You recently came up with a great idea for a new product or app, and you’re certain it’s going to change the way people work and live. The problem is, you’re not sure how to turn this million-dollar concept into something tangible.
That’s where a product roadmap comes in. Similar to a paper map that guides you to a physical destination — or these days, an interactive mobile app with turn-by-turn directions — a product roadmap lays out the route you need to take to develop and market your product.
Typically, a product roadmap represents the journey from a high-level idea to a marketable product. It uses flowcharts, graphs, matrices, and other elements to illustrate the product’s journey, including market research, project status, features, and requirements.
Startups aren’t the only organizations that use product roadmaps. Corporations develop them to lay the groundwork for future releases, both for consumer products and internal offerings, such as proprietary software.
When building an effective product roadmap to bring your idea to life, it’s important to know what exactly needs to go into it — and why. This guide will take you through the most critical pieces of a product roadmap and offer a step-by-step blueprint to build your own. By the end, you’ll know
- Why you should use a product roadmap. It’s not just the development team that will benefit from one — stakeholders, management, and others in your organization will find it useful too.
- How to build a product roadmap, complete with best practices.
- The basics of product roadmap planning, such as how to start with your vision and use forms to capture feature requests, production notes, and development information.
- Tips for choosing a format, such as goal-oriented, feature-based, and theme-based.
- How to visually represent different types of product roadmaps, like portfolio, feature, and release roadmaps, and what each type of roadmap includes.
- Best practices and tips for designing product roadmaps, as well as the importance of investing in product roadmap software to streamline the process and keep projects on schedule.
An effective product roadmap will ensure you meet important milestones as you develop your product, whether it be an app, gadget, or software. Let’s get started.
Why use a product roadmap?
There’s a reason why most people use a navigation system when traveling to a new destination: They want to take the most efficient route with the least amount of traffic. The concept is the same with a product roadmap — using one provides a clear path during project development, taking you step by step from idea to launch.
Similar to a GPS, a product roadmap lets you change course if there’s a problem. If you’re driving, this may take the form of a closed highway exit or an accident up ahead. When developing an app, you may find that coding a particular feature requires extensive testing. A product roadmap will help you and project stakeholders adjust the testing needed or substitute the troublesome feature with a different one.
Benefits of a product roadmap
Not only does a product roadmap help you adjust how you’ll get to the finished product, but it also helps align your team and stakeholders. A roadmap provides a set of expectations and guidance, and defines what you’ll focus on in the short and long term.
The best part is that it’s not set in stone. Like a GPS that detours you around a traffic jam or allows you to input a quick coffee stop, a product roadmap provides a way to add requested features or remove items that no longer work.
A product roadmap also helps you connect small pieces into something bigger. Software development is a great example. It takes teams of user experience designers, coders, quality assurance testers, and more to create a working app. The roadmap shows each team what’s needed from them at different stages of development.
In software development, a product roadmap also helps prevent scope creep. With all features and corresponding delivery dates laid out, stakeholders can see firsthand what will happen if they request a new add-on or want to push something out.
Let’s say you’re working on a mobile expense report app. The business stakeholders want to prioritize the ability to scan paper receipts with a device’s camera. But to do that, you’d have to delay adding the dropdown category menu. A product roadmap would provide stakeholders with that insight, allowing them to make the final call on whether it makes sense to delay one aspect to fast-track another.
What’s in it for management
Team members working on a product aren’t the only ones who benefit from a product roadmap. Management can benefit too, as the roadmap provides them with a high-level overview of a project at any given time or stage of development.
A manager may not be privy to the development team’s daily decisions, but the roadmap can help them understand what’s happening and why. It provides updates, such as what stage a product is in, and the status of various requests.
For example, management may be eagerly awaiting the release of the expense report app. With a product roadmap, they can see that the developers are writing code for the dropdown category menu or testing the accuracy of the character recognition for receipt scanning.
The product roadmap also gives management additional information, such as who is in charge of testing code or current outstanding requests. Some product roadmaps may even let someone view what-if scenarios, such as moving up the release date.
Finally, if the project needs additional funding, the product roadmap can help management understand why. For instance, if a new feature requested by a high-level executive is added to the product, the roadmap should reflect that.
