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How to Create a Product Roadmap for Agile Projects – A Definitive Guide

03.02.20221 min read

A product roadmap is a high-level overview of where an organization’s product is and where it’s headed in the future. The product roadmap functions as a vision board where the organization’s product vision is outlined over a period of time, typically 12 months.

The roadmap also serves as a time-bound vision board that shows the projects in project management to be planned for the future and how it’s used for tracking project progress.

Why do you need a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a non-negotiable agile development tool for any organization that intends to keep building a competitive product.

Here are five key reasons why a product roadmap is a must.

1. Planning and vision casting

A product roadmap serves as the key tool an organization employs to plan ahead, visualize where they intend to be, and what targets they plan to achieve soon.

2. Communication and collaboration

A product roadmap offers a single source of truth where the project management team and all relevant stakeholders can have a unified view, agree, and see how exactly a project is progressing.

3. High-level data for stakeholders

A product roadmap gives project stakeholders an easy tool to visualize where a product is headed, without having to sift through minutiae.

4. Priority tracking

A product roadmap software offers an easy tool for product teams to determine which features to determine, judging by the time allotted, and how they tie into other more critical features.

5. Focus

A product roadmap makes it easy to focus on the big picture. With a clear outline of where the product is headed in the future, broken down into smaller goals, the product management software can review periodically to ensure the tasks they’re completing day-to-day are bringing them closer to their overall product vision.

Types of product roadmaps

There are different types of product roadmaps that an organization can leverage to fit into their big picture and meet their need to create winning products for their users.

1. Audience-based roadmaps

Audience-based roadmaps are designed primarily to meet the information needs of an audience, keep them updated, and in line with the product development team’s efforts.

Audience-based roadmaps can either be:

  • internal roadmaps, which are created to inform internal stakeholders, such as investors, etc., on where a product is headed, or
  • external roadmaps, which are created to keep external stakeholders, like customers, on track with the product vision

2. Industry-dependent roadmaps

Industry-dependent road-mapping arises from an organization’s need to address product development from a technical standpoint.

Industry-dependent roadmaps include:

  • technology roadmaps, which address long-term product development by matching goals with available technology solutions
  • manufacturing roadmaps, which serve as a guide to the step by step delivery of products

3. Purpose-dependent roadmaps

Technically, all roadmaps are purpose-dependent, but in this scenario, they refer to either:

  • market roadmaps
  • portfolio roadmaps

Market roadmaps plan from a go-to-market outlook, i.e. coordinating teams and resources to release products for customers, while portfolio roadmaps outline a project portfolio management’s product line strategy, i.e. the products lined up to be developed as time progresses.

4. Format roadmaps

Roadmap formatting is simply structuring roadmaps, depending on how you intend to use the data it’ll contain.

Roadmaps can be formatted to be:

  • theme-based
  • goal-based
  • feature-based

What does a product roadmap include?

1. Product vision

A clear outline of where the product is headed in the future, detailing the features that need to be built, improvements that need to be made, and what the product is becoming.

2. Strategy

A breakdown of how exactly the organization plans to hit each of the targets outlined on the roadmap. A product roadmap isn’t just an abstract goal or wish but must include a detailed project plan for getting to the endpoints the organization has projected.

3. Goals

Clearly defined project objectives that are time-bound, and can be tracked in measurable terms.

4. Timing

No organization has forever to create change and so, to be competitive, a product roadmap needs to factor in timing to ensure project progress can be tracked as time goes on.

5. Tracking metrics

No goal can be achieved without first defining what success looks like. Project tracking software should have a product roadmap that must contain definite metrics for determining when a target has been achieved.

6. Status tracking

For keeping track of the objectives and deliverables envisioned for the product, to know when they’ve been planned, when they’re in progress, and when they’re completed.

How to create a product roadmap for agile projects

Knowing how important a product roadmap is to an organization’s growth, it’s far more critical determining how to build one. The product road-mapping process is key to how the entire roadmap eventually ends up.

1. Define strategic goals

What are the outcomes we intend to achieve from this roadmap? Clearly establish (in measurable terms) the objectives you plan on achieving by using the project roadmap you have at hand.

2. Establish product priorities

What matters in this product above all else? What are our key outcomes? In what areas does this product need improvement? How can this product be further built out?

3. Prioritize product priorities

With your product priorities carefully outlined, it’s important to organize them all in order of importance. Examine how each product priority ties into others and thereby elect those which are more critical to your long-term goals. Arrange in order of importance.

4. Develop your roadmap

Schedule each product priority with a time window within which it must be delivered. Project management templates are designed for easy planning with goals and a timeframe in mind.

5. Share your roadmap

Once your roadmap is finished, it’s time to share the outline of your project with your stakeholders as you begin executing your project.