Do you ever feel like your product team is working hard but not getting anywhere? Are you struggling to communicate the product strategy to stakeholders? A clear product roadmap can help you align your team’s efforts and achieve your goals.
But creating a clear roadmap can be challenging. You need a deep understanding of the market, user needs, and business goals.
In this post, you’ll find out what an Agile product roadmap is and how to create one that is easy to understand and follow. Let’s dive in.
What is an Agile Product Roadmap?
An Agile product roadmap is a visual representation that outlines the steps you’ll take to achieve your product goals. Your roadmap should be consistent with your strategy and aligned with the product vision.
In my visual representations of the roadmap, I include the goals, the initiatives that support those goals, the features needed, and the timeline to implement the work. Let’s see how you can keep things clear:
- If you work in a company that has multiple products or multiple areas of a product handled by multiple product teams, you will want to keep everyone aware of the progress of each product.
In this case, I prefer to have a roadmap that contains high-level details about how the work is advancing, that’s shared between the other product owners and other departments. This includes the product goals, the initiatives that support the goals, and the timeline as you can see below.
- The second roadmap contains information that is more relevant for the development teams and product owners. Such as the features associated with the current initiative, split by releases.
Differences between the roadmap for startups and the roadmap for mature products
Startups and mature products are in different stages of the development life cycle, so their roadmaps can differ significantly.
For example, when you build a roadmap for a startup, you’re focusing on finding the right market fit, identifying the right features, and experimenting with different strategies to attract customers. This makes the roadmap more flexible as the company adjusts to feedback from early adopters on the market.
Mature products on the other hand have an established customer base and a clear understanding of the value proposition. So, a roadmap for a mature product is focused on maintaining and enhancing the product’s market position, optimizing features, and addressing customers’ needs and pain points.
The mature product roadmap is usually more structured, and data-driven as the company leverages customer feedback, market research, and analytics to make informed decisions.
The following point will cover everything you need to know in order to create a roadmap for a mature product.
How to build a Product Roadmap?
Find the right initiatives for the product
- Knowing what are the product goals and the strategy that I will follow
Before you start building your roadmap, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of your product goals and strategy.
The initiatives and the features that I add to the roadmap are guided by goals and strategic decisions. In these posts about product goals and product strategy, I covered everything you need to know about how to find the right goals and strategy for your product.
- Deciding what initiatives I will add to the roadmap
- I schedule a brainstorming session with key stakeholders. In this session, I invite team members such as UX designers, technical leads, and other internal stakeholders who can provide valuable feedback and insights.
- When selecting the initiatives that we will work on, I consider market trends, customer feedback, and competitor activities.
Product discovery is a key element in uncovering users’ needs, which should be done in every stage of the product life cycle.
I talk with the support, sales, and marketing teams to check the latest feedback customers have about the product. Or I research competition to find unique selling points. Check out this post for more helpful tips about product discovery.
- I present the goals, the strategy, and the product discovery results to the team.
- We brainstorm initiatives. These should support the goals and strategy and consider users’ needs as well. And then we add them to a board.
- We prioritize the initiatives and add them to the desired timeline. We try to answer the following questions but of course, continue the list with anything else you have in mind.
Find the features that will support the initiatives
We focus on one initiative at a time by considering the priorities we have established in the initial step.
This is a good time to have a user story-mapping session with the team. In these sessions, the product owner or the product manager, the UX designer, and the development team should be present. Let’s see how such as session should unfold:
- Start by presenting to the participants the context. They should know what goals you want to achieve with this initiative.
- Explain what the initiative is about and why it’s important to users.
- Find the necessary features for your product. Begin the brainstorming session and identify the features that should be released to obtain the desired results, then add them to a visual board.
- Split the large features into smaller items that can be translated into user stories. Don’t worry about having to split them further once you start describing the user stories after the session ends.
- Prioritize the items you have added to the board. I personally like using the MoSCoW technique and applying it for the features and the small items that resulted.
It’s also important to consider the feasibility of the features you’ll build given your resources and constraints. If there’s any refactoring required, you may need to think if you can extend the timeline to fit this piece of work as well.
- Organize into releases. This will require a high-level estimation from the development team. What you need here is to understand with approximation how many sprints each release will require to complete.
And from there you can make the adjustments if needed. This estimation may also change while the team progresses with the implementation and learns new things.
Why should I create a Product Roadmap?
Creating a roadmap is an essential step in developing and launching a successful product. Here is why:
- It helps with the product development team and stakeholders’ alignment around a common set of goals and objectives.
- The product roadmap is a high-level view of the product’s development. This enables stakeholders to identify potential issues and make informed decisions.
- It helps to manage stakeholders’ expectations by outlining what features we plan to include in each release and when they will be delivered.
- It helps us prioritize features and initiatives based on their importance and the potential impact on the business.
Who owns the product roadmap?
The ownership of the roadmap can vary depending on the organization and the product development process.
In most cases, the product manager is responsible for creating and maintaining the roadmap. However, some companies have opted to replace the product manager role with the product owner role in the Scrum framework. This decision may be due to the specific nature of the product development process of each company.
In cases where both product managers and product owners work together on a product, they can collaborate on building the roadmap.
Product Roadmap best practices
How you manage the roadmap can benefit or damage the success of your product. So, I’ve got some tips for creating a great roadmap.
- Create a roadmap that is aligned with your company’s vision, goals, and strategy. This way you ensure that the product development efforts are focusing on the right areas.
Let’s say your company’s goal is to provide a user-friendly project management tool for small businesses. But your roadmap only contains initiatives that benefit enterprise companies. This is a clear example of misalignment between the roadmap and the company’s objectives.
- Prioritize initiatives based on their impact on the product and the company.
- Keep the roadmap flexible and adaptable to changes that appear in the market and in the company’s strategy. Regularly make updates to reflect changes in priorities.
- Share the roadmap with everyone who should be aware of the product’s progress. This includes developers, marketing, design, sales, and customer support.
Now let’s talk about some things you want to steer clear of doing.
- Don’t include too many details. Product roadmaps should provide a high-level view of the product development plan. Avoid adding too many details or specific implementation plans because it will become difficult to update it every single time you make a change.
- Don’t make unrealistic promises. You should set realistic expectations and avoid promising features that cannot be delivered in the given timeline.
- Don’t ignore customer feedback. This is one of the best places where you can get information to build a successful roadmap.
- Don’t create a complex roadmap. Stakeholders should easily understand what your plans for the product are and stay informed about the progress.
Creating and maintaining a well-structured roadmap is crucial for any organization that wants to achieve its goals and succeed in the market.
Using online roadmap tools can also streamline the process and facilitate collaboration among team members. I personally prefer working with Miro, but there are other options you can choose from, such as Aha!, Roadmunk, Jira, or Product Plan.
What are the steps you follow to build a product roadmap?
Let me know in the comments section below.