How the product team wins
The development team can benefit from a product roadmap as well. For starters, it helps unify the team by letting everyone know where they are in the development journey — ensuring everyone stays on the same page.
App development typically includes several team members, including coders and user experience (UX) designers. A product roadmap lets each person know what’s expected of them and when. The UX designers may need to provide wireframes before the coders can begin, for instance.
This also helps foster communication among team members. If the quality assurance team is struggling with a feature, they can work with the coding team to debug it. Similarly, if one team is falling behind due to an unforeseen issue, they can alert the workers involved in the next step or request help to get back on course.
The product team can also better prioritize tasks and requests. For instance, they can determine which features to work on first, such as a way to scan receipts and automatically populate an expense report.
One of the biggest pros to a product roadmap is that it helps motivate the team to push forward. They know what’s coming next and why it matters, so they’re more likely to work hard to overcome challenges, such as coding issues or difficulty designing a user interface.
The benefits to product developers
Product developers stand to gain a lot from a product roadmap. It provides clear direction for a project at a high level, which helps the team stay on course as members continue to work on a product.
During software development, it’s easy to get sidetracked with new features and requests. The product roadmap offers a way to stop scope creep as stakeholders begin to ask for more features, like color-coding the expense report mentioned earlier.
Instead, the developers can pull out the roadmap and explain to the stakeholders why they can’t add a new feature at this stage of development. They’re able to demonstrate what might happen, such as a delay in releasing the final product.
Most important, a product roadmap allows the team to say no. If adding a new feature will completely derail the team’s plan, they can explain why to the stakeholders.
Product developers can also make faster decisions with the guidance of a roadmap. For example, they may notice they’re ahead on designing a user interface and choose to start working on code using the wireframes.
On the other hand, they may see an upcoming delay that could prevent the product from launching on time. A product roadmap allows them to take action before it’s too late.
Focusing on individual tasks also becomes easier because the product roadmap provides a logical sequence for what comes next. Everyone knows what needs to be done, whether it’s creating the code snippet for a menu or testing a user interface on different mobile devices.
Ultimately, everyone involved in the product’s development — from the management team funding the project to the developers themselves — can benefit from a product roadmap. It’s a great way to make sure all stakeholders know what’s expected of them and where the project is headed.
How to build a product roadmap
Now that you know what a product roadmap is and why it’s beneficial, you’re probably wondering how to build one. In short, several components should be included in a product roadmap — and there are various best practices you should implement to get the most out of one.
Before you get started, it’s important to note that you’re not creating static documents. You’ll need to update your roadmap based on tasks completed, new and evolving issues, and last-minute feature requests to satisfy stakeholders.
Here’s the best way to build a product roadmap that will steer your idea from inception to release.
Start with the strategy
The first step in creating a product roadmap is defining the strategy for your product. Ask yourself
- What business goals does the product align with?
- Who will use the product?
- How does the product solve a problem?
- What makes the product different from anything else on the market?
For instance, say you work for a financial software company, and your idea is to create a mobile app that syncs employee expenses from mobile devices to a central expense report system. You may answer the above questions as follows:
- Creating this app aligns with our goal to expand our user base by 15 percent in the next year, as it offers a valuable addition to our expense reporting product.
- Companies with distributed workforces will be the primary users of the product, although it will likely appeal to any company with employees who need to file expense reports.
- This product solves the problem of employees manually attaching their receipts to expense reports and entering additional information. It allows employees to be more efficient and ensures they receive reimbursements quickly.
- Currently, existing solutions are challenging to use and require a great deal of user training. While some apps allow syncing to various cloud-based expense report systems, our product will be a dedicated open app that can be used as an add-on for our system or others.
Consider this the starting point for your roadmap, one that will guide the decisions you make as you develop your product.
As you build a product roadmap, it’s crucial to include product requirements. These can include necessary features, such as artificial intelligence to categorize an expense automatically.
Starting with existing products will help because you can use them to identify unmet needs. For example, when looking at a competitor’s app, you may notice that the user interface is cluttered and difficult to navigate.
You may learn more about the many requirements by talking to your sales and marketing team. This is especially helpful if you’re developing a product that’s an improvement to an older one. These teams can tell you what customers’ issues are, such as difficulties clicking on radio buttons.
