How to Build a Product Development Roadmap from A to Z

April 20, 2021
11 min

80% of what everyone’s talking about never happens.

- Jay Chiat, the founder of Chiat/Day Agency

These words by Jay Chiat, the founder of Chiat/Day Agency that revolutionized the marketing industry in the 1970s and `80s, perfectly associate with product development.

The essence is that generating a startup idea and validating its product-market fit is great, but not enough to succeed.

Throughout the product development process, you acquire more people, set new tasks, and it becomes difficult to follow a single strategy till the launch.

Are there any ways to keep your product team in sync at all levels?

Sure, product development roadmap is what you actually need to set up a strategy and stay in tune with all team members.

Today, we want to shed the light on the product development roadmap topic covering:

  • What is a product roadmap
  • Benefits of a product roadmap
  • Core types of product roadmaps
  • Product roadmap examples
  • How to create a product roadmap
  • 4 product roadmap templates.

Let’s start with the product roadmap definition to get the basics of “what” and “why” do you need this document.

What is a Product Development Roadmap?

A product development roadmap is a strategic and high-level plan of actions that outlines the vision, milestones, and initiatives of a product binding them with a company’s business goals.

This document helps startup founders and product owners to define a solution’s functionality and set deadlines that should be met.

In terms of Agile roadmaps, they provide an everyday work environment context that helps all team members to be focused on primary tasks.

Simply put, a product line roadmap is a single source of truth that describes how short-term efforts can reach long-term business objectives.

C. Todd Lombardo, the author of ‘Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty,’ once said:

Your product roadmap is the prototype for your strategy.

C. Todd Lombardo

Want to build a product roadmap for your startup?

Our expert Business Analysts will help you create a roadmap for a successful product launch.

 

Well, we defined the meaning of a product development roadmap, but who actually needs it?

Let’s discuss the key 4 types of this document and check roadmap samples:

 

#1 Internal development team roadmap

This document type mostly includes the priorities of value delivered to clients, exact product release dates, and project milestones.

As far as many product teams use the Agile software development approach, this roadmap type is largely represented by sprints.

They enable to show accurate task areas and help to define bottlenecks within a specific timeframe.

Below you can see a sample product roadmap outline for an internal development team.

Internal development team roadmap

An internal development team roadmap sample

 

#2 Internal product management roadmap

This roadmap type focuses on how product teamwork facilitates achieving high-level business objectives and the company’s KPIs.

Most commonly, this document is organized within a month or quarter timescale which allows seeing a product’s global progress.

Also, internal product management roadmaps mostly include fewer details about the development process.

Below is an example of a roadmap for product management teams by Aha!

Internal product management roadmap by Aha

Internal product management roadmap by Aha

 

#3 Internal sales team roadmap

This roadmap type is related to new opportunities and a better product value proposition for customers.

One of the key ways to use this document is to present it to your target audience during a marketing campaign to increase engagement and boost sales.

Here is an example of a product roadmap for a sales team by Roadmunk.

sales-team-product-development-roadmap-roadmunk

Sales team product development roadmap by Roadmunk

 

#4 External product development roadmaps

This roadmap type is a perfect choice to put the wind of customers in future product releases. It’s crucial to make sure this document visually appealing and easy to read. It will help you present new product features efficiently and get customers interested in the future development of a product.

4 Key Product Roadmap Types

4 Key Product Roadmap Types | Ascendix Tech

Why Does Your Product Need a Roadmap

The core benefit of a product development roadmap is the strategic vision it provides to all concerned parties. A roadmap correlates high-level product objectives with the development costs and helps to bring internal teams together to create top-notch products.

Let’s briefly discuss the advantages of a product development roadmap for the key product parties.

 

Corporate management

A product roadmap document provides C-suite leadership with product progress and key updates from a development team in an easy-to-understand way.

 

Product owners/managers

Product managers and owners greatly benefit from using a roadmap by keeping internal development teams on track and updating other departments consistently and on time.

 

Development teams

A product development roadmap provides software engineers and technical specialists with an accurate system of task prioritization, transparent collaboration, and visualization of the product strategy.

Simply put, development teams understand how their technical implementation goals help a company achieve high-level business objectives through a product roadmap document.

 

What Product Parties Benefit from a Roadmap

What Product Parties Benefit from a Roadmap | Ascendix Tech

 

Now you know what a roadmap is and why do you actually need it. So, it’s high time to find out how to make a product roadmap step-by-step.

How to Build a Product Roadmap

#1 Identify your product strategy

Before building a roadmap, you should carefully analyze all the components that will make your solution a success.

 

First, define the problem your product will solve.

Multiple startups launch daily and customers most commonly have similar solutions to their challenges. Your product should be either unique or a killer app that will stand out from the competition and force clients to opt for your proposition.

 

Second, analyze the market.

Take a look at the top competitors within your niche and try to understand their value proposition, marketing campaigns, and why customers choose their products among others.

