If you’re a Product Manager, soon after the current working feature reaches production, you would probably get pinged by anyone around your organization, majorly your marketing, sales, and success teams asking,
- What’s our next release?
- Why are we building this feature?
- What is the plan?
And yes, sometimes it can be daunting to answer all these questions.
To manage all these questions, it is always a better option to build a product roadmap that collaborates with the product plan. Now, your whole company would know the next steps quickly. Purposeful product roadmaps can take some time to develop, but they also provide stakeholders on various teams the knowledge they need, and this boosts your product leadership.
Creating a roadmap that will help your organization to work around your product vision and strategy is essential. Providing the pieces of information that each function wants also connects to greater-level objectives.
Frequently, organizations will go about creating a product roadmap the incorrect way. They’ll look only at catching the deadlines than all others, which leads to pressure on the team. Some organizations create a roadmap and update it once in a blue moon and then never look back.
When I got a chance to research in-depth about roadmaps, surprisingly, I found most roadmaps didn’t mention the reason behind what and why they are building that particular feature. They cut off from the product strategy, and there was a mess on deciding their goals or themes.
Then you may ask how the roadmap should be? The perfect roadmaps should be a product of communication and contain the insights of many stakeholders and product teams. They should always be updated and active, not single-time documents that are outdated once you click the save button. And of course, they should provide some information about the outcomes your organization aims to achieve, not just outputs.
In this article, we are going to cover the four examples of roadmaps that inspire me. This guide will help you to create one for yourself. Let’s have a quick look into the synopsis before we dive briefly under each topic:
- Crucial parts of a product roadmap that you should never miss
- The necessity of structuring your roadmap to the correct audience
- Four examples of ideal product roadmaps that will inspire you
- Getting towards your destination.
Crucial parts of a product roadmap that you should never miss
Your product roadmap should clearly express your product strategy so everyone who comes across your product, including the audience with unique needs, can easily understand your roadmap. Before getting deep into specifics, always keep in mind what works for you and your organization. That’s why I still prefer suggesting every product manager talk to everyone across the product teams and make sure there is no mess to present this information.
I know to keep on thinking about how you approach the product roadmaps can be frustrating. That’s why I have gathered the best roadmap types to guide you and collaborate on the Why and What of your plan to provide correct information for your stakeholders.
Include these three things in your roadmap
It is not necessary to list ETA (specific dates) on your roadmap. But you should showcase the outline and categorize short-term features, mid-term features, and long-term. For example, let say this particular feature will be released this week later or later in March.
The features you’re releasing should be synced to the timeline above. You can prioritize these based on what you’re looking to collaborate with and what tools you use for your project management.
Pro tip: if you’re looking for a guide on prioritizing features, you should check out my recent article about “what to build next.”
Add your goals like what is your product and features solve for your customers? Of course, Your efforts are not forsaken. You’re shifting the needle on your product/business. Only goals can let your organization acknowledge where the product is leading to. It might be your product-specific goals or business goals. For example, your product or feature improves team communication, let it know to everyone include this in your roadmap.
The necessity of structuring your roadmap to the correct audience
There are many varieties of roadmaps that work best for various stakeholders. You can select which views are the perfect support for how you need to collaborate and organize your organization around your product vision.
- Company roadmaps- such as release plan or release timeline roadmaps - provide more information with product teams like marketing and sales teams. These roadmaps permit other teams to set approximate expectations with customers and provide comments and relevant customer feedback.
- Customer-focused roadmaps- such as a release plan or a when the features get released roadmap - which the customers cares about the most. These roadmaps also actively communicate the features are actively building for your product to internal customer support customers such as sales, marketing, etc.
- Leadership roadmaps- such as a release plan roadmap or an objective timeline roadmap - provide higher-level executives and stakeholders with a clear picture of the product team’s work. These high-level roadmaps give quick, useful information about your product direction that anyone can easily understand. They can dive in more in-depth about the market and profit and loss details if needed.
- Delivery-focused roadmaps- such as Kanban, sprint plan, or features timeline roadmap provides the necessary timelines for product teams that need to know the information. Communicate objectives, development phases, and other works to support them. Sort out dependencies and capture risks.
Four examples of ideal product roadmaps that will inspire you
Now, let’s look at some general types of product roadmaps that help you identify which suits you well. At a high-level, you can distinguish between two overall types: column and timeline roadmaps with related examples described.
As we discussed above Kanban roadmap is a delivery-focused roadmap for product development teams. It helps product teams group things into buckets such as what is yet to complete, what is planned, what is in progress, and what is pushed to production.
One of the ideal advantages of a Kanban roadmap is that it permits product teams to collaborate on their near-term plans without devoting to exact dates. You can be more transparent to customers, like showcasing them when you’re working on certain features, and keep your delivery team excited about what you’re building towards.
Sprint plan roadmaps are also delivery-focused road maps and, of course, helpful for sprint planning. Product teams use sprint plans to structure their development teams, with work always to be inactive sync. You can fix your deliveries over multiple sprints and showcase each feature’s efforts. You can utilize this sprint plan as granular as you want. This roadmap is an essential product and development team.
Release plans are the execution-level plan of when the features you’ve decided to do will get released; it showcases the timeframe when you’ll complete. A release plan is an overview of “What is next” ready to get released. It’s significant for fixing milestones with a scope or new versions of your product on a routine release schedule.
Feature timeline roadmap
A Features timeline roadmap is an output-driven roadmap that permits you to fix the time frame for an individual feature. Planning features and tracking progress with a timeline roadmap is significant if you want to get a clear picture of where the work stands towards a milestone. You can trace feature progress against specific deadlines and milestones and organize internally with product development teams on actual dates. You can also allot resources when needed.
Getting towards your destination.
Product roadmaps are crucial for your product success. Developing a great product without a roadmap is like going on a road trip without any clue about your destination. If you're lucky enough, you might find where to go in the middle and catch the right bus, but if not, it is going to be a nightmare. Don’t get diverted by the people who have no idea about where you’re going and what you’re asking for! Instead, sit and create a roadmap to reach the destination. Unlike road trips, product roadmaps are only about the destination, not the journey.