Stakeholders will also be valuable sources as you sketch out requirements and add them to the product roadmap. The next section will discuss ways to gather this information from various sources.
During app development, there are two types of releases: engineering releases and market releases, both of which need to be in the product roadmap. The engineering release typically occurs months before the market release. Various stakeholders will want to know when each one is happening.
The market release will be especially important for senior management. They’ll want to know when they can expect the investment in the new product to pay off, though that generally won’t happen until customers can begin paying to use an app after the official release.
Prepare a timeline
When planning a timeline for a new product, the best practice is to avoid hard deadlines. A product roadmap needs to be flexible to allow team members to pivot if problems arise.
Instead of a timeline that states wireframes will be delivered on June 1 and code-testing will begin on September 1, consider a broader time frame. This is particularly useful if you’re creating a complex product or app, which may require more time than you expected to work out the kinks. Quarterly deadlines may be more appropriate.
You can also forgo dates altogether and focus on a time frame for different stages of the product. For instance, you can aim to complete the wireframes two months after receiving final approval for the project. Coding can begin immediately afterward, and you can schedule it to take about four months.
Much like actual lanes in a swimming pool, a swimlane on a product roadmap shows tasks in parallel. It appears similar to a bar chart, with the bars at a staggered start instead of beginning at one point. You’ll group tasks by priority, with some overlapping.
The idea behind swimlanes is to provide stakeholders with an easy way to view the overall development of the product. For example, they may see high-priority tasks, such as developing the iOS and Android versions of the app, grouped together, because these tasks are supposed to occur in parallel.
Keep it high level
As you create a product roadmap, keep in mind that the information within it is intended to be high level. You don’t need to dive into too much detail, such as the type of programming language you’ll use. The idea is to have a document that’s understandable for management, product, and development teams so everyone knows what to expect.
The more high level a product roadmap is, the easier it is to share with customers. For instance, if large enterprise customers are asking the sales team about the availability of a mobile app, sales can provide the roadmap in answer to their questions.
Make it easy to understand
Finally, a product roadmap isn’t useful unless the stakeholders can understand it. Use clean graphics to convey information and color-code different types of tasks. For example, all coding tasks are blue, while all testing tasks are orange.
Ultimately, the roadmap will be the guiding document as you create a marketable product or app. Make sure it’s something the team can work with as you progress through the project.
Product roadmap planning
Without a vision and a goal, a company can veer off course — maybe even to the point where its product never goes to market. If you’re starting a company for the sole purpose of developing a product, it’s critical to have a vision statement and corresponding goals before you begin product roadmap planning.
Consider this: In the first year, 95 percent of new products fail, and that’s not limited to products from scrappy startups. New Coke in 1985 and the more recent Kohler AI-enabled toilet are prime examples. Both came from established brands, and both fell flat.
Building a vision and goals
To be part of the 5 percent of products that succeed, start with a vision and a few goals for the product or the company you’re building to produce that product. It’s important to take a long-term view of where you want to go after the product launch — don’t limit yourself to a release date.
For instance, your post-launch goal for the product could be to reach $1 million in revenue in five years. This goal will help shape your product roadmap. You may include features that appeal to companies willing to spend more for a software product that improves productivity.
It helps to write down your vision in a clear statement. In some cases, you’ll want to share your vision, particularly if you’re looking for investors or stakeholder buy-in.
Keep it short and to the point. The vision statement could be as simple as, “To simplify and streamline how companies manage travel and expense reports.” This would give you wiggle room to release new products or build on your existing release.
Using forms for feature requests
Once you’ve defined your vision and goals, collecting feature requests from stakeholders is the next step. A feature request is what someone would like to see in a new product. For example, in a financial management program, it could be automated monthly closings.
To make this process easier, you can send a feature request form to stakeholders or potential users. This form can be as straightforward or as complicated as needed to gather the relevant information. Include some basic fields in the form:
- What feature they’re requesting
- As much information as possible about the feature they want
- How the feature will help them
A feature request form will also need fields to collect contact information so you can follow up with users, particularly if you want to include them in user acceptance testing later on.
If you’re creating a feature request form for stakeholders inside the company, you can include fields like the name of their department, their position, and how often they use specific programs. Forms for users outside the company can request contact information and the type of business they have (if your product is being designed for businesses).
