Product roadmapping is necessary to communicate the company’s desired outcomes for the future in terms of product development to its stakeholders.
The ultimate goal of all product managers should be to create an Agile product roadmap that is flexible enough to see through the ever-evolving product.
In this blog post, we’ll help you get started with your product roadmap by providing practical examples of 6 effective product roadmaps.
We’ll also explain the greatest benefits of having a good product roadmap.
So, keep reading.
- A product roadmap is a high-level strategic plan that outlines the vision and direction of the product development process over time.
- A successful product roadmap aligns with the company’s product vision, is adaptable, and is a flexible guideline rather than a strict rule.
- The top 6 product roadmap types include the feature-based roadmap, the Sprint plan roadmap, the now-next-later roadmap, the Kanban roadmap, the objectives roadmap, and the product launch template.
- A product roadmap has several benefits, such as defining the product development strategy and guiding the strategy execution process.
- A product roadmap facilitates alignment with the ongoing plans, helps identify potential problems, and enhances coordination among different teams.
Table of Contents
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a high-level strategic plan that outlines the vision and direction of the product development process over time.
To put it simply — a product roadmap is a map of how a company plans to manage its product strategy.
But nowadays, many companies struggle with creating a product roadmap that is in line with today’s highly dynamic market conditions.
To be successful, a product roadmap should have the following characteristics:
- It is in line with the company’s vision of the product,
- It is adaptable to change according to the current demands of the relevant markets, and
- It is followed as a guideline, not as a strict rule.
There are 6 general elements of a product roadmap that you should include in your roadmap, including:
- Product vision,
- Product goals,
- Time frames,
- Product features, and
- Status markers.
Of course, these elements can be adapted and specified to fit different products and product roadmaps.
6 examples of effective product roadmaps
Depending on the product and the company’s strategy, product roadmaps may greatly differ.
However, there are some general examples of the most effective product roadmaps that can be used for any type of product, especially software products.
The 6 most common types of product roadmaps include the following:
- Feature-based roadmap,
- Sprint plan roadmap,
- Now-next-later roadmap,
- Kanban roadmap,
- Objectives roadmap, and
- Product launch roadmap.
Now, let’s analyze the examples of good roadmaps in more detail.
Example #1: Feature-based roadmap
Feature-based roadmaps are the most popular kind of product roadmaps as they give an overview of your product according to its features. They offer concrete and practical information and using them helps you stay in the loop with specific feature release dates.
For the sake of better organization, you can choose to group features into categories, such as Q1, Q2, and so on.
By prioritizing key feature releases, you’ll keep stakeholders informed of the latest product developments.
As features are an unstable category due to continuing changes in customer demands, our advice is to build a feature roadmap that’s above all flexible.
Using a document with a list of specific features and deadlines for this purpose is a thing of the past due to its inflexibility.
On the other hand, a project management tool such as Plaky allows for the necessary flexibility.
So whenever the demand for certain product features changes — the product feature roadmap may be adapted accordingly.
Example #2: Sprint plan roadmap
As its name suggests, a Sprint plan roadmap is all about Sprints — short, repeating blocks of time within which certain tasks are completed.
Sprints are excellent for breaking down complex projects into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Sprint plan roadmaps focus on delivering the planned features faster and with better quality, as the product team works jointly to finish all necessary tasks.
To make the delivery even shorter, you can consider including several shorter Sprints within your Sprint plan roadmap.
Example #3: Now-next-later roadmap
Now-next-later roadmaps are great for Agile teams working in fast-changing environments, as these types of product roadmaps focus on tasks rather than deadlines.
These roadmaps won their name thanks to the way they handle task prioritizing, which includes categorizing tasks into the following groups:
- Now — for tasks that should be done as soon as possible,
- Next — for tasks next in line after the “Now” tasks are finished, and
- Later — for tasks that should be done eventually.
When compared to the more deadline-focused approaches to product roadmapping, now-next-later roadmaps are more flexible as they take more relative time frames and you’re not bound by dates.
