Product roadmap: How to best design it

product roadmap

The roadmap of a product is actually more than an unimportant detail to which you do not pay much attention. A few simple reflections are enough to change your mind quickly.

It is well known that rapidly evolving technology requires companies to innovate more rapidly and to introduce new products to the market even faster.

But good ideas do not always guarantee good products and development teams are often hindered by delayed decisions.

A product roadmap can therefore help you avoid these problems and create a market plan oriented to the future.

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap offers a broad overview of all aspects of a product: goals, timeline, features, resources, etc.

The roadmap indicates, in essence, what a development team is building, the problem that technology or software will solve and the business goals that the new product will reach.

But an effective roadmap will also act as a project management tool in two main ways:

  • is a strategic tool thanks to which it is possible to achieve long-term goals and approximate times for the product,
  • can improve communication by providing a place where more interested parties can evaluate the product’s objectives and the progress achieved.

Product roadmaps provide internal teams and other stakeholders,  information on the current status of a product.

Moreover, the roadmap should also establish clear expectations about how the product will develop in the following months.

The person responsible for creating the product roadmap should take into consideration existing technological trends, market conditions, engineering constraints, and the organization’s value proposition.
the product roadmap

How to create a product roadmap in 5 steps

Now let’s look at the 5 key steps to create a product roadmap.

1. Define the product strategy

A product strategy creates the general framework in which the creation of the product will move.

For example, in order to enable the organization to invest in product development, stakeholders expect answers to questions like:

  • Which customers will use the product?
  • What problems will it solve?
  • What business goals will be pursued?

We also recommend that you include the main differences that distinguish this from other similar products already present on the market.

2. Collect the requirements

There are three main groups from which information can be gathered to define the requirements:

  • Speak directly with the sales and customer support team. These departments know first-hand what the needs of the outside world are and probably have customer feedbacks that can help to prioritize new features. Moreover, their intuition can provide ideas on what to consider for future product versions.
  • Interact directly with the product user community, so valuable information can be obtained from enthusiasts and experts who already spend much time using the product.
  • Finally, there is direct knowledge of the product. Undoubtedly, the project manager has a deep knowledge of the functionality of the product, its characteristics, and its limits. The project manager can therefore think which components are most vital to customers. Once identified, he can concentrate on solutions to improve any weaknesses.

3. Allocate a large amount of time to the initiatives

The level of detail of the roadmap must leave room for innovation and agile responsiveness.

Setting strict deadlines could lead to promising a result that it is impossible to maintain.

Therefore, instead of indicating specific dates, many product managers choose to track initiatives on a monthly or quarterly basis. Alternatively, you can choose to completely omit the dates.

4. Customize the roadmap for interested parties

The success of a product depends on the participation of other internal teams and stakeholders as well.

To have more chances to persuade the interested parties, a solution is the personalization of the roadmap, therefore presenting details for every particular interest.

Here are some common internal stakeholders and the information they generally want in a product roadmap:

  • Company executives: all the elements outlined in the product strategy, as well as all the data relating to the size of the market.
  • Marketing Department: product features, comparison between the product and similar products on the market, and product potential to generate sales.
  • Sales Department: release dates and specifications on the benefits that the product offers to customers.

5. Share the product roadmap

Sharing the roadmap has several advantages. In addition to encouraging the involvement of the team and obtaining the support of the top management, the roadmap communicates all the progress that has been made and sets the expectations for the subsequent phases.

Ultimately, the product roadmap will help developers create the best possible product.

To manage and share a product roadmap, there are several project management softwares that allow you to do it. TWproject is one of them and you can try it for free by clicking here.

You will realize how simple it is to manage everything from a single platform. From adding data to managing deadlines, from changing an activity to sharing it with all stakeholders.

Still in doubt? Well you can try yourself with a free demo.

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