Product roadmaps are a great way to keep track of your company's progress towards designing, building, and releasing new products to the market. A product roadmap creates a space where you can set goals, track performance, and make decisions for future development. When you have a plan to look over each product and product line, you'll be able to spot both the success and trouble spots with more insight and metrics to prove it. The product roadmap also provides a framework for communicating with stakeholders, investors, and marketing teams.
We've established that roadmaps are great for business, but how should a product roadmap be structured? How can a company keep track of multiple products and brands destined for various markets? We've got five simple steps you can use to build any product roadmap, along with an important tip for managing multiple product lines!
Define Your Goals
It's impossible to create a roadmap without knowing the end goal or destination. This is why you should always start by establishing your business goals and defining what success looks like for your company. What is it you want to accomplish? For some companies, this may be expanding into the European market after initially launching in North America. For others, this may mean releasing products designed for men after creating a popular product for women. You can also begin by defining what success looks like for your business, what you want to accomplish, and how you will measure your success.
Once you have defined your goals, you need to decide how to achieve them. This includes determining who needs to be involved in the process. These teams or stakeholders must all be involved in the communication process. Some teams will need more information than others. Now is the time to make that outline, so everyone knows what to expect during the product's development.
Identify Your Market
Knowing the market for your product gives you clarity when it comes to establishing your goals. Brands with multiple products can be clearly mapped out and compared to define which market will be receiving which features, along with clear metrics reporting so you can measure success as you go.
It would help if you also considered your competitors. Who else is doing similar things? Where does your product fit into the marketplace? Are there any other products out there that might compete with yours? If so, how do they differ? These questions will help you establish the features to include when planning new products or new versions of your successful products.
Develop the Product
Determining the value proposition of your product is essential for any new products you plan to release. If you already have an established product line and are adapting a roadmap for future releases, you might already have a clear outline of the value proposition. However, if you are reviewing your products and want to refresh the definition of what you're offering, you can follow this process again.
Once you understand what makes each product unique, you can build a roadmap. Start by determining the value proposition. What problem does your product solve? How will people benefit from using it? What features make your product stand out?
If your product is brand new, then starting with a minimum viable product or (MVP) can help you test the market and adapt your goals. An MVP is a version of your product that has only enough functionality to prove whether it works. When looking to create, test, and launch new products, you'll want to build the MVP as quickly as possible so you can test its viability with real users. This process allowed you to learn more about your customers and how to use your product before investing too much time into developing a full-fledged product and roadmap.
Once you've established the important factors required to create your product, it's time to set milestones. These are specific points in the process that will affect the overall timeline of your product development. Next, you'll create a time frame for your products, starting with the development or manufacturing to the release of the product to stores and customers. But before that stage, it's important to know which phases of the process depend on another.
Knowing exactly which components are coming and from where can help you create a checklist of accomplishments that lead to a milestone being reached. Once a milestone is hit, the next phase of the product continues. For example, a laptop computer cannot assemble a screen until the battery is installed.
Having clear milestones that all involved stakeholders can see will help keep your product on schedule. Sometimes delays happen. Certain parts may be on hold or unavailable due to the market, supply chain, or shipping. Your roadmap will help you choose alternative solutions to keep your plan moving forward.
Create a Time Frame
Having a schedule based on the milestones for any given product will help keep everyone in your company on schedule. Knowing when each stage of the product's development begins and ends helps each stakeholder stay on track with their portion of the plan. A clear timeline increases both accountability and motivation, and yet managing a timeline can sometimes be the most complex part of product management (hand in hand with the communication).
A roadmap requires a timeline to be effective. Solving problems for supply chain delays or product backlogs is much easier to do when the product vision is clearly laid out in the product plan with set dates. The more developed the road map is, the easier it becomes for managers to make quick moves to solve a problem, such as potentially finding components that work for other products and substituting those. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made on whether to pull a product, reschedule the release, or drop certain features based on meeting the time frame established in the roadmap. With the right roadmapping tools in place, your teams can make decisions based on hard data rather than impulses or opinions.
How the Right Product Roadmap Management Software Can Help
The right product roadmap management software can help make managing your product roadmaps easier for everyone. When you book a free demo of the Gocious Product Roadmap Management software, we'll show you how the powerful dashboard gives you the ability to oversee everything at a glance or specific products in more detail. Your data is in one central location that is sharable with your teams and stakeholders, making meetings more efficient and presentations a breeze to create. If you're looking for more agility in your product management plans and decisions, Gocious can help you get there.