So, if the occurring market changes demand it, you can always move a task from the “Next” field to the “Later” field and focus on more important tasks.
Due to their flexible nature, now-next-later roadmaps are excellent for planning more general and long-term business goals and strategies. Combined with the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria, they are sure to yield positive results.
Example #4: Kanban roadmap
Kanban roadmaps enable product teams to divide tasks into smaller chunks and categorize them into separate task groups, such as:
- Backlog — tasks that need to be completed as soon as possible,
- In progress – tasks currently in progress, or
- Planned – tasks that should be dealt with eventually.
The key trait of Kanban roadmaps is their delivery-focused approach. With product delivery being susceptible to change at all times, Kanban roadmaps allow team members to stay focused on finishing specific tasks, without worrying about the exact dates.
Example #5: Objectives roadmap
The objectives roadmap is a perfect way to go if you aim to present the wider perspective of the planned product activities.
Having an insight into the bigger picture of what’s about to happen next, you’ll keep both the project team and stakeholders aligned with the planned product developments.
You’ll stay on track with task statuses and approximate dates on when a certain feature is planned to be developed or launched, as well as what your company’s general goals are.
Example #6: Product launch roadmap
The product launch roadmap serves for tracking the entire launch process. This roadmap helps product managers coordinate different teams better, from engineering to sales and marketing teams.
Using a pre-made product launch template, such as the one offered by Plaky, can make organizing the entire product launch a lot easier and save you valuable time without having to start the roadmap from scratch.
The product launch roadmap usually includes all the specifics regarding the launch process, such as due dates and assignees.
Why do you need a product roadmap?
A good product roadmap has the following benefits, it:
- Defines your product development strategy,
- Guides the strategy execution process,
- Keeps everyone aligned with the ongoing plans,
- Helps identify potential problems, and
- Allows different teams to coordinate better.
Let’s analyze these benefits in more detail.
Benefit #1: It defines your product development strategy
By visually representing your strategy and how you plan to manage product development, you’ll increase your chances of making the product strategy a successful one.
By having a clear product strategy, you have a direction to follow and a purpose to strive for.
Benefit #2: It guides the strategy execution process
So, in the same way a map helps you not to get lost in an unknown city — a product roadmap helps you reach the desired destination of your product strategy.
Benefit #3: It keeps everyone aligned with the ongoing plans
A good product roadmap serves as a channel for both internal and external communication.
Product roadmapping is not a one-way street where you can just create the roadmap and execute the plans, especially not in an Agile environment.
It’s quite the opposite — you need to have an open dialogue between teams and stakeholders.
This way, you can discuss and prioritize your plans, and gain important feedback on the overall strategy.
With a flexible product roadmap, you’ll be able to steer product development in the right direction — no matter the circumstances.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
To learn more about the importance of communication in project management, check out this blog post:
Benefit #4: It helps identify potential problems
Having a roadmap helps you not go astray during the product development journey.
Having clear routes planned out, you’ll know exactly what task you’re going to do next — which keeps you from taking wrong turns, such as prioritizing unnecessary tasks.
Benefit #5: It allows different teams to coordinate better
Managing a team can get quite complicated, as keeping track of all information on each individual’s tasks and responsibilities can be challenging.
With a product roadmap, you’ll keep every team member on the same page and reduce potential misunderstandings.
How Plaky facilitates building a product roadmap
Whatever your product strategy might be — it’s crucial to have a good roadmap at your disposal. And, in the case of product development, a good roadmap implies a flexible roadmap.
With Plaky’s product roadmap template, you can fill out and customize as much as you want with color-coded status markers and tags. You can make changes on the go and swiftly adapt your plan to the ever-changing market demands.
The Plaky project management tool can provide a clear visual overview of your product plans making your roadmap an Agile product roadmap.
If you want to build your product roadmap easily and increase the transparency of your product vision and strategy, sign up for Plaky’s free account today.