The product roadmap is the product manager’s preferred strategic communication tool. This roadmap specifies deliverables and expectations for where the product will go and why. To create a product roadmap, product managers collaborate with internal teams and stakeholders.
Today, we will discuss the need of developing a roadmap for product managers to establish alignment and build confidence among stakeholders. A solid product roadmap makes you and your team appear competent in front of your team. We are going to discuss everything related to the product roadmap, and how to build a successful product roadmap.
What Is A Product Roadmap?
A product roadmap, as a visual communication tool, aids in the coordination of a company’s product strategy. If you work for a large corporation, your product plan may include future features as well as technical considerations. Over a certain length of time, customer and corporate outcomes are conveyed via a road map.
It should not go into extensive detail regarding what will be done and when it will be completed. Should remain at the why level rather than the what level. Inspire your teams to create a strategy for achieving that objective, whether that strategy is in the shape of a release plan, a delivery plan, or a project plan.
You may build an internal roadmap or an external roadmap, depending on how the roadmap will be utilised. Here’s the distinction:
- Internal roadmaps might be developed for executives, the development team, or the sales team. The roadmap will focus on certain areas depending on the audience, such as alignment with business goals, product specifics, or consumer advantages.
- External roadmaps are designed for customers and, as such, should focus on the product’s advantages for customers.
Types Of Product Roadmap
A product roadmap may be created in a variety of ways by you and your team. Each form of product roadmap serves a distinct function and should be tailored to your team’s, stakeholders, and consumers’ objectives.
Status-oriented, theme-oriented, and outcome-oriented roadmaps are the three types of roadmaps described below. There are other additional methods for creating and orienting roadmaps, but these three are the most useful in my opinion, particularly for producing alignment.
Status-Oriented Product Roadmap
A status-oriented roadmap helps everyone understand where the team is right now without committing to a specific period. The most significant advantage of this sort of roadmap is its simplicity. It’s divided into three columns based on the current, next, and later state of each delivery. You can easily implement this using product roadmapping software.
It aids with prioritisation, and there is no doubt about what the team is working on at any given time. It also allows for the following and subsequent columns to change. Here’s a rough sketch of how a status-oriented roadmap would look:
- Now1. Whatever the team is concentrating on during the next several sprints.
2. This part should not change and should outline explicit business objectives/problems.
- Now1. Whatever the team is concentrating on during the next several sprints.
- Next1. Whatever the squad should be concentrating on in the coming weeks.
2. This part should be more precisely defined and less likely to change than the “later” section.
- Later1. As you might expect, this is essentially what’s in the icebox right now (typically a few months out, depending on your sprint length).
2. This section may be the most ambiguous and vulnerable to modification.
The fact that this version of a roadmap is basic does not imply that it is unintentional. Each item (usually an epic) on this roadmap should correspond to a higher-level organisational goal or strategic aim (e.g., Increase ARR by 5 per cent).
Another advantage of this form of agile product roadmap creation is that it is simple to implement in almost any tool that your team utilises. The information may be shown anywhere three columns can be created.
Theme-Oriented Product Roadmap
Topic-oriented roadmaps are a technique to express the value that will be given to users without specifying what the team will produce inside that theme. Keeping a roadmap at this level is especially beneficial for stakeholders and teams to align on the product’s direction and vision without diving too far into the weeds.
These product roadmaps can be made using product roadmap software. This type of product roadmap keeps the team focused on tackling the bigger challenge at hand, and whenever anything else comes up, it’s simple to ask one another if it fits within the current time frame. The majority of the time, theme-oriented product roadmaps are published quarterly.
However, before establishing the themes for advanced roadmaps, it is critical to grasp the product strategy as well as the general short-term and long-term goals that must be pursued. When developing the product roadmap, your themes should be consistent with the organization’s broader strategic plan.
Once your stakeholders have agreed on those themes, you and your team may nest epics beneath them. ‘Water Schedule UX Improvements,’ for example, might be an epic within the ‘enhance the plant care experience’ topic. The nesting of epics beneath a theme helps the product team to have a better grasp of how the work relates to the organization’s wider business goals.
Outcome-Oriented Product Roadmap
A theme-oriented approach is quite similar to an outcome-oriented plan. Where it differs is at the most basic level; a consequence. An outcome is defined as “anything that happens as a result or as a result of something else.” By deciding on the results you and the team will strive for, you give the team complete control over defining the solution of a strategic product roadmap.
Most roadmaps we see these days have a major issue with defining the solution before the problem. Instead, turning it on its head will not only create a better atmosphere for your team but will also keep stakeholders pleased. The majority of stakeholders are unconcerned about a certain feature you are working on developing.
Instead, they want to know what challenges the team is attempting to tackle. For example, one objective that a product team may be striving to achieve could be, “Improve our day-7 app retention rate by 10%.” The team is then responsible for determining how to make it happen and defining the task to be done.
This method genuinely collects alignment across the board (stakeholders, executives, team members), and although it may not always be something you want to share with customers, that’s fine. Most of the time, just brief updates on what’s to come is sufficient. When everyone on the team is on the same page about the end goal, you can avoid having them work on product enhancements that don’t move the needle.
It may also help your team learn faster by instantly identifying when something didn’t work, allowing the team to go further into why whatever was introduced didn’t impact user behaviour.
Importance Of Software Product Roadmap
There is various importance of product road mapping. A few of them are listed below:
Helps In Tactical Judgements
A product roadmap is an excellent tool for developing product strategy literacy throughout your organisation, and it is the ideal tool for demonstrating to your stakeholders that you have a firm grasp of the strategic wheel. Because they have a firm understanding of what is essential, their internal compass will be directed by this high-level vision when making tactical decisions.
