Creating Effective Product Roadmaps

Estefanía Teixeira

A Product Roadmap expresses a vision. It guides the strategic direction and allows a greater work team focus. At its core, it blends actions and motivations to achieve high-level goals. In this article, we'll go through its definition and relevance for lifecycles. We'll also look at actual cases of product roadmaps. Are you ready? Grab your map, and let's go!

What is a Product Roadmap?

Product roadmaps are vital to set direction and purposes. It gathers essential data such as user demands and a clear view of competitors. The landscape may change fast; hence you'd want to be ahead. It's worth noting it works during a specific period of product development. Yet, depending on your focus, there are two main types of Product Roadmap.

What is an Internal Product Roadmap?

These address internal teams, including developers, sales teams, and Product Managers. Internal Product Roadmaps focus on goal alignment and attention to the product's details.

What is an External Product Roadmap?

External Product Roadmaps aim at users and customers. The attention goes into the product's benefits, usefulness, and user needs. It's vital to keep it real without speculating or overselling.

Who is in charge of Product Roadmap?

The main responsible for designing a Product Roadmap is the Product Manager. They handle the investigation process and idea planning. PMs are also in charge of feedback integration and discussion. The goal is to identify the best roadmap to establish coherent teamwork. Yet, other areas also rely on a product roadmap. Some of these are:

● Sales. The sales team focuses on offering products in engaging ways. They enhance the roadmap's features to create catchy messages and increase revenue.

● Marketing. Roadmaps help marketing teams to have an idea of users' behaviors. This info is vital to know where to put the strategic focus. In turn, they can create campaigns to engage new users.

● Customer Service. This area needs to know the functionalities, improvements, and changes. Customer Service teams handle providing the best info without lowering expectations.

● Leadership. Leaders need to keep track of the product's lifecycle. Also, roadmaps are vital to maintaining a clear view of plans. Likewise, they can decide if it reaches the company's goals and strategy.

Inclusion is vital for planning and alignment. If all fields are well aware of the roadmap, it can lead to impressive joint milestones!

How to Build a Product Roadmap?

What are the Types of Product Roadmap?

There are many types of Product Roadmaps. Yet, all have three general templates

Goal-Based Product Roadmap

Here, the focus is on specific metrics and goals for each product's stage. These go from registration to retention. Product Managers are in charge of assigning different goals.

Feature-Based Product Roadmap

This type of Product Roadmap puts all attention on the outcome of distinct features. Likewise, it doesn't include much info about the other elements. 

Audience-Based Product Roadmap

This point concentrates on the audience's look at the product. Thus, all decision-making is user-based. Here, product engineers need more analysis and technical detail.

What are the Product Roadmap's Components?

Each product needs a specific roadmap. Yet, certain components are part of most of them:

Product. This element includes software, hardware, or services that meet a project's needs. These can be both tangible and intangible. 

Goal. Objectives must relate to measurable objectives. Further, these need to consider time and success metrics. Here, the roadmap helps to show the different achievements. That's ideal for taking all required steps from vision to reality. 

Initiative. Strategic roadmap points show all converged efforts. Completing these is essential for short-term goal achievement.

Release. This stage encloses new features' integration for added value. These releases include new goals and integrated epics at the same time.

Epic. An epic is a user story unable to show in a single release. These are essential to bridge the gap between individual characteristics and strategic initiatives.

Features. These can be unique, new, or improved. Nonetheless, features add value to the product. These elements provide brand-new functionalities.

Story. User stories specify the new functions' value from the user's perspective. 

Timeframes. Roadmaps show dates that define the execution of activities. The scaled time may vary and depends on details.

Status. When measuring progress, roadmaps become a helpful tool. They are indicators of all components mentioned above.

How to Build a Product Roadmap?

The first step for all product roadmaps is to keep it clear. Here, it's necessary to consider certain filters or questions. A great example is diving into what value the product offers for users. Is there evidence of that value? Is there support for its worth and functionality? 

Planning blends critical points such as scalability, cybersecurity, and technical debt. If you don't spend time on these topics, the roadmap will feel like a waste of time with poor planning. No matter what approach you take to make a product roadmap, there's a need for a general pattern. In this context, the general steps to build a Product Roadmap enclose:

  1. Establish Team and Product Goals.
  2. Plan the Goal-Reaching Process.
  3. Create a First-Draft Roadmap.
  4. Research and Ask for Further Feedback.
  5. Gain Leaders' and Stakeholders' Approval.

These steps contain the result of lengthy analysis and deliberation. After setting your goals, all you need is to focus on improvements. A great roadmap can include the benefits of short-term structured earnings. These will meet long-term goals to ensure revenue without extra work.

How to Build a Product Roadmap?

5 Real-Life Product Roadmap Examples

It's a looming truth that roadmaps come in many shapes and sizes. For this reason, you can read the following examples to understand different ones.

● Microsoft. Each feature in the Microsoft Dynamic 365 app has its section within the roadmap.

● Craft CMS. Craft Commerce and Craft CMS have a two-section roadmap for each product. Its features include planned, in progress, and recently shipped columns.

● Prisma. Prisma's Notion roadmap lets you filter its Data Platform and ORM products.

● MUI. GitHub hosts MUI's roadmap. The platform integrates a set of user interface tools. Further, it incorporates the company's main priorities and its responsibility section.

Capicua. We are a Full Cycle Product Development UX-focused company. Our team chooses Atlassian's Jira as a roadmap platform.

How to Ensure a Successful Product Roadmap

The market landscape revolves around constant variants like users' needs. Thus, roadmaps need to show ongoing work and long-term goals. These updates generally roll out every week. In short terms, roadmaps are indispensable planning tools! The idea is to capture documentation as direct as possible. Further, here is some piece of advice to craft a roadmap:

  1. Include details, whether it's an exterior or interior roadmap.
  2. Focus on short-term goals and their link to long-term goals.
  3. Review your documentation, especially when plans take other paths.
  4. Align with your team! Product Roadmaps merge all experts' mindsets.

Final Thoughts

A roadmap leads teams to work connected by reaching a consensus. It highlights a product's efficiency, growth, and transformation. Further, a product roadmap aims to gain context for the daily work and its later direction. So, do you already have a product roadmap?