How to Create a Product Roadmap: The Complete Guide to Success

13 July 2023 Writer: Lera Grechanik 2910 views

Nowadays, technologies change quickly, requiring companies to innovate more often and bring new products to the market. But interesting ideas don’t mean perfect results, and business owners typically hesitate to make the right decisions. A roadmap is an effective tool for describing the engineering of a product, connecting people involved, and attracting money to improve products.

A product roadmap is a sweeping visuals that outline your product's development and evolution trajectory. It serves as a strategic guide, effectively communicating the purpose and rationale behind the project. By integrating with the product strategy execution plan, the product roadmap harmoniously aligns and conveys the objectives and actions required to bring the product to fruition.

But it is challenging to create a roadmap effectively. The rapidly changing external circumstances must be taken into account. In this article, you will learn principal practical tips on how to create a product roadmap. 

Developing a Product Roadmap: Its Role in Software Engineering

Before diving into the process of creating a product roadmap, let's first understand why it is crucial for your business. The primary intent of a product roadmap is to convey the goals of the initial product to be developed. It serves as a visualization of the main goal to be achieved and the steps required to accomplish it. By creating a product roadmap, you can effectively communicate the implementation stages of your product to both your internal team and external stakeholders, including shareholders, partners, and customers.

Important note: A product roadmap should be continuously updated throughout all stages of the product development lifecycle. The opinions and insights of the managers and team members responsible for product delivery should also be taken into account to ensure the roadmap accurately reflects the evolving needs and priorities of the project 

However, no predetermined standard exists for organizing or visualizing a product roadmap. You may utilize various templates to display the relevant data conveniently, and this applies to software project rescue services as well:

  • Product Strategy
  • Release dates
  • The functionality of the product is "release to release"

Things to Consider While Creating a Product Roadmap (Or Not Everything Is Roadmap Worth)

Creating any documentation from scratch is arduous for the manager because it is sometimes apparent where to start. Another issue is the need to include much data, considering all the peculiarities while creating a digital product roadmap. 

The most logical and appropriate first step is often perceived as selecting a set of features to be implemented initially. However, pausing and taking a significant step back before diving into feature selection is essential. The primary focus should be on understanding the fundamental purpose and reason behind the product's existence.

Questions that need to be addressed include:

  • Why was the product created in the first place?
  • What initiated the development of the product?
  • What are the intended accomplishments?
  • How will the product and its achieved goals benefit the users?

By stepping back and contemplating these foundational aspects, the product team can understand the underlying motivations and objectives driving the development process. This deeper comprehension ensures that the subsequent feature selection and implementation align with the overall vision and purpose of the product, ultimately delivering value to the users.

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Tools for Developing a Product Roadmap

Utilizing specialized services for developing a product roadmap offers several advantages, making it a worthwhile choice. Here are a few reasons to consider:

  • Proper Visualization: Dedicated services ensure that the product roadmap is visually presented clearly and organized, enhancing understanding and communication.
  • Collaborative Teamwork: With a dedicated app development team, multiple team members can collaborate seamlessly in creating the roadmap, fostering better teamwork and collective input.
  • Easy Updates: Specialized services facilitate quick and timely updates to the product roadmap, ensuring that it remains accurate and up-to-date throughout development.
  • Integration with Third-Party Services: These tools can easily integrate with other third-party services, allowing for smoother data exchange and a more comprehensive approach.

While specialized tools are beneficial, there are other options to consider:

Old Good Spreadsheets

Traditional tools like Excel and Google Sheets can still effectively create product roadmaps. They allow for organizing product ideas, deadlines, and priorities but may lack visual appeal and may be less user-friendly for some.

Presentations

Tools like PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides offer a visualized approach to product roadmap development. They provide appealing presentations, but manual updates, similar to spreadsheets and other services, can be a drawback.

Specialized services offer a better visualized and collaborative approach, but spreadsheets and presentations remain viable alternatives for creating product roadmaps, each with its own set of advantages and limitations. The choice of tool depends on the specific needs and preferences of the product development team.

Other Web-Based Tools for Creating a Product Roadmap

Let’s look at the TOP platforms, which will be in hand for anyone who has decided to create a product roadmap.

