What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a visual document that communicates the steps you plan to take to meet your product vision over time.
Product roadmapping helps you communicate where your product stands today, the direction in which it’s moving and how you expect to get there.
Roadmaps are frequently adjusted by product managers to reflect market changes, internal issues and as customer needs and desires shift. For this reason, the product roadmap is the most up-to-date reference for your product strategy.
Product Roadmapping Best Practices
What does a product roadmap look like?
A good product roadmap is visual, clear and accessible enough for everyone involved to understand. Here’s an example of a theme-based roadmap:
A roadmap represents your product strategy, so it should include the topics you would generally discuss in a product strategy meeting:
- Business goals and objectives
- Product areas
- Order of priorities
Sharing your product roadmap
Sharing the product roadmap can help companies shift towards a culture of internal transparency. It helps product leaders manage expectations with external stakeholders, including customers and investors.
We also recommend creating a customer-friendly version of your roadmap that can be shared publicly, without sacrificing your team’s ability to adapt to new information.
Who sees your internal product roadmap?
The purpose of an internal product roadmap is to help teams across your organization align their team-level goals and objectives to your wider product and business goals.
Each team benefits from looking at the product roadmap – but each uses the roadmap for different purposes:
- Product Marketing: Marketing teams refer to the product roadmap as they prepare for launching a product or a new release, to develop pricing models.
- Engineering: Engineering teams refer to the product roadmap to help them plan for upcoming projects. It gives them access to user requirements, needs and overall product goal. It also helps them plan their hiring forecast, make team adjustments and plan their upcoming sprints.
- Customer Support: Customer support teams use the product roadmap to respond to customer feedback and requests with upcoming fixes and upgrades that may be coming down the pipeline.
- Sales: Sales teams refer to the product roadmap to communicate future product plans and functionality to potential customers. They can use this information to win over new leads as well as reach out to old leads with news of new or improved functionality.
- CEO and Executive Teams: Top-level execs usually refer to a high-level product roadmap for strategic planning meetings and product strategy sessions.
Who sees your external product roadmap?
It’s a good idea to share a “lite” version of your product roadmap with stakeholders outside of your company if you want to share the direction you’re taking your product.
- Existing Customers: Your existing customers are the biggest source of upgrades, upsells and investment. Share your upcoming plans with them.
- Leads and Potential Customers: Making your product roadmap available to potential customers helps them assess whether you’re working on a product that may be useful to them in the future. This can help you win over customers
- Investors, VCs and Board of Directors: Your roadmap can help you present your product strategy during pitch meetings with VCs. If you already have investors, your roadmap can also help you keep investors posted on what you plan to work on in the future. Corporate-level roadmap communicates vision, goals and short-term vs. long-term product strategy.