A visual tool for communicating a company’s high-level product strategy is a product roadmap. Product roadmaps frequently demonstrate how a product will develop over time and can include upcoming features as well as technical considerations, depending on the kind of organization. Roadmaps convey the goal of what a plan will accomplish in terms of customer and business outcomes over time.
An example of product roadmap also serves as a tool for coordination: Stakeholders and team members receive the information they require to concentrate on their objectives and priorities. All of the moving parts that help product teams coordinate their efforts, such as the allocation of scope and resources, as well as the reasons behind those decisions, are made visible in roadmaps.
What is a product roadmap and why is it important?
A few goals are aided by product managers establishing a positive product roadmapping culture and process within their organization:
- Product strategy alignment and enthusiasm A product roadmap is the ideal tool for spreading product strategy literacy throughout your organization.
- Stakeholder confidence in the company’s progress is bolstered by a well-designed product roadmap, which provides visibility into what is occurring, changing, or progressing within the strategy.
- Collaboration across functional lines of work and clarity about priorities Having a product roadmap encourages teams to prioritize the problems that can be solved with the resources at their disposal.
- Communication on a regular basis These ongoing discussions—about the why, how, and who of the work that needs to be done—create a culture of alignment and a profound comprehension of the product’s vision and direction.
What should be planned for the roadmap? Set goals for a short period of time. Product managers rarely know what will happen in a year, such as changes in the market or the discovery of new user needs. Therefore, it makes no sense to plan for a timeline of one year. For the month and quarter, you only need the details of who, what, and how to work toward achieving one or two high-level objectives (even that time frame can be a stretch for agile teams and startups!).
How do you decide what the quarterly product goals should be? It all begins with the product vision, regardless of where you are in the lifecycle of your business—whether you’re a scrappy 20-person start-up or a 2,000-person enterprise with multiple product portfolios. Roman Pichler describes it as: the reason behind the product’s creation.” Your product’s distinctive positioning should guide everything you do.
- Move on to the problem discovery phase when you have a product strategy based on measuring and improving metrics related to your business’s goals and the problems that can be solved.
What user issues can you address to influence the metrics you defined? Look for issues that will have the greatest impact on the company’s objectives.
Comments from customers: Talk to your customers often. This cannot be emphasized enough! Although feature requests from sales and CS/CX messages are useful, a product manager must actively participate in user conversations. Look for issues that might be resolved within the time frame you’ve set for the roadmap.
Any advice? To conceptualize and segment your understanding of the problems and needs of customers, make use of a model like Ash Maurya’s lean canvas) or the Jobs to be done framework.
Data on usage: How are your customers using the features and products of your company? Look for the behavior’s common patterns, obstacles, and issues that could be fixed.
Competitive analysis of a product: You can get a better idea of where your product stands in the market by experiencing the products of your rivals. Analyze the experiences thoroughly, measure them, and compare them to your product.
During the planning phase of the product roadmap, it is essential to conduct in-depth research and identify problems in order to identify issues that you will commit to solving over time. During alignment discussions, you will use this research as evidence to support your position that particular initiatives and features should be included on the roadmap.
- Align your product roadmap planning with your internal teams and stakeholders from the beginning to the end.
During the process of planning the product roadmap, customer-facing teams are important points of contact for product managers. The majority of product managers lack the time to conduct ongoing, comprehensive user research, and more than 70% of respondents to the Pragmatic Institute’s 2019 survey stated that they spend less than five hours a month processing customer feedback.
During the planning phase of the product roadmap, what can you do to strengthen relationships with your teams? Be curious about the opinions of customers and teams that interact with customers throughout your conversations.
Use questions like these to guide conversations with your customer-facing team:
What issues do you consider to be urgent? Can you explain to me why you think that way?
What evidence do you use to support that?
What do you think will happen if you act on this feedback or don’t?
- Define success metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the initiatives in the product roadmap. What is the most effective method for quantifying the impact of achieving goals and solving problems over time? Make sure your roadmap is linked to clearly defined key performance indicators (KPIs). The responses to the following questions ought to serve as examples for or basis for your roadmap:
What effect will we have in the long run?
How will we determine whether this impact was achieved?
How will the progress of this impact be updated and communicated?
Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, are a well-liked strategy that aid product teams in addressing these concerns. Because they break down a grand vision into manageable goals, OKRs are an excellent framework for setting goals.
The OKR’s goals are motivating, time-bound, and actionable. Key results, on the other hand, turn the qualitative aspect of goals into milestones that can be measured. For instance:
By the end of February, mobile average weekly sessions will triple. Key Results:
KR1: Test every mobile function KR2: KR3: Cut down on loading time by 40% Include a brand-new integration in mobile version 5. Prioritize the product roadmap with the help of a prioritization framework during the planning phase. First, ask the following questions: Which initiatives will have the greatest effect? What is the most pressing issue that must be resolved? How much time, effort, and technology do we use? After that, proceed to quantifying those responses in order to establish priorities.
Free book alert: We wrote a whole book about the process of prioritizing and the best frameworks for adapting to the needs of your business. Find it here.
We like two weighted-score approaches:
RICE. Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort (RICE) It is a straightforward weighted score method for determining the potential worth of projects, ideas for features, and initiatives. Product managers can use a RICE score to estimate the estimated value of a feature or project idea, making it easier to sort them when deciding in which order they should be worked on. We were shown how to make the most of RICE prioritization, which was developed with Sean McBride while he was a PM at Intercom.
Value versus Work Comparing an idea’s value to its effort is a well-liked and simple method for determining which ones to prioritize. Product managers or teams can easily and quickly make decisions by using a standard ranking scale of one to five. Take a look at our breakdown of the elements that define effort and value.
Roadmunk has templates for RICE and value vs. effort that you can use to start coming up with high-impact ideas. Try it out here.
graphic roadmap planning How to create a product roadmap Formats for maps There are three main types of maps.
The product roadmap for no-dates: This is more adaptable than a timeline-based roadmap. Companies whose priorities are constantly shifting can benefit from them. This typically occurs when you are frequently processing new information and your product is still in its early stages.
roadmap for the product The hybrid product roadmap: Dates are included in this kind of product roadmap, but not hard dates. A company might, for instance, develop a quarterly or monthly product roadmap. You can plan for the future while maintaining flexibility with this kind of roadmap.
Plotted by month, these items are labeled as either Current, Near-Term, or Future. You can create a loose projection that is helpful but not restrictive by time-boxing projects by month.
product Roadmap The product roadmap’s timeline: Until you are juggling multiple departments, dependencies, and deadlines, a complex timeline product roadmap is neither helpful nor necessary.
The many moving parts that need to work together to ensure the success of a product are organized visually in a timeline product roadmap. Since some departments must plan at least a year in advance, they also demonstrate the product’s long-term vision.