A great idea does not guarantee a great product. A hit product also requires execution, a common “language” that all stakeholders understand, and a detailed plan that keeps everyone working towards a common goal. In short, a great product requires a product roadmap.
A product roadmap is a distinct and product-specific document that articulates a new product’s high-level strategy and day-to-day development plan. It aligns the product’s vision with the company’s business objectives and highlights the product’s priorities and progress.
This brief guide explores the key components of product roadmaps. It also includes five examples that will inspire you to build appealing roadmaps for all your projects and stakeholders.
A product roadmap is a shared source of truth that clarifies the product’s vision and strategy for business users and senior managers. It also translates technical terms into language that these users can understand.
The roadmap is also a plan of action and a to-do list that enables product managers and their development team to track progress towards stated goals and objectives. It shows these users the project’s big picture so they understand what to focus on, what to prioritize, and why.
In agile development, a product roadmap articulates a product’s strategy and maps out the various phases and steps of its development process. It also outlines future product functionalities and enhancements and guides the team’s day-to-day work.
Lastly, a roadmap functions as a collaboration and communication tool that enables stakeholders to effectively pool resources, coordinate efforts, and align synergies during product development.
Since a product roadmap is a crucial asset for product developers, owners, managers, and even senior management, it’s vital to put some thought and effort into creating it. An effective product roadmap is simple enough for the intended audience to understand. At the same time, it includes crucial details about the project’s status, target release dates, problem areas, and important milestones to show what’s happening and what’s on the agenda.
Further, this “living” document contains the following essential components that both business and technical audiences will find useful:
In addition to these five crucial elements, a strategic product roadmap may include status markers to track short-term development progress and tangible metrics to assess the data-driven goals vis-à-vis the plan.
Since the product roadmap is such a crucial document, it’s best to stick to tried-tested-proven practices. Five such practices are given below:
The first step to creating a product roadmap is articulating the product’s vision and strategy. Customer personas, market trajectories, and the product’s value propositions provide valuable intelligence to clarify the vision and strategic goals, prioritize initiatives, and create the roadmap.
Different stakeholders need different kinds of information from the roadmap. That’s why it’s important to consider the audience before finalizing the roadmap’s format and contents.
Here are some examples of roadmap types based on audience types:
Strategic initiatives roadmap
Sales, customer success, marketing, and other cross-functional teams
Strategic initiatives roadmap
Strategic initiatives roadmap
The product roadmap should share important information in a format the audience can easily understand. It should visually display the project’s goals, activities, timelines, approvals, etc. It should highlight key details and enable users to gauge progress and identify any constraints or problems that need to be resolved on priority.
It’s vital to build context into the roadmap to show the bigger picture and enable more effective decision-making. One good way to do this is to break initiatives into epics in the product backlog and decompose the epics into user stories.
As a living document, the roadmap is not a one-time done-and-dusted effort. If anything, it should be regularly updated as features are modified or new initiatives are planned. The roadmap should always reflect the status of current work and clearly identify long-term goals.
Here are five types of product roadmaps that are popular with product teams worldwide:
The release plan is a high-level execution plan of upcoming product releases. It shows a visual timeline with key milestones and the work that will be delivered in a given timeframe. This roadmap is ideal for showing a regular release schedule without committing to a specific product launch date to senior executives, cross-functional team members, and customers.
A features roadmap shows the details of features and their planned delivery dates. It helps track the progress of feature development vis-à-vis milestones or deadlines. Features can be grouped by status to visually highlight progress and allocate resources as required.
A sprint plan enables development teams to plan product delivery over multiple sprints. Product owners and managers can monitor the team’s workload, see the effort required in each sprint, view specific pieces of work, and also identify problem areas.
A product backlog is a development to-do list defining the product’s high-level requirements and features. It consists of user stories and is created by the product owner.
A now-next-later roadmap is a type of product backlog that shows the features customers care about. It shows what will be released now, next, and later. This information matters to customers and internal teams like sales and customer success teams.
An epic roadmap enables product teams to build a high-level overview of project management goals. They can group related features and view upcoming releases with associated high-level goals and epics. The document is useful to communicate key focus areas, align the entire team, and make accurate prioritization decisions.
Many product teams and managers struggle to share product roadmaps and announce new features to their intended audience. LaunchNotes eliminates this struggle with a centralized, user-friendly platform for all product roadmaps and change communications.
Ideal for both product managers and marketers, LaunchNotes enables these specialists and their teams to sharpen their launch messaging and build buzz around upcoming launches. They can even drive feature adoption and engagement and measure the impact of each message to ensure successful messaging and a successful launch.
Schedule a demo to know how LaunchNotes can help you reach the right users with the right message at the right time, every time.