Product Roadmaps: An Introductory Guide

Building a product doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort. Thus, you can’t just turn a blind eye while your product’s growing, and you would want to know what’s happening throughout. There are different ways of knowing what’s happening in your product development life cycle. Today, I’m going to talk about one of them: product roadmaps.

In this post, I’ll introduce you to product roadmaps and explain why they’re important for you. Then I’ll give you some product roadmap examples that will show you an idea of how they can be used for different use cases.

What Are Product Roadmaps?

  • What is the product?
  • How do you build it?
  • When should it be built?

The product roadmap includes the answers to all of these questions.

A product roadmap is a periodic tracking of your product’s status. It describes the vision, strategy, action plan, and progress of your product. When you start building a product, you set the tasks, timelines, outcomes, etc. to get the product to its final desired state. Once these are set, you monitor them over time to make sure things are hitting the mark. A product roadmap communicates the information of your product as it evolves to its final state.

The purpose that product roadmaps serve may look simple. You may ask yourself, “Why do I need a product roadmap just to know what stage my product’s at?” Let me explain with an example of how a product roadmap is more than just that.

Let’s say your product is a car and it’s being built in a production plant. Now to get the ready-to-use car, it has to go through a lot of departments for assembly: the engine department, electrical department, body works, etc. It’s easy to know where the car is and how much of it’s ready. But you need to know more than that. You need to know if the investments are right, how efficiently things are getting done, how the plan’s working, etc. Product roadmaps aren’t just checklists of tasks. Along with providing the status of the product, they also provide you with details regarding the vision, strategy, and goals of the product development cycle.

Importance of Product Roadmaps

Within the Team

Among Different Teams

For Management

Roadmaps give a clear idea of how the product priorities are aligned with the vision and strategy. And this information helps the management in long-term planning. They can create new strategies or improve the existing strategy for product development and make process-level and financial decisions.

For External Stakeholders

Product Roadmap Examples

You can use product roadmaps for a single product or for multiple products. What determines your roadmap is the primary parameter that you want to monitor. Based on what point of view is important for you, you’ll have to decide what type of roadmap to use. Next, I’m going to talk about some of the most commonly used product roadmaps.

Feature-Based Product Roadmaps

Time-Based Product Roadmaps

Objective-Based Product Roadmaps

Technology-Based Product Roadmaps

Marketing-Based Product Roadmaps

Each of these examples of roadmaps has its own pros and cons. If you want to decide which type of roadmap suits you best, you need to have a vision clearly defined. Then decide what it is that you want to know. Is it the timeliness, the progress of features, or technological details? Or do you want a roadmap for marketing? Finally, once these answers are clear, it’ll be easy for you to choose the kinds of roadmaps most useful for you.

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