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Product development life cycle

How to create an effective product roadmap

Rosanna Campbell 12 min read
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If you’re serious about developing a product that meets customer needs, and delivering it on time within budget, you need a product roadmap that keeps your team 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, wandered off course, or stumbled into obvious pitfalls.  But most importantly it provides a single source of truth to ensure everyone involved is working towards the same well-defined goals.

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about getting started with product road mapping — why you need a roadmap, what it should include, and how to build one. We’ll also show you how to quickly set one up with our product management solution, monday dev.

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What is a product roadmap?


product roadmap gantt in monday dev

A product roadmap is a high-level action plan that maps out the necessary steps to realize your long-term vision and business goals. Your product roadmap should outline the vision, direction, and product goals, together with a high-level overview of your planned features, milestones, and deadlines.

Product roadmaps give product teams a centralized shared location for all of the high-level information involved in the product.

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 product 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 while also bringing together all the relevant product information in the same place. You can use your roadmap to see how work is progressing, monitor analytics, 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 document.

For a product roadmap template, visual dashboards, and easy team communication, you might want to check out monday dev.

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5 types of product roadmaps

It’s important to define your audience when creating your roadmap, which is why different types of roadmaps come into play depending on the audience and goals.

Here are some of the common types of product roadmaps:

1. Strategic roadmap 

Purpose: Highlights the value of a product, and the steps that will drive the product to success through product objectives, milestones, and initiatives. It doesn’t generally focus on more granular timeline details like other roadmaps. 

Audience: Internal teams including stakeholders, execs, and developers, so they can align on high-level product plans. 

2. Features roadmap 

Purpose: To focus on specific product features and how/ when they will be developed.

Audience: Development, product, and engineering teams to align on the steps and timeline needed to deliver specific features. 

3. Release date roadmap

Purpose: To outline a product’s planned release dates so internal teams can stay aligned on the product’s development.  

Audience: Marketing, sales teams, product development, and any other internal team who needs to know about release dates to structure their respective plans. 

4. Developmental roadmap 

Purpose: For technical teams to dive into the specifics of product implementations, breaking things down through epics, themes, milestones, and sprints. 

Audience: Dev teams as it’s highly technical and will only likely make sense to the people working on the product’s development. 

5. External roadmap 

Purpose: To highlight the value and benefits of a product so customers and prospective customers can anticipate what to expect.

Audience: The public. Potential investors, customers, or anyone who may take an interest in the product. 

For an example of an external roadmap, take a look at the product roadmap video shared with our customers in 2023.

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 document, 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.

A features request board in monday dev, representing a key part of the product roadmap. The board is separated into two sections, Apps and Framework. There's items under these including "Zapier integration," "Dark mode," and "Add permissions section." There's a section for statuses, priority, dates and tags.

  • Release plan: You’ll need an integration with a calendar, Gantt Chart, or similar visual tool that shows the planned release dates, as well as what features will be included in each release.

A product roadmap gantt chart in monday dev. Includes a timeline and breaks up the sections into Q3 plans and Q4 plans.

  • Resource allocation: Plan out the resources you’ll need for the product, in terms of headcount, capacity, time, budget, technical resources, and anything else you’ll need on hand to get the job done.

A product roadmap resource allocation board in monday dev. It breaks the project overview through team workload.

  • Analytic 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.

What should an Agile product roadmap include?

If you’re using the Agile approach instead of traditional waterfall planning, your roadmap may 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 throughout your developmental cycle. 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 integrate 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 an Agile approach or not, monday dev lets your team design the roadmap you need, and then seamlessly manage your development cycle with one easy-to-use platform.

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How do you structure a product roadmap to reach your product goals?

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. This is common for Agile teams and is easy to implement because the logical order is self-explanatory.

Theme -> epic -> user story

Common Agile themes include may be user experience enhancement, performance optimization, new feature development, market expansion, and so on. 

Say your theme is user experience enhancement. Your epic should then make this theme actionable and could include points like simplifying the onboarding process, improving navigation, and enhancing the mobile experience.

Then, the user story needs to respond to the requests brought up in epics with specific plans or features. In this scenario, for the point brought about by simplifying the onboarding process, a user story 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 whichever unit of time you prefer).  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.

How to create a product roadmap?

  1. Define your product strategy, vision, and product goals

The first step, to define the “why” behind your product, is arguably the most important. It’s the foundation that holds up your entire product and strategy that will propel it to success. This high-level understanding of your product should incorporate why you’re creating a product, who your customers are, why your product is unique, and how it will perform in the market based on stats and research. Think, what are your specific, measurable goals and objectives that will bring your product vision to life? 

  1. Describe and prioritize features 

The next step is to take all this preliminary information to dig a little deeper into the specific features that will comprise a product. Focus on market research, feedback from current or prospective customers, and stakeholder input to plan out the features you will focus on. Then prioritize features by importance. You can take from a few different prioritization frameworks including the MOSCOW method (Moscow stands for stands for “must-have,” “should-have,” “could-have,” and “won’t-have). 

  1. Organize releases into a timeline

Next, you’ll have to deal with the “when.” Pick your timeframe, whether it’s months, days, quarters, or whatever best works for your team. You’ll then map out, after considering project dependencies and resource allocation, when each feature can be released. This step also involves specifying and integrating tasks that must be completed for each time phase. 

  1. Decide how to visualize your roadmap 

A product roadmap is essentially useless if nobody can properly understand it. The information should be broken down in the most intuitive way possible for its audience, potentially going beyond a traditional roadmap document. Here’s where roadmap views come in. There are different ways to visualize your roadmap including a timeline view, Gantt view, Kanban view, and more. 

To make creating your product roadmap as painless as possible, you’ll need a tool that streamlines the process and allows you to pick from multiple views. monday dev is built with product teams in mind, providing all the necessary elements to make your roadmap as effective as possible.

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, analytics tracker, and communication tools in the same location.

product roadmap sprint management board in monday dev. Includes columns for sprints, owner, status, timeline, date.

  • Save time with a done-for-you product roadmap template and a complete package of views, widgets, integrations, and dashboards (or build your own if you prefer).
  • Automate repetitive tasks and save your team time with 150+ pre-built, customizable automations.product roadmap automation example in monday dev. This one says 2 months before timeline end date arrives notify epic owner.
  • 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.

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!

FAQs about product roadmaps

Put simply, an internal roadmap is meant for teams to align and understand the vision and execution of a product while an external roadmap (also known as a customer-facing roadmap) is created for the public to stay informed and alert about the product and its updates.

The product strategy states the vision and goals, while the product roadmap maps out how these visions and goals will be executed. For a product roadmap to be successful, there first needs to be a clear and established product strategy.

IT or tech roadmaps are product roadmaps for engineering teams to deal with the specifics of product implementation.

Rosanna is a freelance content writer who writes non-boring content for B2B SaaS clients like ThoughtSpot, Lattice and She lives in Spain with her husband, her son, and a beagle puppy who eats her furniture. Learn more about her here:
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