Roadmap is one of the favorite tools of the product team. It is used to capture and communicate the strategy and progress of products, releases and features. It tells the stakeholders how the product will evolve over time.
But roadmaps aren't the same as product backlogs. It is more of a high level representation. It is a guidance document that is used to align leadership, marketing, sales, finance with the product vision and what it’ll look like in a month, a quarter, a year, etc.
So, when you want to tell your audience about what you want to deliver and when you want to deliver it, you use a roadmap.
Now that you are pretty clear about the need of a roadmap, how do you start building one?
A lot of project management softwares automatically creates a roadmap based on your product debt. Also a lot of ready made templates are available online. While these are good, I would suggest you start with a framework first and then use any template /software. The framework I use has 3 simple steps.
1 : Define your Audience
Who’s your audience? Leadership, Engineering, or Sales & Marketing, etc. If you are preparing the roadmap for the leadership you need to consider entire product modules and not individual features. Consider a year as the time period. Something like an AOP (Annual Operating Plan). But if you are doing it for Engineering you might be building it for a quarter or may be a month. Break it down to sprint wise features and user stories.
2 : Define modules, features or requirements
Like I said above, based on the audience the line items in your roadmap will be different. Let’s say you are the product manager of a Purchase Management System. And you are building the said product. The modules of a purchase management system are Purchase Orders, Replenishment Planning and Vendor Management. So when you create a roadmap for the leadership, the line items will be these three. You most likely present how much each of these will be completed in each quarter. Something like below.
But then you’ll have three different engineering teams working on each of these modules. So when you create the roadmap for the engineering team, you’ll have to go deeper. Both in the line items and in the time period. You’ll have a month-wise plan and feature wise representation. Your roadmap for the Engineering teams will be something as below.
Similarly based on the releases planned, you can create a roadmap for the Sales and Marketing team so that they can prepare marketing materials and set customer expectations accordingly.
3: Choose a view
I have already chosen a couple of views in the pictures above. But you may choose different views according to your needs. Some PMs prefer views like the one below. It helps them create a single roadmap document for multiple stakeholders. Depending on the audience, they can adjust the line items to Epic, Stories, Features, Milestone levels.
Remember that roadmap is a planning tool. So you need to continuously review and update it as and when the plan changes.
That’s all folks. Until Next Time.