How to Create a Product Roadmap Everyone Understands

How do you communicate your product’s direction and progress to both your internal teams and to external stakeholders? You create a product roadmap—one that everyone understands. Forget about naming every feature or listing bugs. Your product roadmap should show high-level initiatives and the steps your team will take to get there. It exists beside your product backlog.

The product roadmap is an evolving process throughout the product’s lifecycle. Your customers, partners, sales people, executives, operations, engineering, and others should offer plenty of feedback on requirements and features. It’s up to you, the product manager, to set the priorities and make sure you align your product roadmap with company initiatives.

Here are 4 simple steps to show you how to create a product roadmap everyone understands.

#1. Define your strategy.

Based on your company’s goals and initiatives, figure out your ultimate goal. This is the dot on the horizon towards which you are always working. It should be a succinct vision of your product, where it’s headed, and what your team will build.

Base your strategy on a strong product vision that includes what your customers need and how you plan to achieve it. This is your north star; keep your project focused on this end goal.

#2. Prioritize features.

Rank customer requests for features by their importance to achieving your product’s vision. When you score features, you reframe a subjective choice to an objective assessment. Figure out your metrics for scoring and make sure you stick to them with every feature.

Your list of features should be easy to prioritize at this point. Those offering the biggest impact on your vision and strategy will float to the top of the list.

#3. Create your timeframe.

Notice you’re creating a timeframe rather than a hard and fast timeline. You can use dates for internal releases if you’d like, but give external stakeholders a timeframe when to expect releases. Timeframes like Quarter 1, Quarter 2, etc., allow you to give your stakeholders an estimate without being locked into a hard and fast date.

#4. Customize your roadmap.

Your team will want to see how everything relates to your strategy, goals, and initiatives. Stakeholders will need their own specific roadmap views. For example, executives want to see high-level targets and goals and how those align with corporate initiatives. Customers want to see what’s expected to be released with each iteration.

Create custom views for specific audiences. Allow them to see roadmaps tailored to their specific business objectives.

Final thoughts

Your product roadmap will change and evolve as your product does. Make sure you continually collaborate to keep your roadmap up to date. And finally, share it often internally and externally to make sure everyone knows and is on the same page.


Chris Ball

Hi, I'm a Co-Founder at Hutwork. I'm responsible for making sure everything ticks! Click here to check us out on twitter.

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