The essential strategy document for all product managers, it lays out your vision, and the stages between where you are now and the realization of that vision.
What is a roadmap?
In a nutshell, Product Roadmaps are a path to achieving a goal. They’re the essential strategy document for all Product Managers, as it lays out your vision and how to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
Why do you need a roadmap?
As a Product Manager, you’ll need to create a roadmap (or several) for every product you work on. They will help you define objectives and timelines and communicate them with your team.
Things You Need to Know Before Building a Roadmap
To start, define the scope of the roadmap. This can vary depending on the size of the company or the size of the project.
A smaller company moves faster and may need a roadmap of around 3-6 months, while a larger company may need to plan for 6-12 months. But what exactly goes into a roadmap will ultimately be defined by your product and company’s needs.
And before even starting your roadmap, analyze the following questions:
- What’s Been Done?
- What did the company try already?
- How did customers react?
- Have circumstances changed that would make an old idea useful again? e.g. VR was hot in the ‘90s and now it’s technically feasible.
- What Will Be Done?
- Does the company have a broader vision they’re working towards you need to lay the groundwork for now?
- What’s the scope of your product?
- Will you need more than one roadmap? Ie if your product has several features.
- What tool will you use to create your roadmap?
- What’s the other guy doing?
- What have they tried?
- How did customers react?
- What general trends (in your industry, in society, etc.) are happening that will affect you?
As important as it is to have a Product Roadmap, it’s also key to make sure that your audience can easily understand it. Giving too much or too little detail can make it easy to brush aside, or even too scary to read.
“Anything that’s required for the project to succeed”
You just need the right amount of detail and some visual appeal to get through the door from key stakeholders, and we got you covered. Outlined below are some of the most important elements to highlight in your product roadmap:
- Product Vision: On your roadmap, the vision is your destination
- Goals & Outcomes: These should be concrete and measurable outcomes, based on company and user needs. This means choosing the right metrics, which will help make your goals data-driven.
- Timeline: This is essential, but far from the most important part. A roadmap is never just a list of timelines.
- Feature of experiment descriptions: There is no need to exhaust the list of action points and allocate each one to teams or individuals. But you should pinpoint what is to be done, starting with general functions and finishing with specific ones. This will help clarify priorities, responsibilities, and time allocation from the get-go. Some of the things you’ll need to keep track of are:
- Engineering tasks/experiments
- Design tasks/experiments
- Legal tasks/experiments
- PR tasks/experiments
- Status markers: these will help to keep the whole team up to date on when certain actions can expect to be completed, and what’s currently being worked on.
- Data, data, and data: While you do not want to draw your roadmap with numbers, you should be able to justify each decision with the right sort of data. Why is this function a priority? What can we gain from doing this last? You should have information to back that up.
TERM IN ACTION
“Each member of our Product Management department agrees that our roadmap covers all the necessary components of our vision, milestones, and where the product will eventually be completed.”