  • Ganttpro is the best app for small team management because it's super user-friendly and has many features.
  • Roadmunk is also easy to use. During 15 minutes, you can make a roadmap and share it between teams. The well-defined tool has a large stock of ready-to-use envisaged topics.
  • Proofhub is not a completely interactive program, but it also is working. Every single function is valuable and does its work very well.
  • Roadmap Planner offers a built-in tool for strategic planning. It includes different templates that can speed up the planning process.
  • Taskworld is a tool for planning and making a list of tasks. It has a pleasant interface, and the personal profile is made best. It has a very stable and fast API.
  • Aha! consists of modules that help you manage a product's entire lifecycle.
  • Craft helps you make different stories and translate those into a visual roadmap.
  • Lucidchart offers connecting online with a simple, friendly interface.
  • Onedesk helps you identify and prioritize requirements straight. 
  • ProductPlan includes drag-and-drop features that help you to see several roadmaps in the preliminary plan.
  • TrendsRadius analyzes customer feedback from multiple channels and then translates that feedback into actionable insights. 
  • Smartsheet offers a Gantt chart with many views, and adaptation features such as color and symbols, and the possibility of working in all real-time. 

Once you've chosen the service for creating a product roadmap, the first step, to begin with, is to understand how to craft the roadmap effectively. Let's take a closer look at the process.

How to Create a Product Roadmap?

When developing a product roadmap, avoiding clutter and maintaining a clear focus is crucial. Unlike other artifacts, the roadmap acts as a disciplined gatekeeper, allowing only the most relevant and valuable elements to come in. To achieve this, apply the following filters to keep the roadmap straightforward:

  • Each branch or feature considered for inclusion must provide value to users. If it fulfills this criterion, it can be added; otherwise, it should be excluded to avoid wasting space.
  • Gut feelings or subjective opinions are insufficient grounds for inclusion. Only branches backed by concrete metrics and documented facts should make it onto the roadmap.
  • Each request on the roadmap should have a dedicated owner who understands all the intricacies and is willing to advocate for its implementation.

The roadmap is a tool for prioritization and scheduling, not a repository for every good idea. Only ideas that align with the overall strategy should be included.

Creating a Product Roadmap: Key Phases

1. Strategy Takes the Lead

The initial stage involves understanding the client's pain points and determining how the product under development can effectively address them. Identify the desired functionalities and mark them on the roadmap.

Your working policy will establish the product's vision, goals, initiatives, and how it contributes to achieving business objectives.

Important note: The entire team must share a clear vision of how the product will alleviate the client's pain points. Uniform understanding across all team members regarding the entire process is essential. 

2. Priorities Do Matter

Always Prioritize Customers' Needs Throughout Product Development Regardless of the stage of product development. Objectively evaluating your ideas will help avoid subjectivity and enable you to identify key indicators that form the foundation of your product strategy. Ideas that hold significant value and receive higher ratings should be considered for implementation.

Important note: Thoroughly study metrics, utilizing the most suitable ones, and don't hesitate to make necessary changes to the roadmap based on the results obtained. Adaptability is key to delivering a successful product that aligns perfectly with your customers' requirements.

3. Define Requirements and Features

Having addressed the "why" through your strategy, it's time to focus on the "what" by defining your features. As mentioned in the introductory guide, this task doesn't fall within your immediate responsibilities. The development team will handle it at a later stage.

You have to figure out what features support your strategy. Then you’ll create user stories around those features and build them out to give them context. You want to provide your engineering team with as much information as possible so that they can come up with a solution for your new target audience.

4. Know When to Show Dates

Marking dates while developing a product roadmap has been a hotly debated question. We highly recommend using dates or time frames on an internal roadmap that regulates the work of marketing, sales and support, and the development team. It helps you strike a balance between timely delivery and the full realization of your goal. Moreover, it clarifies the interested parties and development teams, helping them do their work. 

The level of detail of your roadmap needs to leave room for innovation and agile responsiveness. It needs to set a time frame. In this way, you’re committing your team to keep their promises. It is important to remember that a critical function of your product roadmap is providing guidance. So, rather than specifying dates, many managers choose planning at the monthly or quarterly level. Moreover, you can omit dates at all.

Important notewhen you use an external roadmap shown to customers and users and often used as a sales tool, we suggest not demonstrating any dates but streamlining your releases and possibly using a now-next-later grid to order them.

5. Tailor Your Roadmap to Your Stakeholder(s)

A product’s success depends on the participation of other internal teams. Aim to get stakeholders’ support early to get full support during development. You can help persuade stakeholders by customizing and presenting a roadmap considering their interests. 

Stakeholders often seek specific information in a product roadmap. Here is a breakdown of what different stakeholders typically expect:

  • Company Management:  They are interested in understanding every aspect of your product strategy, including market data and the size of the target market.
  • Marketing and Promotion Teams: These stakeholders require information on product features, a comparative analysis of your product against similar offerings in the market, and an assessment of your product's potential to drive sales growth.
  • Sales Teams: They rely on the roadmap to have access to release dates and detailed information about the benefits your product brings to customers. This knowledge enables them to effectively communicate the value proposition and drive sales. It will also give an approximate image of how much does it cost to develop an app.
  • Engineers and developers: Requirements, time frame, sprints, and specific tasks.