You can send feature request forms to stakeholders via email, or post a link on a company intranet or social media site. This helps you reach a broad audience, particularly if you’re trying to gather information from users outside your company.
Using forms to collect these requests keeps all your data in one place. This will make it easier to manage requests, including forwarding the feature request to the developer who may be able to code it as well as respond to users.
Using forms for production notes
Forms are also useful for keeping production notes. As the team completes tasks for the project, they can fill out forms to report on the status.
For example, the testing team can use forms to note the results of quality tests. As they photograph receipts, they may notice that the receipts aren’t uploading to the expense report system. Noting this on a form that’s sent directly to the development team can get the problem fixed faster.
Developers can use production notes to record solutions they’ve found to challenges or reported problems. In the receipt capture example, they might note that changing a small snippet of code solved the problem.
Forms can also be useful for storing production notes in one place and comparing the notes to the product roadmap. For instance, you may learn that you’re ahead of schedule on quality testing and can start user acceptance testing sooner.
Using forms to capture development progress
These forms also help create reports to share with stakeholders. You can record updates, give details about the challenges you’re having with development, and communicate the goals you have moving forward. By using a PDF template, you can automatically create a professional report to present.
This is especially useful if you have regular meetings with investors or management. Instead of recreating a report from scratch every time, you can fill out a template that will provide valuable information to those sponsoring the project.
For instance, one of the challenges you may face in the development progress is coding a feature like auto-tagging. Even though your developers have integrated an optical character recognition (OCR) package from another vendor, the feature might not be able to recognize receipts unless the picture is crystal clear.
The development team can note this snag in a software development progress report form and propose a solution. That could be anything from finding another OCR vendor to coding the OCR themselves.
Better product roadmap planning
All the information you collect through forms can help you refine your product roadmap. If you need to build in more time or you’re ahead of schedule, you can adjust the roadmap accordingly.
You can also use this information to update stakeholders on project status or make the case for more funding. Being able to present data in a logical, presentable format helps build your credibility, particularly if you’re a startup meeting with investors.
The result is that you can better plan your product roadmap and deal with feature requests, production notes, and product development, as well as stay organized throughout the process.
Picking a product roadmap format
Not every product roadmap looks the same. The format you choose should suit your specific project and all those involved.
There are three main types of product roadmaps: goal-oriented, theme-based, and feature-based. Each has benefits and drawbacks. Visuals will represent different components of the roadmap, such as features or goals, and these will be grouped according to the type of roadmap.
Regardless of what you choose, a product roadmap format includes a timeline, the features that will be released according to the timeline, and various goals. It also consists of a strategy for developing and releasing the product, status markers to track progress, and metrics to measure progress.
Here are how the three product roadmap formats break down — and when to choose one over the other.
Goal-oriented product roadmap
As the name implies, a goal-oriented product roadmap groups information together and clearly explains it. Particular product features exist because of goals. These features can be as simple as “automatically upload expense receipts.”
This roadmap is best used when you want to keep the information presented at a high level. For instance, you’d create a goal product roadmap to show management or investors the “why” of your product and each feature.
To visually demonstrate these goals, group them by function, such as sales, human resources, and finance. Someone looking at this roadmap should see the business benefits of adding different features. “Automatically upload expense receipts” can translate into “more productivity for employees,” for instance.
Using a goal-oriented product roadmap not only helps management and investors, but it also helps keep developers motivated. They can see firsthand how the features they’re working on will benefit users or the company as a whole.
Theme-based product roadmap
Like a goal-oriented product roadmap, a theme-based product roadmap groups related items. Both of these roadmaps answer the “why” of features.
However, in a theme-based roadmap, several goals are grouped into themes. The themes might be platforms, features, integrations, or marketing for the new product. Under each one, you’ll list corresponding goals.
For example, the roadmap might group all the platforms you plan to release your app on — web, iOS, and Android. The goal is to release the app, and the theme is the platform. In the roadmap, you might plan to release the web app in Q1, the iOS app in Q2, and the Android app in Q3.
Product feature roadmap
The product feature roadmap is straightforward and lists the features you plan to add to your product, such as automatically tagging receipts. You’ll list sub-features underneath in a hierarchy, such as categories or optical character recognition. This type of roadmap is more detailed than others.
