In today’s remote settings, a growing number of businesses delegate some of their processes to third-party vendors. Whether it’s software or payroll processing, a business is more likely to outsource functions that are not core competencies. This way, organizations won’t…
How to Build a Product Roadmap: Complete Guide
As the competition in the app development market increases, thorough and systematic planning can give you an edge. For instance, building a product roadmap that communicates short- and long-term goals becomes crucial as ever. As your business scales, a product roadmap makes it easier for you to demonstrate the value of your products to your clients. In addition, it enables you to visualize the product development strategy used by your team.
You risk creating confusion about your product lifecycle by not paying sufficient attention to building a clear roadmap and documenting your progress. To help you avoid it, we will break down the main elements you need to consider when creating a roadmap and explain how you could communicate it clearly.
Proper planning and communication are vital. For instance, the Gartner survey found that 78% of product managers, who made cooperation between internal stakeholders one of their top three priorities, rarely had failures. On top of that, four out of 10 respondents stressed that building a product roadmap was their key task. So, being a product manager, you need to focus on organizing the work smartly to ensure that your site, app, or program becomes a success.
At Devox Software, we build a roadmap at the first stage of a product development cycle after analyzing the needs of our clients and the expected outcome. Read on if you are wondering how to build a product roadmap and optimize your product development cycle.
What is a Product Roadmap?
Beginner product managers often wonder: “What is a product roadmap?” It is more than an expectation of how a product will evolve throughout the development cycles. Development teams create product roadmaps for setting achievable goals and allocating resources, while marketing and sales departments employ them for planning advertising campaigns and setting deadlines. It allows them to understand when they are going to get a newly released product to the market.
Creating a well-thought-out roadmap allows you to sell your vision and ideas to your business partners, retain your customers, plan your budget, and align your plans with suppliers.
Besides outlining your long-term goals, a roadmap should contain information on the steps your team needs to take to achieve them. The Devox Software team starts working on every project by analyzing a client’s unique needs and creating a product roadmap based on what it thinks can be delivered. It helps us to align estimated completion dates with set goals as well as demonstrate what problems we are going to solve.
Importance of a Product Roadmap
and provide your stakeholders with a forecast about the future evolution of your product. By creating a detailed roadmap, presenting and communicating it well, you can gain the trust of your clients. However, setting tight deadlines might raise futile expectations and create a potential conflict between the sales and development teams.
For senior managers, the roadmap is essential as it allows them to understand what steps will be taken by the development team to achieve the set goals.
Product roadmaps facilitate communication between different teams and allow them to align their efforts. Therefore, they are crucial for an agile product development workflow, enabling team members to prioritize specific tasks and make autonomous decisions.
The Process of Creating a Roadmap
It might be a daunting task to create a roadmap that communicates your vision clearly unless you know what items you need to focus on. By tailoring your roadmap to your client’s needs, you can ensure that there will be no misunderstandings between you.
Start by deciding whether you need to put dates on your roadmap. Then, set your goals and demonstrate what problem you will solve. Finally, focus on the value of the product you are going to build. Thus, you can organize the items on your roadmap by selecting the categories you want to concentrate on.
When creating a product development roadmap, many teams make the same mistake of setting unrealistic deadlines. If your team has a poor track record of meeting tight deadlines, it’s better not to promise to deliver a product on time.
In case you use a roadmap for communicating decisions, it should not necessarily contain any dates. Some clients will still expect you to demonstrate a higher level of commitment by setting deadlines. Keep in mind that after doing estimates with your development team, you might need to change your roadmap and the set dates.
The important thing is to be specific when setting goals for the next couple of months. There is no need to go into detail when describing processes that will take place in two years.
Group Items Into Categories To Bring Your Message Across
The first thing you need to do is to describe a problem and communicate how you will solve it. You may also demonstrate how you are going to achieve some specific objectives. Development teams structure product roadmaps by focusing on different categories:
It’s essential to create multiple versions of your roadmap for different audiences and teams as it will allow you to communicate your ideas clearly.
Emphasize the Value of a Product
When building a new product roadmap, it’s insufficient to say that you are going to increase the storage capacity of a product. Instead, demonstrate that your product can store more data securely to meet, for example, GDPR requirements. Your clients want to see that you are capable of solving a specific problem.
By focusing on value and benefits, you give your development team some flexibility in achieving the set goals. You can decide how much detail you want to include in your roadmap.
For instance, when working on upgrading the online store of the home appliance manufacturer ILVE, our team was tasked with building a showroom assistant. Our goal was to boost sales and improve the UX experience. The project lasted for over a year. The team started by creating a roadmap that emphasized the product’s value. We aimed to solve three main problems:
Besides providing product roadmapping services, our analysts develop PoC to see whether proposed improvements are feasible.
Product Roadmap Examples
To facilitate the task of creating a roadmap, we have rounded up the main types of roadmaps employed by the DevoxSoftware team. They are used for different purposes, so select the one that suits your needs best. You may choose any product roadmap example that will help you align your teams’ goals.
This widely-used type of roadmap is suitable for solving multiple tasks at once. A product roadmap timeline enables you to set priorities and schedule processes. In addition, it demonstrates how long you expect your team to spend on a particular stage. Besides, it makes it easier for executives to understand when your project will be completed.
You may also create a release roadmap that should include tasks and teams responsible for their completion. Such roadmaps may include information on when a beta version of a product is expected to be released.
A product management roadmap of this type should contain a detailed description of a feature that you are going to create. It simplifies the task of tracking the development process. We use feature-based roadmaps to demonstrate what tasks our team members are going to solve next.
