A solid product roadmap isn’t a “nice to have”. If you’re serious about developing a product that meets customer needs, and delivering it on time and within budget, you need a roadmap that keeps you all moving efficiently in the same direction.
A product roadmap can keep your team focused on your high-level goals even after you’ve started to make progress. You won’t wander off course or stumble into obvious pitfalls. And, most importantly, you’ll all be working towards the same well-defined goals.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know to get started with product road mapping — why you need a roadmap, what to include, and how to build one. We’ll also show you how to set one up in our product management solution, monday dev.Try monday dev
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a high-level action plan that maps out the necessary steps to realize your long-term product vision and goals. Your product roadmap should outline the vision, direction, and goals for your product, together with a high-level overview of your planned features, milestones, and deadlines.
Product roadmaps give product teams a single source of truth and a shared location for all of the high-level information involved in the product.
Who owns the product roadmap?
The product manager owns the product roadmap, rather than senior leadership or clients.
Or, if you’re an Agile team, the roadmap is owned by the product owner, who might be a product manager, senior developer, account manager, or even a business analyst.
What should a product roadmap include?
When you’re building your product roadmap, you should usually include most or all of the following elements:
- Vision and objectives: Start by clearly expressing what you’re trying to build, and why. This sets the context for all the other components of your roadmap.
- Features: List the most important features (or improvements) you’ll be including in this product version. Make sure to prioritize these features based on things like customer requests, market trends, and business goals.
- Release plan: You’ll need a calendar, Gantt Chart or similar that shows the planned release dates, as well as what features will be included in each release.
- Resource allocation: Plan out the resources you’ll need for the product, in terms of person time, budget, technical resources, and anything else you’ll need on hand to get the job done.
- Metrics and success criteria: Decide at this stage how you’ll track progress, what success looks like at each milestone, and how you’ll measure your results.
Agile product road mapping
If you’re using the Agile approach instead of traditional waterfall planning, then your roadmap will look a little different. Some teams prefer Agile because it involves rapid iteration, which makes it easier to adjust your plan in line with customer requirements.
A typical Agile product roadmap includes the following elements:
- Themes: Planning your Agile roadmap starts by defining the overall “themes” that you’re working on as a company — high-level objectives that provide some strategic direction, but are flexible enough to accommodate changes.
- Initiatives: You’ll use the themes to create initiatives — product roadmap milestones that are plotted along a timeline
- Epics: Collections of “stories” (end-user requests or benefits), grouped to form a short-term goal within the wider initiative
- Sprint plan: Your team will then be working on each epic as a series of “sprints” — short blocks of concentrated effort, usually around 2 weeks long. Your sprint plan should include the tasks you’ll be working on during the sprint, who is working on which tasks, and any task dependencies.
- User stories: You’ll need to collect and include user stories in your Agile roadmap. These are the feature requests (or, for new products, what you believe your users will want) for a given product.
Whether you’re using Agile or not, monday dev lets your team design the roadmap you need, and then seamlessly manage all your development processes in one easy-to-use platform.Try monday dev
What are the benefits of a product roadmap?
While it can be tempting to skip the planning stage and dive right into development, product roadmaps come with some major benefits for product teams:
A shared product vision
The rapidly changing circumstances after launch can easily overwhelm your initial goals. The roadmap keeps your product team focused on the essentials. You can structure it in many ways, including based on time or larger desired functionality groups.
A single source of truth
Product development brings together multiple teams with different priorities. A product roadmap gives you a top-level overview of the product vision, but also brings together all the relevant product information in the same place. You can use your roadmap to see how work is progressing, spot roadblocks, collaborate with team members, and quickly find the product information you’re looking for.
A tool for prioritization and communication
By bringing all the product information together, roadmaps make it easier to prioritize features and initiatives based on factors such as customer needs, market trends, business objectives, and technical feasibility, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently. You can also communicate any changes to your priorities to the rest of the product team from the same shared location.
For a product roadmap template, visual dashboards, and easy team communication, you might want to check out monday dev.Try monday dev
How do you structure a product roadmap?
The three main ways to structure a roadmap are to base it on themes, product lines, or timelines.
1. By themes
The first option is to structure your roadmap based on high-level themes. It’s easy to implement because the logical order is self-explanatory.
- User story
Themes could include things like “User Experience Enhancement,” “Performance Optimization,” “New Feature Development,” “Market Expansion,” and so on.
Under the theme of “User Experience Enhancement,” you could have epics like “Simplify Onboarding Process,” “Improve Navigation,” and “Enhance Mobile Experience”.
Then the user story for “Simplifying Onboarding Process” could be to reduce the number of steps required for a new user to sign up from 7 to 3.
2. By product
If you focus on multiple products in a single roadmap, that’s technically a program roadmap or portfolio roadmap. You can use it separately from, or in combination with, single-product roadmaps.
To structure your roadmap using your product lines, then add the products as the top-level category. For each product, add in the groups of features you’ll be working on. Finally, break down each feature group into individual features.
A multi-product roadmap is useful when allocating resources between different projects.
3. By time
You can also create a roadmap by mapping out a timeline in quarters (or whatever unit of time you want). Instead of the initial grouping being themes, it’s purely time-based. From there, you include larger epics or perhaps even features directly — depending on your time frame.
Build a better product roadmap with monday dev
If you’re ready to get started building your own product roadmap, then monday dev is a great place to begin. With our product roadmap software, you can:
- Streamline your entire development workflow, with a roadmap, sprint plan, backlog, bug tracker, and communication tools in the same location.
- Save time with a done-for-you product roadmap template and a complete package of views, widgets and dashboards (or build your own if you prefer)
- Create a clear timeline with customizable Gantt charts so you can manage dependencies and see progress by individual team members, teams, or features — or use a Kanban board for easy task management.
- Automate repetitive tasks and save your team time with 150+ pre-built, customizable automations.
With monday dev, you’ll have a well-designed, visual, and collaborative product roadmap put together quickly — so you can get to work developing a great product!