Provides Transparent Workflow
A comprehensive product roadmap provides executives and other stakeholders with a clear view of what is happening, changing, or evolving inside the plan. As a consequence, your stakeholders will be pleased with the company’s progress in addressing customer problems that have the most impact on your bottom line.
Helps In Collaborating Teams
Prioritizing items is a challenging task, much like making a strategy. To do this, teams and stakeholders must engage in a constant, collaborative dialogue. Teams are urged to focus on issues that can be handled with the available resources as a consequence of having a product development roadmap.
Provides A Channel Of Communication
These ongoing discussions about why, how, and with whom work is to be done building a culture of alignment and deep understanding of product vision and direction. This can be easily done by using a product roadmap document.
How To Build A Product Roadmap?
When agile product roadmaps are not correctly created, they frequently fail. Whatever technique you use for your plan, there are certain fundamental rules to follow to create a high-quality roadmap.
In general, the procedures to follow while creating an effective product roadmap planning are as follows:
- Recognize the organization’s/objectives.
- Share your objectives with your team.
- Work with your team to discover how your product may assist in achieving those objectives.
- Create a rough plan that connects your team’s approach with the overall aims of the business.
- Request comments from team members.
- Stakeholders should be shown the product roadmap.
As a product manager, your role is to aid in the development of the product roadmap, not to prescribe it to your team. You may begin by ensuring that you have a thorough knowledge of the broad organizational/product goals that are relevant to the product you’re managing. Then, lead many sessions with your team to discover how your product can assist the organization/product in meeting those strategic goals.
Once your team has agreed on a draught roadmap, let it sit for a few days to allow everyone to absorb it. After that time has gone, solicit input from the team once more and make any necessary changes. The roadmap should then be presented to your stakeholders. You’ll be able to deliver with confidence since your team has matched the roadmap with the organization/product goals, which should delight your stakeholders.
Furthermore, by maintaining your product feature 5roadmap at the appropriate degree of abstraction, you avoid delving into excessive detail on individual items that are or are not being handled.
Elements To Include In A Product Roadmap
Many essential aspects should be addressed in your product roadmap and product plan since they must span a long timeline. Product characteristics, as well as vision and strategy, must be highlighted.
Vision For Product
This is essential since it establishes your company’s route to developing a specific product strategy. It is the vision of what is wanted as well as the potential that it possesses. This first vision does not have to be the ultimate one, but it does begin the process of developing a product roadmap, allowing additional planning to proceed. This describes what you want your project’s outcome to be.
Plan Of Action
This is the case that you create for your product. You want internal and external stakeholders to understand the project’s ultimate business purpose. Explain how this product will help the company and fit in with the existing goal. Once these elements are in place, the roadmap is utilised to keep the plan moving ahead and consistent.
You must gather information to describe your requirements. Reach out to user experts to engage with individuals who currently use your products. Following these two groupings, draw on your personal experiences. You understand your product’s functioning, features, and what is important to users.
This is the plan that explains how your company will ensure the product’s goal is realised. It is how the plan will be carried out as the project progresses. Set priorities and precise goals for this timetable. It must be wide enough to allow for creativity and flexibility, but it must also include some basic time targets.
Plan efforts on a quarterly or monthly basis to ensure they are completed on schedule. General dates can be useful, but they should not be set in stone.
These are essential for keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to time. Markers can be moved as required, but displaying where they are placed helps others to check on timeframes as needed.
Ascertain that all teams are aware of the metrics and that everyone is measuring things in the same way. Everyone must communicate in the same language so that there is no confusion about what is being measured.
Things Not To Put In A Product Roadmap
Many items may be appealing to include in your plan, including some that have been requested by your stakeholders and/or consumers. It’s critical that you maintain objectivity, advocate for the product team, and don’t create unrealistic expectations for them. You want your product team to be happy for everyone else to be pleased.
Make it clear early and often that a roadmap is not the same as a timeframe. A product roadmap communicates the product’s strategic direction; it is directed. Mentioning a rough notion of time (e.g., Q1 2021) is OK, but try to avoid giving precise dates. That’s a release strategy, and it occurs after you’ve decided on a release date and a release date.
This eventually provides the team with the space they require to produce the desired results.
Also, don’t be concerned about putting ‘non-value elements in your strategic plan. These items may involve technical debt, DevOps effort, bug patches, and so forth. Hopefully, you’re avoiding a feature roadmap (though there is a time and place for it as well), thus this shouldn’t be an issue.
It should always be anticipated that a portion of your team’s time is spent on non-value features. If one of your goals is to enhance the app’s performance, your team will naturally work on improvements that your consumers will never see (e.g., non-value additions), thus demonstrating what exactly that work is inside your roadmap isn’t necessary.
Reuse An Existing Product Roadmap By Updating
As the competitive environment changes, customer preferences alter, or planned features change, it is critical to ensure that the product roadmap continues to represent the state of current work as well as long-term goals.
A roadmap, as we’ve all discovered at some point, is useless if it isn’t kept up to date. If your roadmap needs to be updated more regularly, your stakeholders will begin phoning you for updates rather than checking your roadmap. These one-time demands show a lack of faith in your plan, as well as a significant potential time suck.
Bring Product Roadmap Into Play For Better Project Idea
A “product roadmap” is a look forward at the product’s future. However, it is not a finished product. To get to this stage, the product plan must be implemented and implemented successfully. This method consists of several critical steps. We must ensure that the product plan and its objectives are properly understood by the teams responsible for making it all work.
Make sure that you are using the elements of the product roadmap precisely for giving a breakthrough to your project.