When used properly, a product roadmap can be a powerful tool letting product managers not simply describe the overall strategy depicting key goals, direction, and progress, but also keep all team members aligned and aware of upcoming work, what is planned to be done, and initiatives that are currently in progress.
A roadmap highlights either long or short-term goals as well as ways to achieve them. Additionally, all members can use it to track development expectations within a given timeframe.
Why Use a Product Roadmap?
When everyone knows what he or she is working on and what to expect in the context of development periods, the process becomes more transparent and easy to manage. Having a roadmap, teams can:
- Agree on the goals, key outcomes and dependencies required to achieve them.
- Depict the complete picture of the development workflow not only to the product manager but also to the rest of the organisation including all stakeholders involved in the process.
- Maintain a shared understanding of what everyone is working on.
- Align all team members and keep stakeholders engaged sharing the common vision of how the product should be delivered.
- Establish communication between the leadership and execution, ensure prompt communication, and translate progress status from issue tracking and project management systems into a high-level view oriented around clear goals.
What Happens without a Product Roadmap?
It’s impossible to have predictable delivery process without a product roadmap. None of the teams will know what they are supposed to work on and what the desired outcomes are. Only with a product roadmap plotted correctly, it will be easy to align execution and make sure all stakeholders share the common product vision along with strategic goals and value the product is supposed to deliver to the end-user.
How to Create a Product Roadmap
A good product roadmap usually includes few elements and helps communicate following items:
1. Defining Goals and Desired Outcomes
At this stage, it is necessary to clarify the following:
- Business outcomes the team is targeting to achieve;
2. Defining Sequence
Some of the most critical questions product roadmaps help answer are:
- “What are working on right now?” and “How far along are we with this work-in-progress item?”
- “When do we plan to work on X?” - in my experience this is one the most frequent questions from business?
- “If we swap this item on a roadmap - what would it affect?” - helping business give a clear answer on this specific item prevents so many “top priority / all hands on deck” initiatives when people see what other effects on a roadmap it will have
3. Align team and stakeholders on a Product Roadmap
Introduce the roadmap to all stakeholders and make sure they all agree on the goals and sequence in a roadmap. Use this as an opportunity to reiterate on high-level goals that team is working on
4. Share a Product Roadmap
Always keep your roadmap up-to-date and make sure all teammates can access it whenever needed and use it to receive prompt high-level updates on the progress.
The List of 15 Public Roadmaps that Can Help
The good news is that you do not have to learn how to create a product roadmap from scratch. Instead, you can use the example of some public roadmaps that are free to explore. You can adopt any of the following and apply it to your team. Just make sure it will correspond to goals and strategies from the list above.
Buffer Product Roadmap
The team uses trello to create boards that provide a clear overview of what each team is working on or about to work on. To achieve alignment, the roadmap consists of 4 major lanes:
- Exploring – a list of ideas that have not been committed yet but are of great interest.
- In Progress – processes that are currently under construction.
- Done – completed improvements and tasks.
- Leaving it for Now – ideas that have been explored but that are of no prior interest.
ProdCamp Product Roadmap
A simple product roadmap that depicts the way teams are working on the upcoming features. The 3 main lanes involve:
- In Progress – tasks under execution.
- Soon – events that are about to be completed.
- Future – improvements that are left for the future.
As you can see, the roadmap does not have the lane with completed roadmap items although it has the Give Feedback section.
Microsoft-365 Product Roadmap
The team uses an in-house roadmap depicting processes that are In Development right now as well as Rolling Out and Launched features. Additionally, the roadmap is easy to share via a link. Besides, each team member can download it or view it through the RSS feed. The filtering system makes it possible to sort out events by date, platform type, phase, and other parameters.
GitHub Product Roadmap
GitHub uses product roadmap with all services, features, and products organized on a quarterly basis. Such an approach makes it possible to set specific timeframes and expectations when a product is supposed to roll out. The system sends notifications every time a change has been made keeping all team members informed.
Space Product Roadmap
Another example of how a roadmap can be organized considering specific tasks processed by priority. The workflow involves three major lanes highlighting services that are in process as well as those that are supposed to appear soon enough (the highest priority) and products left for the future (secondary priority).
Combin Product Roadmap
The Combin team uses a roadmap with tags that which section a specific feature or service applies to. Using the menu, members can sort modules by task, user, stats, schedules, and other filters.
UpFeed Product Roadmap
A simple yet transparent product roadmap clearly depicts:
- Planned actions to take in the near future.
- Tasks in Progress showing what the team is currently working on.
- Completed tasks.
All actions are marked with a date tag making it easy to plan time for the new feature or track the completion date.
Slack Product Roadmap
The slack team utilized different timeframes to divide the development process by term priorities within the roadmap. Each new plan is adjusted considering the feedback they generate. They rely on users’ opinions on what ideas are missing and require to be implemented within the Near, Mid, or Long Term. Also this is a perfect example of a roadmap organized around specific goal, for example - control notifications.
ProdPad Product Roadmap
This particular product roadmap comes with detailed insights and descriptions of what is going on. Such transparency ensures a deep understanding of each process, why it is needed, and how to complete it. Besides, users can explore what has been done, what is coming, and what the team is working on at the moment.
Zepel Product Roadmap
Zepel uses simple roadmap that depicts all the latest updates that have already been completed are currently in progress, or about to be implemented.
Pulumi Product Roadmap
An example of an in-depth and detailed product roadmap with processes featuring specific tags making them easy to sort out and navigate across the team. All tasks are arranged on a quarterly basis along with the section for goals with no scheduled delivery.
Rounded Product Roadmap
The Rounded team a straightforward roadmap letting users decide on what features are to be added further. Here they have the following lanes:
- Potential – users can share their thoughts on prior improvements.
- Next Up – services and products the team is about to develop.
- In Progress – a list of tasks team members are currently working on.
- Done & Done! – the list of features that have already been released and can be accessed live.
AtomChat Product Roadmap
A lively roadmap with comments links to card actions, and covers for each card to make them easy to identify and navigate using specific filters or structural tags (Mobile, Infrastructure, and Ecosystem).
Ftrack Product Roadmap
The Ftrack roadmap depicts a set of features collected by the Ftrack team with their target audience in mind. The roadmap is divided into 4 major sections involving services under consideration, planned features, already released products, and products available in beta version.
Atlassian Product Roadmap
An easy-to-navigate Atlassian roadmap depicts product development in detail. Here we have an in-depth search tool to filter each service by category, product type, or roadmap updates. Additionally, each card comes with a tag identifying the development phase (in the works, shipped, coming soon, future). Users can easily browse through all quarterly updates as well as review the latest updates and services to be rolled out.
These examples above show how a product roadmap depicts not only the results of the development process but also users’ expectations, stakeholders’ engagement and awareness, cross-team alignment, and a common understanding of what is going on and how to deliver maximum value to the target audience.
A product roadmap is only one of many crucial parts of every big project. Sometimes, it is hard to keep track of everything and Tech Atlas helps me put things together having a road map closely connected with other topics I describe in playbooks.