Introduction

A roadmap is an advanced level strategic plan and overview of an initiative that defines the goal or expected outcome. Roadmapping includes outlining the major steps required to reach the goal. They are often used to manage the development of a new product or project. It acts as the main reference point and creating a roadmap ensures every member of the team shares the same vision and understanding of the initiative.

A roadmap not only keeps the team members on the same page but also acts as an overview that one can refer to know about the priorities, while also making it easier to alter the tasks when changes are required. A roadmap also acts as a communication tool and helps those in charge communicate objectives and share updates.  

A roadmap can be used for any strategic initiative, and using a roadmap for product development is extremely essential. It serves as a strategic tool to guide the development of products. It should be noted that a roadmap is a strategic document and not something that contains all the details. While understanding the concept of the roadmap, it is important to remember that a roadmap planner differs from a regular plan as it doesn’t contain every detail about the product, instead, it’s a guiding, high level, easily understandable strategic tool.

  1. Product Roadmap Definition 
  2. How to create a product roadmap?
  3. Product roadmaps formats
  4. Product Roadmap Examples 
  5. How to Add Multiple Products to Your Roadmap

1. Product Roadmap Definition 

A product roadmap is an advanced visual summary that draws out the vision, goal, and direction of your product in a timeline. It aims at explaining the why and what behind the product while acting as a strategic tool as well as a plan to execute the vision and strategy. Roadmapping ideally begins with defining the strategic direction for the product in line with the vision and strategy of the company. 

A product roadmap outlines certain goals, such as :

  • Explaining the vision and strategy. 
  • Serving as a reference document in case of guidance to execute the strategy.
  • Facilitating internal communication and discussions 
  • Establishing alignment with stakeholders and customers.
  • Help to communicate with external stakeholders to present your business strategy and discuss major steps.
  • Evolve and change with the market requirements

A Project Roadmap meaning includes:

  • Product vision – what you are building and what you want it to develop into.
  • Goal – your objectives that can be tracked by certain measures.
  • Strategy – an outline of the plan to meet the goal
  • Time-frames – an appropriate timeline to show when and how things will unfold. 
  • Metrics — to measure data-driven goals and real-time developments.

2. How to create a product roadmap?

To create a successful and functional roadmap, step by step process should be followed. Here is a multi-step guide to getting you started :

1. Form a Product-specific strategy – The first step towards creating a roadmap is to have a clear vision aligned with the goals. Discuss the possible strategies with the stakeholders and keep an eye out in the market about similar initiatives to get clear ideas. SWOT analysis and Competitors Analysis will also help to figure out the possible strategies.

2. Define your audience – Your audience will act as a predetermining factor for the roadmap. A roadmap should be designed keeping mind the audience you will present it to. 

3. Choose a Format – Roadmap comes in different formats and you need to pick the right one. For example, A Feature-based format is more suitable for an engineering team rather than the marketing team.

4. Use specific tools for Roadmap – Using Excel to build a roadmap is not the way to go. There are roadmap specific tools designed to speed up the process and seamless updating. For example, OpenProject, Roadmap Planner, etc

5. Keep the information up to date – While generalized vision and strategies are recommended avoiding the tactics and detailing, it is necessary to update new goals and features as the dynamics of the product changes. An ideal roadmap always has a scope for evolution.

3. Product roadmaps formats

A roadmap comes in different formats that mainly depends on the type of product roadmap. The most commonly used roadmap formats are Goal-oriented, Theme-based or Feature-based ones.

Goal-Oriented Format – The roadmap is designed in a way that all the information is organized around the goals. This makes the strategy and vision easily understandable, grouped together, and well explained.

Theme-Based Format – A theme-based format is quite similar to the goal-oriented format as both answer the ‘why’ questions. However, a theme-based format lists several goals at once.

Feature-based format – The roadmap is formulated around the features of the product, which makes it very detailed.

4. Product Roadmap Examples 

Product Roadmaps differ from one project type to another. Different roadmaps are based upon different factors such as its audience, the constituencies, details mentioned, and so on. Few common roadmap examples are :

Strategy Roadmaps – These mainly deal with the plans and detailed outline of the process and market situation.

Visionary Roadmap – Defines the roadmap around the key vision of the product and expectations.

Technology Roadmap – A roadmap designed for the production team with lowkey technical details.

Internal and External Roadmap – It revolves around different types of audience it will serve and the information that needs to reach them. The roadmap may be categorized based upon its audience and different constituencies and the main objective the roadmap serves for them. Few roadmap examples based on the constituencies are :

  • Roadmap for Executive – The roadmap in this case will cater to explain how the planned strategies will add to the value of the product and the company. The roadmap, therefore, focuses on driving growth, market acquisition, and customer satisfaction.
  • Roadmap for Sales – A roadmap to cater to the sales team will focus on how the product will generate more sales and revenue. 
  • Roadmap for Customers – These roadmaps are for the external audience and hence are designed with a focus on the product benefits and features. This needs to be visually attractive and simplified. Details about the launch dates should be avoided unless there is certainty about the release date.

5. How to Add Multiple Products to Your Roadmap

 Involving multiple products in your roadmap certainly ups the game but also increases the degree of difficulty. When multiple products are involved, you have to create and convey the vision and plans for all of them instead of a single one.

Roadmap works in the fashion of alignment and getting all the messages aligned for multiple products certainly becomes tedious and brainstorming. Further, multiple product managers and teams may be involved which can lead to frequent clashes and disagreement. Each product manager will bring their vision, taste, and goals which will have to be clubbed together in a single roadmap. 

Conclusion:

The key to pulling multiple products road-mapping comes from consistency. It becomes extremely important to align the roadmap style, color coding, legend, and time horizon. The task of multiple product road mapping can be made easier when each team manages its roadmap and ultimately club them in a portfolio with a single, consistent view. The technicalities of the portfolio may be decided in advance so that the teams can work according to the decided themes, color code, and outline.

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