A product roadmap workshop helps create and define a vision for a product’s future, and is an essential part of an agile product development process. It acts as a single company-wide source of information that provides teams with a clear vision of what they are working on and how to achieve their goals (i.e., launch new features).
The roadmap document helps teams to collaborate and stay on track while keeping key stakeholders aligned by providing clarity and clear direction for the future of the product and its features. The document is often rolling and active, allowing for flexibility and agile product management.
Multiple teams will likely reference your product roadmap, so it’s important to get it right. This is where holding a product roadmapping workshop comes into play to help you develop and build a successful product roadmap.
If you’re thinking, “I have no idea where to begin; what’s the first step in a product roadmapping session,” you’re in the right place. We’ll walk you through the steps to create and run an engaging product roadmap workshop.
Your product roadmap is an important document, so it’s not only up to the product manager to develop and distribute the information. Kick off your strategy by looping in the right stakeholders. Usually, this includes leaders from engineering and marketing, but depending on the size of your company, you might want to include the CTO or CEO.
By involving key stakeholders from the business, you align product direction across the company and give teams a sense of ownership over the future direction of the product and the business.
Involving stakeholders fosters a positive workplace culture and enhances belonging while ensuring that different departments’ voices are heard. This, in turn, helps increase motivation and excitement around the product.
For a product roadmap and the workshop to succeed, it’s essential to achieve buy-in from stakeholders. Without their input and understanding, teams might become misaligned, leading to confusion and delays in launching product features and fulfilling items on the roadmap.
Once you’ve confirmed your attendees, booked a meeting room (preferably with a whiteboard), and set a date and time, it’s worthwhile spending time creating a product roadmap meeting agenda.
An agenda communicates the reason behind the workshop, removes any uncertainty from stakeholders, and helps to get everyone on the same page.
Workshops should be highly collaborative and used to facilitate open discussion and ideas. For example, product manager Precious Aigbe regularly leads product roadmapping workshops and says that after distributing an agenda, he holds “icebreakers so that teams can feel relaxed and actively ready to participate.”
Precious determines the one key factor in running a successful product roadmap workshop is ensuring that “teams and stakeholders are comfortable enough to tell you when you’re wrong, and you should be able to take this in good faith. The workshop environment should have no hostility and encourage collaboration and teamwork.”
The next step is to communicate and align on goals and vision. Unless you’re a very young company and this is your first-ever workshop, you should have previous roadmaps to refer back to and a solid list of company goals that you’re working toward. Now is the time to review them and ask yourself:
This conversation will need to involve input from all departments and stakeholders, so allow teams to share updates and insights candidly.
Now for the fun part! Take the bullet points you discussed above, and you can start to workshop and brainstorm your product roadmap.
Naomi West, product marketing manager at Parcel, says that her product roadmap workshops usually “end up being a pretty large whiteboard exercise… where we create a full roadmap with tasks, descriptions, timelines, and a backlog. We work in an agile framework, so things often get shifted around and/or completed quickly.”
Precious likes to focus on workshopping additional areas, including “release schedule, user stories, feature mapping, metrics, and a proposed timeline for completion.”
He says that “once the team is clear on the vision and strategy of the roadmap, the information is put into the product backlog to be broken into epics, and we map stories based on the information we have. Then, features are crafted based on stories, which are prioritized by the team. This clarifies what features need to be worked on immediately and tasks are effectively categorized.”
The roadmap that you decide to create could be entirely different depending on your business, its vision, and product strategy. There’s no one-size fits all approach to product roadmapping, so take the time to figure out what works best for you and the company.
Once you’re confident that stakeholders understand the product roadmap and all questions have been answered, distribute the roadmap to relevant teams. This should include:
Depending on your business, product roadmaps might be distributed via Notion, Google Drive, a slide deck, or a tool like Launchnotes.
A product roadmap workshop is led by a product manager and includes key stakeholders from engineering, marketing, and executive teams.
You should run a product roadmapping workshop as often as you need. However, most businesses run these sessions quarterly.
Your product roadmapping workshop could run from an hour to a whole day. The length of your roadmap session will depend entirely on your business goals and vision.
A product roadmap and a Gantt chart are similar. However, a roadmap is a strategic plan communicating your vision and goals, whereas a Gantt chart is a detailed schedule of tasks. In agile management, Gantt charts are viewed as too restrictive and stifle flexibility.
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