Put simply; a product roadmap is a visual representation of the product strategy. As a plan of action and path to execution, product roadmaps are valuable strategic tools that provide answers to the fundamental question of what will get done and when.
At the beginning of the design or development of a product roadmap, there is the question of the actual goal or goals that you are pursuing with a product or a release. Only then do you work out which steps are necessary for the desired result?
There are many different types of product roadmaps, each suited to different products, workflows, teams, and stakeholders.
A product roadmap can be used to document key tasks, accomplishments, and milestones for a specific product launch. It can also serve as a central project management tool, helping your team collaborate more effectively throughout the process from product development to launch.
Also, a product roadmap can be a good way to keep stakeholders regularly informed about project progress and give them the current status.
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The difference between product roadmap and product plan
While numerous elements can appear in both product roadmaps and product roadmaps, there are some key differences.
A product roadmap is a document (or collection of documents) that clarifies what a product is, who it is for, and why it is being developed. It serves as a central focus for your product’s vision, direction, and priorities.
A product roadmap, on the other hand, describes the path to product execution and ultimately to delivery or launch. It visualizes the product strategy. It outlines which tasks will be processed by which resources or teams and when the respective steps will be completed.
Product roadmaps typically contain key milestones and are intended to align stakeholders and team members with clear direction, scope, and goals. They are often more flexible than project plans because the execution and final characteristics of a particular product can be a changing target.
Common types of product roadmaps
The most common types of product roadmaps include stakeholder-centric roadmaps, focus-centric roadmaps, and outcome-centric roadmaps. Let’s take a closer look:
Stakeholder-centric roadmaps are designed to help key stakeholders understand the proposed path. They tend to convey a bird’s-eye view of the product. Examples of this type of roadmap include:
- Executive roadmaps outline the concept and aim to convince both senior management and investors of the idea.
- Sales and customer roadmaps designed to inspire and detail upcoming releases for sales and customer support teams.
- Product portfolio roadmaps that show all planned product releases in a single view.
Focus-oriented roadmaps address a specific convergence or target area for that product. Examples of this type of roadmap include:
- Strategy roadmaps that define the overall product strategy.
- Market roadmaps that address the larger environment or market segment in which your product will exist.
- Technology roadmaps show how your product fits into long-term goals.
- Product release and product feature roadmaps that show the timeline for market introduction and the features to consider at each stage of product development.
Perspective-oriented roadmaps focus on a central area or areas of product development and production. Examples of this type of roadmap include:
- Outcome-related roadmaps that represent the problems you want to solve with the new product.
- Stateful roadmaps that provide the current status of a product or a release at a specific point in time.
- Time-based roadmaps present the timeline or time frame for the product development process and for the various milestones along the way.
Also Read – Free Roadmap Tools
Key benefits of visual product roadmaps
Using visual diagrams or other visual representations as part of the process of creating your product roadmap can help team members understand their role in a particular project.
Key benefits of using visual product roadmaps include:
- Better strategic alignment within the framework of product, customer and company-related goals.
- Greater clarity within the team about the product vision and desired outcomes.
- Work more purposefully thanks to a shared understanding of goals and results to be achieved.
- Improved communication as visual roadmaps are a precise tool for enhancing collaboration, allowing team members to quickly grasp product concepts and their tasks or roles in the development phase.
The stated benefits can also lead to broader support and engagement from key stakeholders as they are able to better understand your product goals, expected outcomes and the path to success.