The biggest advantage of using a product feature roadmap is that it lets you see how features relate to one another, instead of just looking at a list. Viewers of a product feature roadmap can see details about how the product will come together.
Because you can set up a product feature roadmap with epics, stories, and tasks, it’s ideal for developers and project managers. However, it’s not a high-level view, making it more difficult for a nontechnical viewer to understand.
Additionally, product feature roadmaps may frequently change due to the marketplace. A new technology or business need might need to restructure some features, such as eliminating an integration with a software system that’s no longer supported. It can be more difficult to change a product feature roadmap.
Other types of product roadmaps
If you’re looking for another type of product roadmap to represent how you’ll build your product, there are a few other choices: time-based, now-next-later, strategy, portfolio, release, market, and technology.
A time-based roadmap focuses purely on the timeline of the product, such as the general dates when features will be released. This is useful for marketing teams to plan campaigns. However, time-based roadmaps don’t include strict timelines because they can set expectations too high.
The now-next-later roadmap is ideal for agile teams, helping them see what will be next in the project. It uses three categories — now, next, and later — with tasks placed in the appropriate slots. Those that are in the “now” bucket may be more detailed, while tasks in “later” may be more high level.
Similar to a goal project roadmap, a strategy roadmap is very high level. You can use it both internally and externally to communicate general product information, with some specificity about features.
A release roadmap is created for customers. It includes different functions that will become available in the product, though it usually doesn’t include many details because it’s meant for an external audience.
A portfolio roadmap is typically presented to executives and product managers. It’s another high-level document that’s useful when you’re working on multiple products at once. It helps viewers see how different products relate to each other and how they’re helping the business meet its goals.
If you’re planning to release your product in multiple markets, such as the U.S. and Europe, you’ll want to prepare a market roadmap. This helps the marketing department plan its strategy. You’ll need to update this roadmap frequently as the market changes.
Finally, a technology roadmap, or an IT roadmap, is a very detailed document similar to a product feature roadmap. It’s created alongside a strategy roadmap and is meant to help internal teams determine what they need to develop the product.
Ultimately, you’ll choose what kind of product roadmap to use, and you may even use more than one. It will be important to create the right roadmap for the right audience, so consider who will be looking at the roadmap as you begin working on different ones.
Product roadmap visualization
What’s more helpful when you’re driving: visualizing the turns ahead or being told to turn in half a mile? Seeing that the turn is at the next intersection is often more helpful.
In product development, you can write that the next feature will be released in Q1 2021, but that has little meaning to someone who wants to see how all the pieces fit together. That’s why product roadmap visualization is so important: It provides a high-level overview to help a stakeholder understand what will happen as the product is developed.
Using a visual product roadmap has many benefits because people tend to be visual by nature. Think of how often you’ve given directions and said, “Turn left at Main Street. It’s the intersection with the Art Deco building.” The same holds true with product roadmaps.
Some of the top advantages of creating a visual product roadmap include
- Clearly communicating to different stakeholders how your product will be developed. For instance, showing the cadence of different phases of development, such as coding and testing, helps stakeholders understand the general timeline of the project.
- Offering a persuasive argument for your product and its features. If you’re using a goal product roadmap, in particular, you can illustrate the benefits of adding a particular feature, such as optical character recognition for images.
- Assisting with feature prioritization. As you collect feedback and feature requests from users and stakeholders, you’ll want to know which are most important for the product to have. Just like a wall full of sticky notes, a product roadmap can help align features with business priorities and goals.
Here’s what you need to know about visually representing your product roadmap.
Product roadmap examples
As discussed in the previous section, there are various types of product roadmaps. Whether you’re using a product roadmap template or designing one yourself, you should include a few important visual elements:
- Stories are quick development tasks that will help reach a specific goal. Essentially, they describe what you want to get from a particular feature in the context of something larger, such as the ability to recognize text in a photographed receipt. You’ll typically describe this in terms of end user needs.
- Epics are a collection of stories that typically take longer to complete. You might work on epics for three to four months to accomplish one objective in your product development.
- Initiatives are made up of a collection of epics. This is where you start to see the hierarchy of tasks because initiatives include work that’s been requested from different teams.