By updating your roadmap with the features to create, you can demonstrate the value of your product and show in which direction it will evolve. Such roadmaps make it easier to assign tasks and allocate resources wisely. The key shortcoming of such maps is that they need to be updated frequently.
A digital product roadmap with set goals is perfect for tracking your progress across the product development cycles. For example, if your client wants to increase their revenue by 30%, you may propose building a mobile app to boost the conversion rate and increase sales.
We typically use goal-focused roadmaps to visualize our strategy and make it clear to our clients. This type of roadmap appeals to top managers as they focus on problems requiring solutions.
3 Rules for Creating an Effective Product Roadmap
Before creating a roadmap, you need to consider what problem your product or update will solve. Next, you need to demonstrate your product’s value, discuss your client’s wishes, and set a clear timeframe to confirm that your project will be completed on time. If you have never done this before, you may analyze any software product roadmap example to see how it was designed and what items it contains.
#1 Select a Product Strategy
To communicate your vision and get your product funded, you need to demonstrate the goals that you want to achieve. Make sure to answer how your client will benefit from your product.
When building the ActivePlace social platform from scratch, the Devox Software team strived to create a solution satisfying the needs of people interested in the active way of life. We wanted to build a product combining the features of a social network, an eCommerce store, and a blog. As no similar solution was available, we started by creating a roadmap to demonstrate how we would build it.
#2 Identify the Needs of Your Client
The Devox Software team starts to work on every project by conducting thorough market research. It allows us to create products that contribute to the development of our client’s businesses. We consider all our client’s wishes and requirements when building a roadmap and setting project goals.
By discussing goals with our clients, we get a clear idea of what product we are going to build or what to do to improve an existing product. At this stage, we select a list of features that can significantly improve the user experience and identify possible issues that need to be solved.
You may order Devox Software software development services and get a solution that fully meets your requirements. We provide digital consulting and end-to-end software development services that include roadmap creation, market analysis, product development, and maintenance.
#3 Tailor The Roadmap to The Needs of Your Teams
If you look at road map examples, you will see that there is no need to set tight deadlines when creating one. It might be impossible to predict how long a specific task will take. You may plot your roadmap monthly or quarterly instead. It will allow you to satisfy the demands of your clients and give some freedom to your development team.
You may need to create multiple versions of your roadmap for different groups of people:
- Top managers
- Marketing professionals
- Sales department
- Development team
While executives will be more interested in the product strategy, the sales team will expect to see a general timeline. A roadmap for the development team should include tasks. It will simplify the communication between the different teams and ensure that they stay on the same page.
Top 7 Free Product Roadmapping Tools
A range of free online-based services allows you to create and update your roadmap without paying a dime. You may use dedicated product roadmap software to streamline your workflow. Besides Google Sheets, you may also use free versions of such tools as Wrike, ClickUp, Asana, StoriesOnBoard, Craftwork, and LoopedIn.
Using these services, you can plan your processes, visualize product overviews, customize any roadmap template from the in-built library, allocate your budget, set milestones, and improve collaboration between different teams.
Using this spreadsheet service, you can quickly build a roadmap with the help of the available features and formatting tools. You can interconnect your sheets and create different roadmap versions for different departments.
To make the most out of this project roadmap tool, you may employ a range of templates and customize them to your liking. It will take you up to 2 hours per week to maintain your roadmap.
This service is suitable for building an agile roadmap. You can add filters, copy deadlines to the in-built calendar, set priorities, and use color-coded workflows to optimize your processes. Using an interactive dashboard, you can create Gantt charts and visualize your timeline using any available theme from the collection.
Wrike will help you make informed product decisions, manage tasks, create schedules and back up your data to the Cloud. It integrates with Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and other services.
Besides a huge collection of templates and tools for building a Gantt chart, this web-based service includes handy tools for assigning priority tasks, setting status notifications, and improving collaboration. You can use an intuitive dashboard for assigning tasks and visualizing progress.
While Asana doesn’t focus on roadmapping, it makes it easier for you to analyze progress, align tasks, and keep your teams updated. The free version includes 100+ integrations, making it easier for you to use Slack and cloud services and time-tracking and scheduling product roadmapping tools.
Product managers use StoriesOnBoard for creating roadmaps and analyzing client feedback. It allows you to automatically collect feedback from users and the engineering team. Then, you can use it to gain valuable insights that will contribute to developing a product.
You can share your roadmaps and use the story map tools for optimizing product roadmap planning. This service integrates with Trello, Google Chrome, Azure, Zapier, and e-mail services.
This tool is valued by creative professionals who need to create a roadmap from scratch. Using Craftwork, you can get access to flowcharts, icons, mockups, and wireframe kits that will help you build a visually-appealing roadmap and bring your message across.
If you want to communicate your vision clearly, LoopedIn is what you need. This service stands out for its drag-and-drop functionality, which greatly simplifies product roadmap visualization. It allows all your team members to contribute to building a roadmap. Using it, you can quickly add updates and inform your stakeholders of completed tasks.
Let Devox Software Create a Solid Roadmap for Your Product
By employing the range of tools mentioned in this article, you can build a detailed roadmap to showcase your product vision. Even if you are on a budget, you may use free tools and customizable templates to update your team on the progress, assign tasks, and notify your team members about updates.
At Devox Software, we provide a range of development services. Outsource time-consuming web and software development tasks to our skilled team and get a concise roadmap that will allow you to visualize the future development of your product!