By including these key details in your product roadmap, you can cater to different stakeholders' specific needs and expectations, fostering transparency, alignment, and effective collaboration throughout the organization.

Important note: If you’re bothered by the question of how to build a product development roadmap for each stakeholder group, don’t worry. You don’t have to create several versions of your roadmap for each group. Instead, you can use a flexible online tool to highlight the most relevant information to a specific party.  

6. Sharing and Communication

Effective communication is crucial as product development and successful delivery rely on collaborative efforts. Once the roadmap is prepared, it is essential to share it with the team. Modern tools offer convenient options to accomplish this with just a single click. Embracing these possibilities ensures that teamwork remains streamlined, straightforward, and highly efficient. Don't overlook the benefits of leveraging such tools to enhance collaboration within the team.

Sharing your roadmap has several advantages. Apart from encouraging teamwork engagement and support of senior management, your roadmap includes all the progress you’ve made and sets goals for the following stages. Whether you share your roadmap using spreadsheets, PowerPoint, or a cloud-based software program, sharing your roadmap is an important step to ensure accountability amongst your group and keep everybody updated.

Important noteA roadmap is a tool for managing processes and improving teamwork productivity. 

How Does Agile Development Affect Today's Roadmaps?

In the past, prior to the dominance of Agile methodologies in working processes, product roadmap examples were more static and experienced fewer fluctuations over the product's lifespan. There were cases where roadmaps remained unchanged for a year and a half or even longer.

However, in the present, with the prevalence of Agile practices, product roadmaps have transformed into living documents. Timeframes have become shorter, and adjustments are made more frequently, driven by market dynamics and shifting priorities. Agile roadmaps often differ from traditional roadmaps due to these reasons, even when multiple products are involved.

One of the crucial secrets to how to create a software product roadmap is to keep it up to date. Outdated roadmaps can confuse the team and mislead customers, leading to false expectations. If you want to avoid this confusion, it is vital to employ efficient roadmap-creation tools that facilitate quick updates as needed.


Regardless of the approach you choose, the recommendations provided in this section of the product management guide will offer a robust framework for constructing, sharing, and maintaining your product roadmap.

If you require assistance in creating your roadmap or if you are still unsure about how to create a plan for product development, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help you.

 

Areas of responsibility - brand and growth marketing. Strongly believes that software development is an art and marketing is not just about sales but about sharing your passion. Her educational background in the field of business and marketing allows her to create expert content and help others to grow and expand knowledge.

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F.A.Q.
01.
Why are roadmaps essential?
Sanya
Sanya
Project Manager

The importance of roadmaps lies in their ability to serve a clear purpose. They are designed to communicate the primary objectives and implementation stages of a product to external stakeholders. A well-crafted roadmap focuses on the goals and essential steps without delving into specific product features. To ensure its effectiveness, regular updates throughout the product development lifecycle are crucial while also taking into account valuable input from team members. This collaborative approach ensures that roadmaps remain relevant and aligned with the evolving needs of the project.

02.
What are the steps to create a roadmap?
Lena
Lena
Project Manager

Product Roadmap Creation Steps:

  1. Identify Client Objectives: Understand the client's objectives and pain points, and outline the desired functionality that addresses them. This step establishes the product's vision, goals, and initiatives.
  2. Prioritize Based on Customer Needs: Evaluate ideas objectively and prioritize them based on customer needs. Utilize relevant metrics to guide decision-making and make necessary adjustments to the roadmap as required.
  3. Define Supporting Features: Define the features that align with the product strategy and create user stories to provide context for the development team. This step ensures a clear understanding of the required functionality.
  4. Consider Dates: Decide whether to include specific dates on the roadmap. While monthly or quarterly planning is typically collaborative, there may be situations where omitting all the dates is more appropriate.
  5. Tailor to Stakeholder Interests: Customize the roadmap to cater to the specific interests and needs of stakeholders. Take into account the information each group requires and utilize online tools to highlight relevant details.
  6. Share with the Team and Senior Management: Foster engagement and keep everyone informed by sharing the roadmap with the team and senior management. This serves as a valuable tool for enhancing productivity and ensuring alignment within the organization.
03.
Does Agile affect the roadmap creation?
Dmitry
Dmitry
Project Manager

Product roadmaps were traditionally static and could remain unchanged for extended periods, sometimes even a year or more. However, the introduction of Agile methodologies has transformed roadmaps into dynamic and living documents that undergo frequent adjustments in response to market dynamics and shifting priorities. Maintaining an up-to-date roadmap is vital for success, as outdated roadmaps can lead to confusion among team members and misaligned customer expectations. To ensure accuracy and effectiveness, it is essential to utilize efficient tools that facilitate the creation and regular updating of the roadmap as needed.

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