Product development involves smooth collaboration and communication between the internal and external teams to build a quality deliverable. To attain this, you need a plan that includes proper directions and strategies explicitly mentioned so that the product is built according to the organization’s objectives and every team member has clarity on the same. In the absence of a detailed product roadmap, the product development team will fail to create a product of supreme quality.
A product roadmap is a document that directs you through the vision and execution of product development. It is a continuous process which adapts to the requirements of the client and new functionalities requested by them. With the inclusion of general stages of product development, it is your go-to guide to understand the procedures incorporated to implement the product’s lifecycle.
Benefits of a Product Roadmap
By articulating a proper product roadmap, you create less room for ambiguity. Along with this, it covers several aspects, which proves beneficial to you while building a product. Some of them are as follows:
Holistic view of the organizational objectives and how it is tied with the product
Complete understanding of the investment required by resources to meet the expectations with respect to product features and functionality
Perspective about prospects and the way forward
Mechanism to establish priority among the units of development
A common platform spread across teams for effective communication
Components of a Roadmap
Every roadmap has certain elements that define its purpose that can change according to the audience it is targeted to. However, few elements common to it are as follows:
Under this, you mention the nature of your product. It could be anything from a software, hardware to a service or an idea. Note down its attributes which include benefits, features and functions.
This section includes details about the future of your product. Keep in mind the current scenario and your company goals while you draft the product prospects.
These are tangible milestones to be achieved in your product development journey. Goals are your success metrics which define the level of accomplishment you have achieved with respect to product development.
Emphasize on the high-level efforts you will undertake to meet your defined goals in the roadmap.
When a new functionality is launched, it is termed as a release. It is usually a combination of multiple features that get delivered simultaneously.
Mention an approximate time by when you will execute the goals written in the roadmap.
This serves one of the most useful aspects of product roadmaps which is keeping a track of your development progress. You get a fair idea on your current state and the further steps to be taken to ensure everything is being implemented according to the planned timelines.
Creation of a Product Roadmap
As a product roadmap differs as per the audience, it is essential to follow standard procedures and have a baseline while creating one.
A well-defined strategy is a must
Product managers and the product development team must be absolutely confident and clear about the end objective of the product.
In order to do this, get your fundamentals right as to who are your customers, what do they want and what can you offer. Involve everyone involved in the development of your product, from stakeholders to customers to your team to ensure everyone shares the same ideology towards the product. With a thorough understanding of the product and your company’s vision, you are ready to prepare a roadmap.
Know who your audience is
As discussed earlier, one type of roadmap cannot cater to everybody. Hence, identifying your audience and their needs is of prime importance while developing a product roadmap. The content to be included depends on your audience. For example, your marketing team doesn’t need to know the features of the product, but the engineering team will be interested. The finance department will have different expectations from the roadmap as compared to the human resources department. The sales team would be interested in the new functionalities so as to keep their customers informed. Once you are clear about your audience, you will have a fair idea about the content to be included.
Prioritize releases and features
As a product development manager, you will have to take decisions about the releases and features to be included in the roadmap. As far as release details are concerned, based on the group of people you are sharing them with, you can choose which details to be shown. For instance, customers would be interested in features on a superficial level and which are relevant to them. On the other hand, stakeholders would like to know the strategy behind that particular release and the gains from it. While prioritizing features to be included in the roadmap, consider the impact on customer requirements over your objectives and you will have an ideal set of features to be a part of your plan.
Types of Product Roadmaps
With diverse nature of information, audience and purpose, there are multiple categories and formats of roadmaps available. You can choose from the plethora of roadmap templates that suit your requirements and product.
Few of them are as follows:
Sales team roadmaps
Suited for the sales team who is highly interested in the product’s functionality and features.
Shared among customers, usually with no specific details about the internal processes and emphasis on benefits for them.
Apt for the IT teams to understand technological requirements.
To prepare these types of roadmaps, the following formats are commonly used:
Goal-oriented format: Simple goal-oriented statements explaining the need for every feature.
Theme-based format: Similar to goals, but infuses multiple goals simultaneously.
Feature-based format: Focus is on one feature and the entire roadmap revolves around it.
As important as it is to create a roadmap, it could turn out to be a tedious task since you need a comprehensive approach during the process. In the best interest of your time and efforts, we have developed a sample Product Development Roadmap template which you can customize and use.