When you are creating a product, you need to make a plan. That is why you need a product development roadmap. It allows you to visualize the process and organize communication between the development team, stakeholders, and managers.
So, if you want to find out how to create a product roadmap and why you may need it for your startup, our informative article is here to help.
What Is a Product Development Roadmap?
"A product roadmap is about communicating the why. It's about the ultimate destination (the vision) and the major steps that the team intends to take along the way (goals to be reached, problems to be solved)."
— Bruce McCarthy, author of Product Roadmaps Relaunched
A product roadmap is a visual summary that reflects the vision and direction of your product. It's a tool that displays your product plan. It can indicate goals, stages, deadlines, etc. It can be devised, before or after the product launch (in case you want to change it).
The main reason for product roadmap creation is to ensure that everyone involved in the process, has a clear understanding of what the product is about.
It should be flexible to be edited and modified as per need. The roadmap facilitates understanding between the team members and ensures consistency within the software project.
A project manager is responsible for the product roadmap development and should understand its importance. He must ensure the interaction between team members and monitor compliance with deadlines.
The roadmap is often used as a part of the Agile methodology. The finish of each phase is considered as an achievement of a specific goal.
Top Reasons Why a Product Development Roadmap Is Useful
Roadmaps are effective in various business areas for a bunch of reasons:
Keeps the stakeholders informed
As usual, stakeholders include the project owner, project manager, and investors. They participate in product development, promotion, and management. Stakeholders need a product development roadmap to see how your team realizes certain functionality. A good product roadmap allows them to see what's happening, and how the strategy changes. It will make them confident about the process.
Coordinates work between team members
Sometimes, some team members may feel like they work "blindly" and do some kind of functionality outside the big picture. The product development roadmap helps each team member understand what they should do and why. It allows seeing the whole picture.
When the team members have clarity of business goals and the process to achieve them, they can make the right decisions.
1. It helps prioritize tasks
The process of product prioritization is just as complex as road mapping. It requires constant dialogue between stakeholders and the development team. The product development roadmap allows everyone who works on the project to focus on the main tasks.
2. You can easily communicate with your workers and share information
Everyone involved in the project will have a single document where they see the vision, plans, and goals. You can add new information to it and let the entire team know about the changes.
3. It makes it easier to monitor the changes
Your goals and strategy may change under different circumstances. Sometimes, the development team may need to change the direction of development altogether. A product development roadmap helps you stay on the road and achieve your goals. With regular review and evaluation, the team can adapt to new situations and respond to changes.
How To Make a Product Roadmap?
What should be considered in advance?
Before the product roadmap development process begins you need to think about such points:
product implementation strategy
chronology of stages
ways to track and manage the workflow
There are no standards on how to create a product roadmap. You can independently determine the sequence of actions and the form of your roadmap. Let's look at one of the classic approaches:
1. Determine the target audience of your product development roadmap. For managers, your roadmap should include information about deadlines and strategy; stakeholders need to be aware of the benefits they will get from the products; developers need to see the tasks to be completed at each stage.
2. Determine the deadlines, primary goals, team members, and other key elements. Indicate the main task (for example, digitalization of your business) and the time allotted to complete it. You should also set a deadline for each stage. Take care of all the manageable details while developing a product roadmap. Nevertheless, your product roadmap can be as detailed as you need it to be.
3. Choose the form. Since the roadmap helps to coordinate the processes between all workers, it's vital to ensure that it's understandable and accessible. A table format is the most preferred mode of creating the road map. As it is easy to scan information regardless of the number of stages and the complexity.
The choice of the form should depend on how big your project is. To create a simple roadmap, you can use Google Sheets or Excel. You also can design it as a diagram using software such as PowerPoint. However, if you are working on a big, long-term project, it's better to use more convenient online services. Of course, most of them are not pay-free, but they contain all the necessary tools.
4. Coordinate it with the team members. Before you show the result to the stakeholders, you must discuss it with your development team. You must be sure that there are enough resources and opportunities to achieve the main goals.
Other recommendations on how to create a usable product roadmap
To ensure that your roadmap is effective, try to take into account the following recommendations:
Make sure, you and your colleagues have the same vision.
Sometimes, it's a good idea to consider several options for achieving the goal.
Use uniform criteria for evaluating results that are understandable for everyone involved.
Design a product roadmap with a flexible strategy. This way, it will be easier to make changes regularly.
Show the benefits.
If everyone involved in the product creation understands its specifics, there is no reason to make the map as accurate as possible.
Services For Product Roadmap Creation
Fortunately, many services can help you develop a visual document. We have gathered those of them that will work great for beginners. Many of these services are subscription-based but offer some features for free and allow trying the free version.
This service is used by Coca-Cola, Adobe, and HubSpot. A monthly subscription starts from $39; there is also a free 14-day period. It contains numerous templates and themes suitable for different purposes. The users can also upload Excel spreadsheets, export files to other formats, etc.
This road mapping tool is suitable for teams of any size. It makes it easy to plan, track, and manage the product development process. It is used by PayPal, Adobe, Uber, eBay, and Tesla. It offers a simple and intuitive user interface. There is also a 14-day period of free subscription.
This service is used by 8Guild, Nearshore Technology, and Waitrose. It allows the creation of complex diagrams and is available in various languages. A monthly subscription will cost at least $5.83, but there is a two-week pay-free period. You can use the available templates and invite other users, which makes it easier to work on a product roadmap with your colleagues. However, unfortunately, this service doesn't allow for export and integration with other services.
Craft.io is a good service and has many features that help to organize the workflow, gather feedback, etc. It also includes great features for sharing, monitoring, planning, and customization and has many useful templates. The service integrates with Azure DevOps, Jira, GitLab, GitHub, etc.
The service is used by Microsoft, Amazon, MasterCard, and Netflix. It offers abundant templates and allows the creation of schemas and diagrams quickly. You can manually add new elements, develop a product roadmap with the other users, export files to other formats, and integrate with Jira. There is a two-week free version. The price for a monthly subscription starts from $19.
To sum up, the product roadmap should display the product's goals, the timing of its implementation, the expected results, and other important factors. So, let's highlight the most important points:
The roadmap should be edited and corrected in the process of development.
It's a great tool for both simple and complex projects.
The main advantage of the roadmap is its simplicity: thanks to the visual format, information is easily perceived.
Product roadmap in a simple and understandable visual format demonstrates the purpose and expected results of the work to stakeholders.
Roadmaps are created for team members, employees of other departments, clients, partners, and investors.
The product roadmap design depends on the tasks to be solved and on the target audience.
You can make a roadmap in the form of a regular table, presentation, or using a service.
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