Everybody nowadays has this unavoidable ritual of checking Google maps and selecting a route before a journey. Whether the journey is long or short, we need Google maps to light the way.

A product roadmap is the Google map for businesses. It illustrates the past, present and future status of the product. It is a high-level summary as well as an up to date document of what and why the team is building with a clear plan for execution.

A plan is inevitable for a business and a bad one can damage you in the long run.

Here is a complete product roadmap guide to help you in your product development journey.

Table of Contents

  • Product vision
  • Action plan
  • The tools for a perfect map
  • Product plan
  • Keeping up with the trend
  • On the shoulders of giants

Product Vision and Future

Before we move to the explicit details on how to build a product roadmap, we have to address what you want the future of your product to be.

Like an arrow that needs a target, your product needs a long term goal.

Once you have that you can draw your product map and give it a strategic direction.

A roadmap also acts as a motivation for the employees as this will be the only complete information they receive about the product. By looking at this product roadmap, they can be proud of the work they are doing and feel more responsible.

A product roadmap also has several goals for itself:

  • The roadmap should be a guiding document that executes the vision of the product.
  • The product roadmap should be able to communicate the vision of the product to the internal as well as external stakeholders with ease.
  • Should include options for improvements and updates.

You would be amazed by how many people just skip this part as they think they know it in their hearts and don't feel the need to put this on a piece of paper. But trust us, with a map in your hands you can walk freely through the darkest jungles.

Action Plan

A product map gives you a clear picture on how a product strategy becomes a reality. There are a lot of things to do while you are dealing with product development and a product roadmap helps you prioritise them.

It arranges the technical development of the product first and then adds the spice and flavour of presentation of the product.

You also need different versions of the same product roadmap to communicate the different parts of the product.

For example, if you want to show your external stakeholders your action plan you don't need to inform them about all the technical steps you took. You can pitch them the goals you have achieved and the goals you will achieve.

You need a product roadmap that resonates with the people you are showing it to.

The perfect roadmap should have the past, present and future of the product. Creating a roadmap that shows your achievements and future plans will help in product management by setting deadlines for each section of the development of the product. This ultimately will lead to the product’s success.

Also, check out our guide for project planning in Agile Methodology.

The Time and Tools

You have answered the questions of “why and what" at this point. Why are you making this product? What all should be included in the product roadmap?

Now you move on to the “how”.

How can you create a perfect product roadmap?

Many product managers use applications like Powerpoint, etc. to create a product map on the go. They try to improvise the product map and use this in meetings and customer interactions.

Big mistake!

Without taking proper time to plan the things to include in the roadmap, you are bound to miss a few things, overestimate, or give misinformation. Taking your time is crucial and collecting the right data is necessary. You will be presenting this before a crucial audience, which includes internal and external stakeholders, customers, your colleagues and so on.

Even if you have the right data you need a classy presentation. For that, you need to use product roadmap software that can properly communicate your product vision. Using makeshift software will make your efforts seem trivial and can affect the quality of your work.

Read about the top 10 reasons why a project manager needs project management tools.

Product Plan

Now you have laid the foundation for your product roadmap.

It's time to move to the prioritisation of your themes for the product.

You should determine the themes for your product and how it can be incorporated into the product roadmap.

There will be changes that you will need to make to the themes to make them follow a pyramid model (important items and moving to a broader theme). By using the proper product roadmap software you can make changes and arrange them accordingly.

After setting up your themes, you can add them to your product map and create a clear path for product development.

Product management and product goals should go hand in hand with the roadmap so that it ensures a smooth transition from one section to the other. Never forget to think about the product goals while making the roadmap.

Setting up a development team for the product roadmap can also be a good idea. Once you have the plan to go, it's action time!

Keeping Up with the Trend

The world is evolving right before our eyes and change is inevitable. Your product map is not something that is etched in stone, you need to be flexible in order to incorporate new ideas that come and be ready to tackle new challenges.

Leaving room for possible tweaks and updates could help you adapt to audience preferences and help you in the long run.

You have to do your market research. Because even if your product is unique, it will not be the only one in the market. There will be competitors and you have to foresee this scenario and act accordingly.

By constantly looking out for new ways to improve you can always stay ahead of the curve and be dominant in the market.

With the growth in technology, your opinions of updates are huge. There will be new resources you can use that can reduce your hustle while increasing your productivity. So we cannot be fixated on a particular product map.

A product map that grows with the change will be your ace in the deck.

Also read: How to Develop a Growth Strategy for Your Startup Business.

On the Shoulders of Giants

There are a lot of successful companies who follow different strategies and they have their own product roadmaps.

We can draw inspiration from the top companies and you can select the product roadmap example that you feel is the most closely aligned with your product vision and create one which aligns with your product vision.

Product roadmap templates are available and you could use them as references for your roadmap, which will save you a huge amount of time.

Takeaway

Whether it be mobile app or web development, a product roadmap is an essential tool for every company that wants to ship its products to the market. It can help you attract investors and give you a clear vision of where you want to be in the future. Even your employees will be happy to see that they are working towards something that has a definite aim. It keeps everyone on the same page.

To reach the hidden treasure, which is a successful product, you need a map and a product roadmap that helps you accomplish your product development journey.

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