A product roadmap should be a simple document that everyone in your organization can understand. Take a look at a few examples that typically work well.
- Now you might be wondering, what should a good product roadmap actually look like? Before I show you a roadmap, let me start with two caveats. First, there is no one format that will work perfectly for every organization. Different organizations have a variety of development processes, sales cycles, and decision making processes. For instance, on a small team with an early stage product, a white board photo of a prioritized list of future initiatives might serve as an adequate product roadmap.
While in a large organization with a mature product, you might need a long slide deck with the detailed product strategy and feature breakdowns of each project. Second, and this is extremely important, the format of the document is far less important than the support of key stakeholders. Even the most beautiful product roadmap is worthless if your stakeholders don't really believe in it. The key to building this alignment is the process you go through. Not the final format or even the contents of the product roadmap.
That said, here's a typical product roadmap format that works well in many organizations. You can download it from the exercise files. As you can see, this roadmap uses a graphical layout that can be easily drawn on a slide using software like PowerPoint. The roadmap shows the future time periods along the x-axis at the bottom and the different products along the y-axis on the left. And then plots the upcoming milestones for each product across the grid.
The milestones are typically shown just as text boxes that are positioned at their release date. Or they could be long horizontal bars corresponding to the time period when the Dev team will be working on them. The right edge then is on estimated release date. So let's talk about how this might look in practice. Let's use the example of a digital publishing company with three mature products. A blogging platform, a website authoring tool, and a mobile app authoring tool.
In this example, the x-axis shows the upcoming four quarters, and the y-axis breaks the product into three categories corresponding to the three different products you offer. And there are seven milestones on the grid. Here are some potential variations to this basic format. Depending on your product's maturity and your development process, it may be appropriate to use different time frames such as months, weeks, or even years. And you might choose to base the product categories on something different such as customer segments or strategic initiatives or different platforms you support.
Now let's talk about the milestones on the grid. Remember, the purpose of this document is to allow each of your product stakeholders, including key customers, to coordinate their planning around this product development plan. So each milestone should be a meaningful bundle of new functionality that will have significant impact on your business. The product roadmap is not a complex document. Quite the contrary, you should strive to make it simple and easy for everyone in the organization to understand.
But don't let that simplicity fool you. Creating a roadmap with the right milestones on the right release dates in a way that implements your product strategy and has all stakeholders aligned around it is no mean feat.
This course shows how to build a product roadmap for your business—and gain critical stakeholder buy-in. See examples of what roadmaps might look like, and spend time learning the tools and techniques necessary to map the projects for your specific organization. Instructors Teg Grenager and Eldad Persky help you create strong, dynamic roadmaps that will ensure your team is working on the right projects at the right time.
- What is a product roadmap?
- Roadmaps in agile organizations
- Selecting stakeholders
- Researching customers
- Identifying milestones
- Estimating effort
- Maintaining the roadmap