Importance of a Product Roadmap (With Formats and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organizations and business owners constantly upgrade existing products or release new products to the market to keep up with changing trends and to generate more revenue. A product development roadmap is a tool businesses use to visualize their product plans. With these roadmaps, your team can build consensus on developing a product and gain context for their daily work and future directions. In this article, we review what a product roadmap is, discuss the objectives and importance, explain the different forms and formats, and share popular tips on building a successful roadmap.

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a visual summary that communicates the directions, goals, progress, and expectations of a product over a period of time. It helps organizations outline their goals for development and the steps for achieving these goals. You can use this roadmap to outline product functionality and for the release of new features. Roadmaps serve a variety of audiences and are of several forms.

The primary objectives of a product development roadmap include:

  • provide a guide for the execution of strategies

  • promote teamwork among departments

  • describe the vision and design of a product

  • make discussions and strategy planning easier

  • help communicate with customers and prospects

Forms of roadmaps

The different forms of roadmaps include:

Internal roadmap for the development team

The focus of these roadmaps is on the design, upgrades, and functionality of the product. These roadmaps guide the development team and highlight areas of development that require more work on a timeline plot. The internal roadmap for the development team serves as a guide document for every step of product development. It gives information on the objectives to achieve to take the product from the conceptualization stage to the final production stage.

Internal roadmap for executives

An internal roadmap for executives focuses on the effect of the teams' work on the company's goals and objectives. With these roadmaps, you can show periodic progress over time that results from good teamwork and outline objectives to achieve and maintain progress. These roadmaps include strategic concepts, such as driving growth, new market penetration, customer satisfaction, and market position.

Internal roadmap for sales

Customer benefits and satisfaction can be a deciding factor in the sales of a product. Internal roadmaps for sales guide different teams on goals and objectives to accomplish to meet their customer's requirements. The sales team might want to know how the product would sell more so they may combine the products' elements and customer benefits to achieve this.

External roadmap for customers and prospects

External roadmaps for potential customers and prospects are helpful in gaining positive attention from customers. These roadmaps display the benefits and potentials of the product, highlight its desirable features, and discuss the product's future directions. They're visually appealing and easy to read, and focus on displaying the product's positive traits and features.

Related: Create an Effective Work Plan For a Successful Project (With Template)

What to include on a product development roadmap

There are common aspects to include on the roadmap for your product, they include:

Features

Features define a product and explain the attractive qualities for which a customer would want to purchase it. Examples of a product's features include the design of the product, the shelf life, and the item's capabilities. You can add the product's features on your roadmap to market the product desirable to investors and potential customers. Including these features is necessary because it gives stakeholders a better understanding of the product and might aid their investment decisions.

You can also include features that might attract stakeholders to make investments in your product. For example, an attractive feature on a roadmap of a new design of a faucet could be its automatic on and off features.

Goals

It's essential to include the product's goals on your roadmap. This is to ensure everyone on the team knows what to do to make the product and to achieve the product's goals. These goals guide the production team to build, produce, and sell the item. The guiding goals can be goals for a particular development stage, a test phase, or even roll out. Including goals in your roadmap also helps potential customers and investors view the product's progress and it strengthens their decision on investing in the product.

Releases

Releases provide a sense of time and clarity for customers and prospects. It's useful when the engineering team issues new plans, sets new goals, or makes updates for their product and announces it to investors and the public. The team includes this feature on their roadmap to keep their prospects and audience up to date with the product's development. You can include new features for a product or an update on the product deadline in different releases.

Timelines

A product timeline consists of essential dates regarding the progress of the product. You can include timelines on your roadmap, so your team members know when to complete a task. It also helps stakeholders, customers and prospects know when the product's development could be complete. Examples of dates to include on the timeline can be the date when the prototype would be ready, dates of necessary team meetings, and the date of the product's official release.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Importance of roadmaps

Here is the importance of product roadmapping:

For organizational structure

Product roadmapping provides an outline for organizational leadership and structure. It creates an illustration for the timeline of a team's or company's various deadlines and task durations. It gives project leaders, department supervisors, or managers the ability to delegate and oversee specific tasks regarding product development. Product roadmapping provides an organized outline for products.

For the product developers and team members

Roadmaps are documents developers can present to gain support and popularity among stakeholders. It gives an understanding of the goals and objectives of the company, which allows team members to focus on the most critical tasks and make fast autonomous decisions. Roadmaps offer a coherent plan because it's a tool that provides a company with goals and a timeline to follow. Team members can focus on the timeline to increase their productivity levels while achieving the purposes of the product roadmap.

For product teams

Product roadmapping helps unify teams working on high-impact product enhancements. It allows them to communicate priorities effectively with adjacent teams. Roadmapping fosters teamwork and provides a graphical understanding of how the duties of one department affect the project, other departments, or the company as a whole.

Related: 9 Team-Building Skills and Why They're Important (With Tips)

For stakeholders

Roadmapping helps stakeholders, such as company leaders and investors, understand company plans, assignments, and structures. It allows investors to clearly see how developers plan to make and sell a product. This might increase their likeliness to invest in the development. Roadmaps allow stakeholders to express their ideas and offer feedback to improve the product.

Formats for a roadmap for products

Here are popular formats for roadmapping for products:

Release roadmap

The focus of a release roadmap is on the stages of the product development through its releases, such as news of product updates or newer models. Developers use this format to map out releases and include tasks to do and when to do them. A release roadmap helps different departments know the other teams' goals while marking their own goals.

Portfolio roadmap

Portfolio roadmaps help display releases for multiple products in a single view. They're helpful when you want to provide a strategic overview of your plan to leadership or advisory boards. They help internal teams understand the relationship between their plans and the external teams' plans. This type of roadmap can help increase productivity.

Goals roadmap

A goals roadmap helps you visualize your high-level business or product goals. This roadmap is ideal for sharing strategic goals and the time you hope to achieve them in a single view. It's useful in communicating goals and objectives with the internal team. It's also helpful when you want to provide status updates on your product strategy.

Timeline roadmap

This roadmap consists of the dates the production team hopes to finish the product development. Setting this timeline assists designers in crafting their roadmaps and knowing what tasks to complete at what time and date. Timeline roadmaps are beneficial to products with several parts or departments that contribute to their development.

Hybrid roadmap

A hybrid roadmap is a combination of more than one roadmap format. It can integrate different aspects of roadmaps such as timeline and release roadmaps. A hybrid roadmap can focus on both dates and tasks while maintaining the team's flexibility. It allows different teams to create a roadmap that meets the specific requirements of all their groups, which could help in the product's development.

Tips on creating a successful roadmap

Here are common tips to guide you in drafting a successful roadmap

  • You can consider market trajectories, customer value propositions, strategic goals, and effort constraints while building your roadmap.

  • You can build the items on your roadmap to respond to varying changes in customer feedback and the competitive landscape.

  • While it's common for the roadmap to show what you're building, you can also try to show the reason for the product development.

  • You can try to link the items on your roadmap to your product strategy.

Explore more articles