The product roadmap is an important strategic tool, which allows business departments, product owners, and stakeholders to easily align on the direction of a product. In this article, I’ll cover how to create a product roadmap and main steps of the development as well as share tools that will help you in the creation process.
Why you need a roadmap for your product development
A product roadmap illustrates high-level product strategy and illustrates how a product will emerge over time. It conveys the main ideas and progress of the product development to the team members and external stakeholders.
Any roadmap, focused on its audience, has its own characteristics.
- Roadmaps for the development team usually consists of sprints, releases, and features. They are rather short and, as a rule, more ambitious.
- Roadmaps for sellers are focused on combining features and benefits to customers.
- Roadmaps for partners, customers or investors are concentrated on the main benefits of the product for them. Like any document, presented to the external stakeholders, this kind of product roadmap should be visually appealing and understandable.
As a software development company, we at Elligense mostly use Agile software development and releases roadmaps, which help us stay on track, meet deadlines and manage the development team tasks. By the way, if you need help with the planning of features releases, feel free to contact us.
Creating a successful product roadmap
The creation of roadmaps is directly related to the key business objectives. You can determine which features to add to your roadmap only after you clearly understand your business goals, as well as your initiatives in which you are going to invest.
Product roadmaps are supposed to be flexible, not static and abandoned spreadsheets. Your roadmap constantly changes, reflecting where your company and your product are going.
Set goals on your roadmap that are aligned with your vision and product strategy
Your roadmap shouldn’t be just a release plan, a backlog, or Gantt chart of features you want to be released. It should include measurable objectives that will bring you closer to your business goals that are directly in line with your vision and product strategy. After those are defined, you can create a development roadmap with a list of features, based on your strategy.
Key questions you should ask:
- How does this feature/initiative bring us closer to delivering the product strategy?
- Is this feature/initiative pushing us towards achieving the figures in our KPIs and SMART objectives?
- Does this feature/initiative address a core need or problem faced by our users?
Create an Impact Map
Impact mapping is a mind-mapping method that allows teams to plan and visualize the activities that will bring them closer to the goals of the company. It can be used to define the goals of different levels: individual team-level, product level, or business level.
Impact mapping is a team exercise. It allows product development team as well as the stakeholders to understand how their efforts impact the results and outcomes of the whole product. It’s a useful activity for product roadmap planning. It allows everyone to reach a clear vision of the product and business objectives that are needed to improve decisions.
Gather inputs and requirements
Gathering input from your internal and external stakeholders is an opportunity to receive additional insights that quantitative data can’t provide. You should focus on the following main groups to get input and priorities:
- Customer/Client/User needs
- Internal stakeholders (managers, heads of departments, design, development, CS)
- External stakeholders (executives and investors)
A great product roadmap can be designed only by combining unified decisions, goals and strategy-justified objectives coming from each individual team and stakeholder involved in the development of your product. Such a practice allows everyone to connect their daily activities to the company mission.
There will be different roadmaps for each department and stakeholders’ type, which are connected to the global vision of the company.
Use a roadmapping tool to build your product roadmap
In the early days of the startup industry, for creation of product roadmaps, Excel or Powerpoint were used. But today product managers can benefit and enjoy the high-quality tools developed especially for creating roadmaps.
Among the benefits of using roadmapping tools are:
- Your product strategy is presented using a high-level view of your team’s initiatives
- They help you create visually beautiful roadmaps with the help of information design elements
- A product roadmapping software allows you to collaborate with team members
- They allow synching the changes among all the stakeholders and keep everybody updated.
Top 7 Product Roadmap Tools
Our development team prefers Jira for project management. This software also allows creating roadmaps that are connected to tasks and Agile boards.
Product development roadmaps seem to become a mandatory and effective tool for product management. They help manage team schedules, discussions, break down tasks into subtasks, meet deadlines, measure performance and achieve successful results.
The well-designed product roadmap is a powerful strategic tool in product development and growth management.