Building a product roadmap helps you stay on track through the path to product success. Developing a product takes a lot of time, and you might need to go beyond the initial idea and come up with new ones along the way.
As you develop your product, a roadmap enables you to ensure all the teams are on the same page about the process and the goals you want to achieve. It also provides direction to your efforts as well as a clear path to reach your goals.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about product roadmaps. So read on and find out how to build an excellent product roadmap to boost your business strategy.
What Is a Product Roadmap?
A product roadmap is a visual representation that maps out the product development stages. Businesses create product roadmaps to align the product’s vision with their objectives.
This visual communication tool illustrates your product, why you are producing it, and how it will evolve. Additionally, it gives the stakeholders and teams insights that help them prioritize their workload and focus on goals.
Overall, a roadmap is a guide that helps the organization plan and implement its strategies more effectively and conduct product research.
Why Is Creating a Product Roadmap Important?
Creating a proper product roadmap can help your business in many ways. Here are some of the most significant benefits it offers:
1- Creating Organizational Alignment
As mentioned before, roadmaps help you make sure all the teams across the organization have the same understanding of the product strategy. This understanding enables the teams to make informed decisions that will benefit both the business and customers.
2- Increasing Stakeholders’ Confidence
With a roadmap, you can communicate your product strategy to stakeholders more effectively. It shows them what’s going on and how you are progressing. Therefore, stakeholders will feel more confident as they know you are putting effort into solving customers’ pain points, which then leads to business growth.
3- Improving Cross-Team Collaboration
Another benefit of roadmaps is that it helps employees from different teams to collaborate more efficiently. It facilitates product prioritization as teams and stakeholders can have collaborative dialogues about what to focus on. Also, a product development roadmap enables you to identify the problems that you need to solve first.
4- Creating a Direction for the Product
As teams collaborate and continue conversations about product development, they achieve a deeper understanding of the vision. This understanding will help you set a destination that guides you toward creating a strategic direction.
What Should a Product Roadmap Include?
Now let’s see what you should include in your product roadmap:
1- Product Vision
The product vision gives you the big picture of the what and why of your product. It’s necessary to define a vision as it helps you design a successful product strategy.
After defining your vision, you need to develop a strategy that determines your actions to fulfill the vision. The strategy helps you build a business case for your product. As a result, you can show the stakeholders how the product will benefit the business and persuade them to invest.
You need to set goals to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve with your product. These goals help you measure progress and understand where your product is going within a specific timeframe.
The roadmap should also include the features your product has. Talk to your sales and customer service teams to find out what users expect from your current products. Also, try to figure out how to achieve customer delight. This way, you can determine the features you can add to your product and prioritize them.
It would be best if you created a timeline for your goals and feature launches. A timeline lets you know where you are headed and how much time to spend at each stage.
6- Status Markers
Use status markers so that all teams can keep track of progress. This is a great way to keep everyone informed about the timing.
Metrics enable you to measure your progress toward achieving your business goals. Make sure everyone understands the metrics and measures progress the same way.
Different Types of Product Roadmap
Here are the most common types of product roadmaps with examples:
1- Now-Next-Later Roadmap
Now-next-later roadmaps communicate priorities in a specific period of time. They indicate what you are doing now, what the next step is, and what you should do later. Below you can see an example of this type of product management roadmap.
Image source: www.prodpad.com
2- Goal-Oriented Roadmap
The goal-oriented roadmap focuses on outcomes. It helps you set product goals and create release plans. You can use this roadmap to organize and convey information about your goals.
Image source: www.slideteam.net
3- Theme-Based Roadmap
Theme-based roadmaps are like goal-oriented ones, but the difference is that they include multiple goals. The product team uses this roadmap to group and prioritize goals strategically.
Image source: www.roadmunk.com
4- Feature-Based Roadmap
Feature-based roadmaps help you track specific features of your product. With these roadmaps, you can communicate the development progress of key features to all team members and prioritize releases.
Image source: www.roadmunk.com
5- Product Portfolio Roadmap
Organizations use this type of roadmap to manage a set of products. It helps you keep track of how each product is progressing toward business objectives. You can also understand the relationships between products.
Image source: www.roadmunk.come
How to Create a Product Roadmap?
Before creating a product roadmap, make sure to determine what business goals you want to achieve. Now, let’s dive deeper into the steps you should follow to build a product roadmap:
1- Develop Your Product Strategy and Vision
Why are you developing this product? The answer to this question is the starting point of designing your product strategy. Remember, your vision is the why of your product. With a clear vision, you will know what you need to do to gain a competitive advantage as it tells you who your target audience is and what they need.
Research the market and your rivals. Try to understand your customers on a deeper level. Talk to your salespeople, as well as your customers. These will help you simplify the persona mapping process. The insights buyer personas provide enable you to develop a clear vision and a more effective product strategy.
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2- Define Your Intended Audience
Your roadmap will differ depending on the audience you want to present it to. The intended audience is the main factor that determines your roadmap’s format, type, and content.
For example, if you are going to present your roadmap to the sales team, it should focus on the features and the customer benefits. That’s because they need to know how to sell the product and increase sales.
You should explain the benefits to sales reps so they can communicate them to prospects and leads. Also, categorizing features into themes will help your sales reps explain them to prospects more effectively. To illustrate, if your audience are engineers, the roadmap should focus on features, release dates, deadlines, and milestones. Therefore, engineers will know exactly where to channel their efforts and how to handle tasks.
3- Define Features and Requirements
By now, you know the purpose of your product. So, you should define the features that support that purpose. Write user stories to better understand the user perspective on a specific feature. Additionally, you also need requirements to provide engineering teams with insights into implementing solutions.
Features focus on the end-user point of view, while requirements are things the product does and its qualities.
4- Choose a Product Roadmap Type
Now, you should pick a product roadmap type based on your intended audience. For example, a feature-based roadmap may be the right choice if you are going to present it to engineers.
By choosing the roadmap type, you will know what content, information, and level of detail you need to include.
5- Choose the Right Metrics
Product metrics are necessary to measure your progress. The metrics you choose depend on the goals you want to achieve, considering customer and business needs.
By making your roadmap measurable, you can make sure you are working toward your goals.
Product Roadmap Best Practices
Here are some tips to follow while building your product roadmap:
1- Keep It Flexible
You might have created the timeline, defined your product’s features, set release dates, and so on. However, everything’s changing so fast, including customers’ behavior, technology, the competition, etc.
As there are many unpredictable factors, you must keep your product roadmap flexible. Understand that change is part of the product development process, and priorities might change.
2- Forget about Useless Features
Not all the ideas you come up with are going to work out. Sometimes, you add a feature to your product that seems a great idea at first, but after testing the feature, you find out no one is paying attention to it. Maybe it would be better to stop working on it as it can be a waste of time.
Moreover, there are times when a good feature becomes useless over time. It’s not always worth it to spend time to find out how to fix it, so you might want to remove it.
3- Listen to All Teams
Product success requires the collaboration of all teams; it won’t happen if only the product team is working on it. Keep in mind that the marketing and sales teams and the others who are connected with customers can offer valuable insights into customers’ needs and preferences. These insights can help you build a more effective product roadmap.
Creating a product roadmap is necessary as it allows all teams to understand the product strategy and the development process. It also helps you prioritize tasks and achieve your product goals.