 

Third, identify your target audience.

Proceeding from the previous step, you can analyze the potential customers that will express the most interest in your product.

Try to create an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and build Buyers Personas.

This data will greatly help you build a product development roadmap keeping in mind who is your customer and what challenges do they have.

 

Fourth, pitch your product idea to stakeholders in a well-argued manner.

For sure, stakeholders will ask you such questions as ‘What problems does your product solve?’, ‘Who are the potential customers and why?’, ‘Why the product will stand out from the competition?’, and so forth.

 

4 Steps to Your Product Strategy

4 Steps to Your Product Strategy | Ascendix Tech

 

As we stated earlier, a product development roadmap is a single source of truth for all team members. It means that you can succeed only if your product strategy is fully agreed upon by the whole team.

 

#2 Define key goals, metrics, and a strict timeframe

Once you have generated a product idea, completed a market analysis, discussed and confirmed your initiatives with all the parties, it’s high time to make its debut of the product roadmap development process.

To begin with, you should identify key goals within a specific timeframe and define metrics to keep the process on track.

In terms of the goals, they can be represented in product functionality, fundraising rounds, release dates.

When you create a whitelist of goals, we recommend prioritizing them by importance and directness which means that you should first complete strategic tasks that lead to the product’s overall success.

A great roadmap for a product always includes an exact timescale to achieve those goals and initiatives. Ultimately, you should choose and implement KPI metrics that fully depend on your product type and the software development process you choose.

In case you choose Agile software development, you can check our Scrum metrics we use to track our team’s performance and product progress.

Scrum Metrics to Measure Project Team’s Performance [PDF]

 

#3 Use Roadmapping Software to Build and View

Excel is a relic of the past in terms of scalability and convenience it provides. For sure, you can create roadmaps at bench scale to quickly highlight the key milestones, initiatives, and tasks, but it will most likely take much time and effort to build a sufficient and detailed document.

Instead, we recommend accelerating the process of building a product roadmap by using specific software that offers multiple tools of the trade you need.

Let’s briefly overview the most popular product roadmap toolkit that will help you simplify the understanding of how to build a roadmap providing lots of features out-of-the-box.

 

#1 Roadmunk

roadmunk-product-development-roadmapping-software

Roadmunk – product development roadmap building software

 

What is Roadmunk? It is one of the top software for creating product development roadmaps used by Amazon, Microsoft, Slack, Booking.com, Netflix, Adidas, Autodesk, and others.

This platform is a great choice for creating roadmaps within short timeframes. Roadmunk includes lots of ready-made templates for a timeline, plans, and marketing strategies.

 

Top Companies that Use Roadmunk

Top Companies that Use Roadmunk | Ascendix Tech

 

What are the key features of Roadmunk?

  • Create product development roadmaps with preselected values
  • Add roadmaps manually
  • Share roadmaps via links to other team members
  • Invite users to create product development roadmaps collaboratively
  • Export your documents into PNG, HTML, CSV formats
  • Integrate Jira for project management, bug, and issue tracking.

 

Roadmunk has a 14-day trial and 4 pricing plans:

 

#1 Starter – $19/mo

This option is a good fit if you start creating a product roadmap document for your startup with up to 3 team members. Roadmunk charges $5 for each new added user.

 

#2 Business – $49/mo

This pricing plan allows to add up to 5 users and provides master roadmaps, API access tokes, and custom weighted prioritization in addition to the Starter pack features.

 

#3 Professional – $99/mo

This offering includes up to 10 users and offers such features as two-way Jira Roadmunk integration, personalized training and support, and others.

 

#4 Enterprise – individual pricing

If you have a large company and start building one or several products, the Enterprise pack is the option you need. Apart from the features listed above, you get private cloud and advanced customization as the key features.

roadmunk-pricing-plans-ascendixtech

4 pricing plans of Roadmunk

 

#2 ProductPlan

productplan-product-development-roadmap-software -builder

ProductPlan a product development roadmap building software

ProductPlan is a great option for distributed product development teams and allows you to upload Excel sheets and sync with Jira.

HubSpot, Coca-Cola, Procore, Ralph Lauren, and Adobe are among the most famous companies that leverage ProductPlan features for building and scaling their roadmaps.

 

Top Companies that Use ProductPlan

Top Companies that Use ProductPlan | Ascendix Tech

 

What are the key features of ProductPlan?

  • Build advanced project visualization with ready-made sample product roadmap templates, timeframes, and task prioritization
  • Share unlimited access to view your roadmaps
  • Export your documents into PNG, PDF, CSV formats
  • Integrate with Jira, Slack, Trello, GitHub, Microsoft Team, and others.

 

ProductPlan offers a 14-day trial and 3 pricing plans:

 

#1 Business – $39/mo (if billed annually)

This option allows you to build unlimited roadmaps and invite myriad users along with basic integrations (Jira, Slack, Trello, GitHub, etc.).

