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Sunday, June 4, 2023
What is a product roadmap and why do you need it?
Imagine hiking through the shores of Iceland without a map (or navigation). You know where you've started and where you need to get by the end of your trip. There is a high chance that you will get lost or it will take extra time and effort to get to the finish.
The same goes for developing your product without a roadmap. A product roadmap is a visual representation of how your product will evolve over time. The roadmap outlines your major product milestones, features, and deadlines.
In this article, we will look into what is product roadmap and why it is an important part of your product. We will also look into how to build a good product roadmap - all for your to get started.
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a high-level overview of your product strategy in a visual format. The roadmap outlines your product vision, goals, features, and milestones you need to achieve. It helps you to get your product to the market and meet the market fit.
A product roadmap is an ever-green document that gets regular updates to reflect any changes in the market, meet customer needs (customer feedback), and satisfy shareholders.
Product roadmaps come in different formats, from swimlanes to timelines and Gantt charts. All major product management software has inbuilt roadmap management. A good example is Jira with its roadmap view.
The product roadmap is an essential tool for product managers, product owners, and stakeholders. It provides a shared understanding of the product vision, goals, and priorities. It helps to align everyone on the same and reduces potential confusion or misunderstanding. Without a roadmap, there is a high chance that different parties have different expectations and even strategies.
The product roadmap helps to manage expectations and communicate progress to stakeholders. Moreover, technology companies often have their product roadmap available publicly for their customers to know what to expect. It helps companies build closer relationships with their customers and collect feedback.
Why do you need a product roadmap?
Developing a product without a roadmap is like traveling to your destination without a map or navigation (and understanding how to get there). You might reach your destination, but it will take much longer and you risk making tons of mistakes along the way.
A product roadmap provides a clear direction and helps you to navigate your product development process. You are more efficient and organized with a product roadmap.
Here are some reasons why businesses need a product roadmap:
A product roadmap provides a clear direction for your product development. It outlines the product vision, goals, and milestones. It helps everyone within the organization to be on the same page and reduce confusion.
A product roadmap helps stakeholders understand the process and manage expectations. For product managers, product roadmaps help to communicate their goals with stakeholders more efficiently.
A product roadmap improves collaboration between teams and departments. It provides a shared understanding of the product and its goals. It helps to align everyone and reduces misunderstandings. For teams and individuals, product roadmaps help to see what to expect next and do their work with scalability in mind.
A product roadmap helps to prioritize features based on business goals, market trends, and customer needs. It helps to identify the most important (and critical) features for product success in the first place. A product roadmap can tell you what you should work on next and what features or initiatives can wait. With a product roadmap, the product development team stays focused on the most important features.
How to create a product roadmap?
Creating a product roadmap is a collaborative process that involves the product manager, developers, and other stakeholders. It is an iterative process owned by the product manager and should be repeated on a regular basis.
Experts suggest that product roadmaps should be revised constantly with major changes applied every 3 months to a year depending on the market dynamics and maturity of your product.
Here are the steps you should follow when creating a product roadmap:
Define product vision and goals
The first step in creating a product roadmap is to define the vision and goals. The vision is a high-level statement to describe what your product is and why it exists. The goals are the measurable objectives that you need to achieve to fulfill the product vision.
Identify the features and milestones
The next step is to identify the features and milestones that need to be achieved. All features and milestones are directly related to the vision and goals.
Features are functionalities that the product will provide while milestones are major events or achievements (ex. initial launch, release, etc.). In addition, features can often be grouped into epics which are larger functionalities. Many companies use epics as a basis for their roadmaps.
The next step is to prioritize the features (and epics) based on customer needs, market trends, and business goals. This stage will help you to identify the most critical features that need to be addressed in the first place. Prioritization will also help you to avoid what is called the “feature trap” where your product success is artificially linked to the number of features you release.
For prioritization, you can use different frameworks, like ICE (Impact, Confidence, Effort), that will help you to remove the “gut feeling”.
Create the product roadmap
The final step is to create the roadmap. You can use the Gantt chart, timelines, and swimlanes to visualize your product roadmap. Choose the format that fits you best and is easy to understand for your stakeholders.
Make sure to keep your product roadmap updated. Make changes to the roadmap whenever you have new input from stakeholders, customers feedback, or the market. Your product roadmap is an ever-green document that can be accessed at any time.
Ensure that people within your organization know how to access your product roadmap. Consider making your product roadmap public to build closer relationships with customers.
A product roadmap is an essential document (map) that businesses should have if they want to build successful products. Owned by the product manager, a product roadmap is an ever-green document that tells how you need to develop your product in order to achieve your goals.
A good product roadmap reflects on three essential sources for your product - the market, stakeholders, and customers. It helps businesses to prioritize their work in order to become more efficient.
While a product roadmap may be hard to develop in the first place, it brings lots of value to your business and removes obstacles down the road. The product roadmap is an essential part of the product design process and is present through all product lifecycle.
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