- Themes often have tasks organized under them. They help label and categorize tasks and align them to the company’s goals.
Depending on the audience for the roadmap, you might not use all of these elements. Some of the available choices include a strategy roadmap, a portfolio roadmap, a feature roadmap, and a release roadmap. Here’s how they break down.
As mentioned in the previous section, a strategy roadmap is fairly high level and doesn’t offer much detail about features. Instead, it offers an overview and links the product strategy to its execution.
A strategy roadmap focuses on the what and the why. It includes a vision of the product, goals for the product, and how you’ll develop it. You’ll likely use themes, initiatives, and even epics to tell the development story. And you’ll often use “swimlanes,” which look similar to a staggered bar chart, to represent these items.
What you won’t include are product features in any detail. A strategy roadmap is more of a bird’s-eye view of how the product will move from idea to marketable item.
If you’re developing multiple products at once, you might use a portfolio roadmap. This is another high-level roadmap; it shows how different products relate to one another. Therefore, it won’t go into much detail on features.
For example, as you’re developing the mobile app for expense reports, you might also be working on an update to existing financial reporting software. A portfolio roadmap would provide the strategy and timeline for both of those products in the same document so viewers can see how they’re being developed in parallel.
Typically, you would include themes, initiatives, and possibly epics to represent different stages of the product. Swimlanes would represent development, along with color-coding that corresponds to the products.
A feature roadmap, or a release roadmap, covers the features that will be included in the product. This is a fairly elastic document, as you may discover that certain features won’t work for the final product.
This type of roadmap may also be fairly high level because it’s geared toward external stakeholders as well as the internal development team. You’ll use themes, initiatives, and epics since you’re including specific features in this roadmap. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to drill down into stories.
For instance, you would present a feature roadmap to show that optical character recognition will be released after you’re done with the automatic category suggestions for receipts. This would alert the development team of what’s next and help set expectations for external stakeholders.
If you’re updating a product that already exists, a release roadmap is ideal for showing how you plan to improve it. You’ll use themes, initiatives, and epics to show new features, bug fixes, and improvements that will be available in the future. This type of roadmap usually shows three to six months at a time.
For instance, the next release of your expense reporting app will include an integration with a few more backend financial systems, as well as improvements to the current optical character recognition engine. You would use swimlanes to represent this on your release roadmap.
Populating product roadmaps
You may be wondering where you’ll get all this data. If you’ve been using Jotform to collect feature requests from users and stakeholders, you can use Jotform Tables to sort through them alphabetically, by date submitted, etc.
Product roadmap design tips
You can try your hand at product roadmap design, or you can use product roadmap software to make it easier. There are many advantages to choosing software — one of them being the ability to use premade templates to help create a clear visual representation of how your product will be developed.
One of the biggest benefits of product roadmap software is that it helps you organize everything related to the project in one place, allowing you to showcase milestones, deadlines, goals, and resources.
Product roadmap software also lets you revisit the roadmap and make changes as product development progresses. For example, you might fall behind on coding a feature because of a technical difficulty, forcing you to adjust the timelines for quality assurance testing.
Product roadmap software makes it easier to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders. You can collect feature requests from different sources, then share the results with a link to the roadmap. It’s a single place where stakeholders can look rather than a spreadsheet that may or may not live on someone’s hard drive.
In some cases, product roadmap software can guide you through the process of creating a roadmap. For instance, it may ask you to list the features you’re releasing, then help populate a visual roadmap with them.
Other software may let you drag and drop stories, epics, and initiatives into the most logical places for your product. For example, you might create an epic for automatically populating an expense report with details. Stories could include tasks to develop categories and integrate an optical character recognition engine.
Picking product roadmap software
Regardless of the particular software program you choose, make sure your roadmap is easy to understand. That’s where your software will come in — it will help create simple roadmaps for external stakeholders and more complex designs for internal teams.
When you design a product roadmap, it’s important to keep the intended audience in mind. Remember, too much detail will make it difficult for a nontechnical user to understand. Similar to customers, external stakeholders don’t need to know every story or epic that’s in development.