Also, you can create customized roadmap views, build and review planning boards, and export to such formats as PNG, PDF, and CSV.

 

#2 Enterprise & Enterprise Plus

These packages provide individual pricing after consultation with ProductPlan. Basically, you will receive much more integrations, a Single Sign-On (SSO), REST API access, and other features.

productplan-product-development-roadmap-pricing-ascendixtech

3 pricing plans of ProductPlan

 

#4 Share and present your roadmap

Once you’ve built a roadmap, it’s high time to share your product development insights with all the parties. As we described the key audiences above, let’s briefly discuss what roadmap ideas and how should you present them to each level.

 

Leadership

The board members want to hear and understand how your product plan roadmap will align with the high-level company vision, strategic initiatives, long-term goals, and key corporate metrics.

Simply put, you need to translate your product development roadmap into an easy-to-understand ideas on how this document will help achieve high-level business objectives.

We recommend paying attention to the following types of metrics:

  • Financial: operating income, recurring revenue, etc.
  • Sales: pipeline, subscriptions/bookings, etc.
  • Customer Success: retention rate, health scores, engagement, etc.

 

You should always keep in mind that board members mostly don’t have any technical background. It means that the better you translate the product development roadmap into simple words, the higher their acceptance will be.

 

Engineering

A team of technical specialists will require exact answers to “what”, “why”, and “when” in terms of product requirements, functionality, and releases.

So, share your product development roadmap insights in the most specific way. This will help your software engineers, QA specialists, and other members clearly formulate “how” to implement technologies to achieve strategic goals and business objectives.

 

Marketing

In case you have marketing specialists on board, it’s crucial to inform them what benefits can product features and releases bring to customers. These insights will help them define a clear vision, strategy, and goals to build effective marketing campaigns.

 

Sales

In addition to the insights you share with marketers, you need to answer the questions of sales managers so that they formulate a precise understanding of why customers should care about new product releases and features.

Salespeople often build client-facing product plans to share their progress with both customers and prospects. For instance, you can review these customer roadmap examples by ProductPlan to have a better understanding of what should be tracked.

 

Core Audiences to Share Your Product Roadmap

Core Audiences to Share Your Product Roadmap | Ascendix Tech

 

No matter what group of members you share the new product roadmap with, the core goal of your presentation is to let people know the growth vector and how it will reach the destination point.

4 Product Roadmap Templates

Let’s briefly overview several roadmap templates that can help you bring a new product launch in 2021 to the next level.

 

#1 Software Roadmap

A Software Roadmap Template is a perfect choice for your company if you start developing a solution from scratch. The initiatives are divided into two categories: engineering and marketing/sales.

This pipeline allows you to concentrate on both directions and clearly align your product technical goals with the marketing objectives.

Below you can see a sample Software Product Roadmap by ProductPlan which provides a two-year fictitious template that allows creating your own social media app.

Software Roadmap by ProductPlan

Software Roadmap by ProductPlan

 

#2 Multiple Product Roadmap

This roadmap template is a great option if you are planning to launch several products and need a real-time overview of the progress for each direction. You may think it adds much complexity, but it also allows you to manage and coordinate efficiently.

A multiple product map can save much time and effort on communication issues through an online environment and fewer meetings.

Here is a Multiple Product Strategy Roadmap by ProductPlan which provides a high-level overview of several product lines and their releases.

Multiple Product Roadmap by ProductPlan

Multiple Product Roadmap by ProductPlan

 

#3 Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) Roadmap

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a framework designed by Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel Corporation, which suggests setting ambitious goals, track progress, improve, and scale.

You can use this framework roadmap template to monitor how effectively do you achieve set goals and where to move on. In terms of product development, you can highlight the key strategic goals, put them into a roadmap, divide them into tasks, and track the progress.

Below you can see an OKRs Roadmap by ProductPlan with emphasis on two objectives and their local tasks.

Multiple Product Roadmap by ProductPlan

Multiple Product Roadmap by ProductPlan

 

#4 Executive-Facing Portfolio Roadmap Template

What is product portfolio planning? A portfolio management roadmap helps you visualize the strategy and timeline through all product efforts.

It displays a complex of your plans within a single internal roadmap to allow executives better realize the way each product aligns with the strategic goals and business objectives.

Below you can see an Executive-Facing Product Portfolio Roadmap Template by ProductPlan.

Executive-Facing Portfolio Roadmap by ProductPlan

Executive-Facing Portfolio Roadmap by ProductPlan

Bottom Line

We hope this guide will help you with a better understanding of what does a roadmap look like, what are the key components of a product roadmap, and how to develop product roadmaps that lead to success.

Always start with a product roadmap business plan and save much time by using templates, but always adjust them to your internal product goals and business objectives.

If you are looking for a software product development company, we will be glad to help transform your idea into a top-tier software product that your customers will love. Check our case studies or drop us a line to discuss your project.

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