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A roadmap is a visualized plan of what you want to build overtime. A great product roadmap communicates the ‘why’ and the ‘what’, whereas a product backlog communicates the ‘how.’
A roadmap is akin to using a compass to figure out which direction you need to travel. Roadmaps provide vision and clarity but by no means are they inflexible or the answer to everything. A great PM has the ability to adapt to and/or foresee market shifts happening and make changes to their roadmap and strategy accordingly.
There are many different ways you and your team can build a product roadmap. Each type of product roadmap serves a specific purpose that should match the needs of your team, stakeholders, and customers.
A status-oriented roadmap allows everyone to better understand where the team is currently at, without necessarily committing to any kind of time frame.
It’s organized into three columns that are based around the status of each deliverable—now, next, and later. It helps with prioritization. It also gives room for the next and later columns to change.
Each item (typically an epic) shown on this roadmap should align to a higher level organization goal or strategic objective (e.g. Increase ARR by 5%).
Theme-oriented roadmaps are a way to communicate the value that will be delivered to the users, without describing exactly what the team will deliver within that theme.
This keep the team focused on solving the larger problem at hand, and anytime something else is brought up, it’s easy to ask one another if it fits into the theme of the current time period. Theme-oriented product roadmaps are quarterly based.
Once your stakeholders align on those themes, you can nest epics beneath those themes. This allows team to get a better understanding of how the work ties to the larger business goals.
Where it differs to theme-oriented roadmaps is what’s at the highest level: an outcome. An outcome is defined as “something that follows as a result or consequence.” By agreeing on the outcomes you will be driving toward, it leaves full power to the team to define the solution.
Most stakeholders don’t really care about a specific feature you are working on. But, what problems the team is working to solve.
e.g., an outcome that a product team may be working to solve could be, “Improve our day-7 app retention rate by 10%.” Then, it’s up to the team to figure out how to make that happen.
No matter the approach you choose for your roadmap, you’ll follow a general roadmapping process to get the ball rolling.
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