What is the difference between a roadmap and a plan? It's easy to confuse a project roadmap with a project plan. The key difference between the two relates to the level of detail. A project roadmap remains high-level, while a project plan aims to include granular details.What is the difference between product strategy and roadmap? ›
While the product strategy outlines a desired future state the product roadmap articulates the necessary tactical steps to take to achieve the vision.What is the difference between a roadmap and a road map? ›
The people who write it as a single word clearly perceive it as a unit of meaning in its own right and not dependent on the meaning of lot. Someone on Twitter suggested that the road map spelling refers to the physical object and roadmap to the figurative meaning.