In our last blog, we broke down the different phases of the product lifecycle. Each phase contributes to the potential of a product’s success once it hits the market, and they all have their levels of importance. The planning phase, however, is where we put together an essential component of product development–the product roadmap.
So, what is a product roadmap?
The product roadmap is responsible for communicating the overall strategy, direction, and progress of the product as it goes through its lifecycle. It’s a continually changing document and includes details about your product, and the necessary work required to meet your product goals. “A product roadmap is a hands-on strategic tool-not a static document.” –Andre Theus, VP of Marketing at ProductPlan.
There’s no cookie-cutter format for a roadmap, and sometimes multiple roadmaps are created and or combined to cover the strategy for the product from beginning to end. Roadmaps will also vary depending on who your audience is, such as internal or external stakeholders, investors, marketing and sales, other internal departments, customers, and vendors. With that said, a good product roadmap is likely to consist of many of these key components:
Components like these help build a full view of your product’s strategic development and keep a clear line of communication for all of the parties involved. It’s important to remember that there are many different variations and examples of roadmaps that are created and utilized in the product planning phase. While some product teams use individualized roadmaps covering specific areas like features or releases, many product teams use a combination of multiple roadmaps to compile high-level information for all users. A few roadmaps that a product team might use are:
Single Product & Multiple Product Roadmap
Depending on how many products you’re focusing on, you can compile a multiple product roadmap or a single product roadmap. With a single product roadmap, you’re focusing on one product and developing a high-level strategy that can be communicated through departments for one product lifecycle. If you’re responsible for more than one product, you could essentially create a single roadmap for each product. However, product teams that are focusing on several products generally utilize multiple product roadmaps. This form of road mapping not only lets you compile multiple product strategies but also gives you a strategic view of each product’s developmental journey as compared to your other products.
Market & Strategy Roadmap
A market and strategy roadmap is going to provide insight into what markets you’re targeting with your product and how you plan to have the product cater to that market. It’s a great way to plan out entry into each market sector. You’re also going to use this roadmap to break down your overall strategy. Here, your roadmap will show a high-level representation of your strategic efforts and product initiatives. It’s an excellent tool for internal communications between involved departments and the aforementioned external stakeholders.
Features & Releases Roadmap
As Andre Theus stated, the roadmap is not a static document, meaning, it will undergo continuous changes and updates throughout the entire product lifecycle. Features and releases roadmaps will highlight the timeline and delivery of critical feature updates that are necessary to bring the product to its market release. It’s a useful resource when you’re providing details to departments like marketing and sales.
A visionary roadmap is a great tool for highlighting trends within the industry and market you’re entering, and how your product will fit and evolve over time. It gives product teams and other internal departments insight into the future of the product once it enters its target market.
While product road mapping can vary depending on the product, goals, and audience; it’s a vital part of the product planning phase and a direct contributor to a product’s overall success throughout its lifecycle.