As you’re looking at different types of product roadmap software, here are some key features to consider:
- Templates. These will help you create different types of product roadmaps, such as goal-oriented or feature roadmaps. You should customize them to suit your product development life cycle, branding, and stakeholders.
- The ability to organize stories, epics, initiatives, and other elements by priority. This tells your development team what to focus on first, like coding input fields or designing the user interface for an app.
- Adaptability for changing situations. Based on marketplace conditions or other factors, you may want to change your product roadmap by adding or removing features or adjusting the timeline. Your software should be able to do that easily.
- Ease of collaboration. Whether it’s a way to collect data and view it — as you can with Jotform Tables — or share it with stakeholders, the software you select should be simple for you and your team to use. For instance, it should be easy to gather input and review the product roadmap regularly.
- Design features to detail types of tasks. Within product development, there will be a plethora of tasks for different teams: testing, development, and marketing, to name a few. Ideally, your product roadmap software will make it easy to provide more information on the types of tasks and what they entail.
- Ability to create timelines. While best practices for product roadmaps recommend avoiding hard deadlines, illustrating general timelines will help stakeholders visualize when different steps will be completed.
Ideally, the product roadmap software you choose will allow you to create different types of roadmaps and go into as much detail as necessary for the audience. For example, when you build a technical roadmap, you should be able to easily create stories underneath epics.
Other software considerations
The ultimate test of product roadmap software is how easy it is to use. If you’re confused about how to set up timelines or tasks, for instance, this may not be the best solution for your company.
Investigate how easy it is to integrate with other programs you use, like project management software. For instance, if you create a task in the product roadmap, you may want it to automatically add a task in an application like Asana and assign it to the appropriate person.
Whether or not this is a direct integration is up to your company and your staff’s comfort level. However, it should be fairly simple for you to connect product roadmap software with other programs, if you choose to do so.
Reporting will also be important in choosing a software solution. As you capture development and production notes, you’ll need to create reports for stakeholders, particularly management. These reports should be as easy to understand as your product roadmap — and should be simple for you to create, particularly since your focus is the product, not the report.
Say you’ve collected production notes and want to illustrate how the team’s findings during quality assurance testing are affecting development. The software you choose should let you pull that data into a report and offer premade templates so you don’t spend too much time designing the report.
The report view in Jotform Tables fills this need. With just a few clicks, you can create reports from the data you’ve collected.
Product roadmap software can make it easier to create a product roadmap. However, the tool you choose needs to include features that allow you to easily design a visual representation of the roadmap and share it with stakeholders.
Conclusion: Build a roadmap to product success
In today’s high-speed world, it’s easy to lose focus. Creating a product roadmap can help keep you on track, whether you’re developing a new app or building a physical product.
Every stakeholder can benefit from a product roadmap, including management, the development team, and users. These documents help visualize what’s to come, whether it’s a hotly anticipated feature or another task needed to get the product ready for market.
But building a product roadmap requires a clear vision and strategy. Without a vision, it’s nearly impossible to forge a path to the final, marketable item or app. Companies should also include the requirements for the product, such as various features, in the roadmap.
Forms are useful in product roadmap planning. You can use them to collect feature requests, production notes, and development information. You can then sort through the data to determine what’s most important to work on first or present to stakeholders.
When you’re preparing a product roadmap, it’s important to create roadmaps with the audience in mind. That’s why there are many different types of product roadmaps: goal-oriented, feature-based, and theme-based — each with a specific purpose and audience.
Use design best practices, such as stories, epics, and themes, to keep elements of the product roadmap organized. This applies to visual representations like strategy, portfolio, feature, and release roadmaps too.
In most cases, it’s worth investing in product roadmap software. These software packages can help create roadmaps that will keep projects on schedule and adjust the roadmap to account for any issues that may arise.
Now you’re ready to start creating product roadmaps for your next big idea.
I didn’t realize how many different types of product roadmaps there are! We’re in the early stages of developing a new mobile app (it will definitely change the world!), and we were trying to figure out how to best communicate to our investors and potential users the timeline of the project. First, I’m glad that we’re not supposed to use hard and fast deadlines because as experienced Ruby programmers, we know we’re going to run into issues. It just happens. But second, it’s also nice to know that we can take the same agile approach with our roadmap as we do with development. Adjust course! And keep moving forward!