What Is a Product Roadmap?

Posted by Maziar Adl
Maziar Adl
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Illustration: Different directionsA product roadmap is a specialized management tool that a product manager uses to communicate the product vision and plan to internal company stakeholders. A roadmap will relay the desired outcome and define the steps that are needed to meet this goal within a specified time frame that can encompass several months to several years.  

While the purpose of a product roadmap in defining the product strategy is clear, there are three important points to remember when managing a roadmap. 


1) Coordinating the Product and Project Roadmaps

Illustration: Software Hardware ReleasesIf you are tasked with managing products, you are responsible for the overall product strategy. Your role as a product manager is to identify great product ideas that will align with the company vision and fulfill the business goals. Essentially, you take the high-level view and should keep this in mind when creating a product roadmap.

An organization is made up of several teams, often including design, engineering, sales, marketing, and customer success. Each team will be managed by a project manager who is responsible for the team's functions and progress. While a product manager must look at the big picture, a project manager must manage all of the smaller tasks that are a necessary feature of product development. 

When product managers focus too closely on managing individual projects, they risk fulfilling the product strategy, which will ultimately affect the performance of the company. The high-level view of the product roadmap involves delegating responsibility to project managers who work towards meeting the project milestones and timelines. Product managers and project managers must work closely together to update the rest of the stakeholders and the product roadmap so that everyone knows what is going on. 


2) Understand the Difference Between a Roadmap and a Backlog

A backlog is a list of tasks that need to be done in order to meet a goal. These lists are often structured in a priority sequence. While they are an essential component in the product development process, their purpose is limited from an overall strategy standpoint. 

Gocious Screenshot: Backlog vs Roadmap

In contrast, a product roadmap must define the overall product strategy so that each product team can work effectively towards achieving the business goals. Once these goals are defined, the strategy will be broken down into several tasks that will be assigned to each team. At this point, a project manager will create a backlog for their team, define the priorities, monitor progress, and ensure that work is completed within defined timelines. 


3) Knowing the Difference Between a Product Roadmap and a List of Features

While product features and updates are fundamental to product development, a product roadmap is much more than a list of features that development teams must blindly work towards achieving. 

Developing and managing a roadmap involves so much more than this. While internal teams will work separately toward developing features in their specific area, a product manager must tie all of these activities together to ensure that updates are meaningful and profitable. 

In some cases, a software update is enough to improve the functionality of a product and make customers happy. In other cases, a new physical feature should be added. Both scenarios require a product manager to coordinate updates and timelines with sales and marketing teams. 

This will allow them to develop marketing campaigns to create awareness and excitement about multiple feature updates that are geared toward their corresponding release dates.

A roadmap with well-defined milestones can help a product manager to track the progress of a product over a specified period of time. Understanding dependencies is also important, as the development of one component may be dependent on the completion of another. 

Gocious Screenshot: Plan Overview


Why Do We Need a Product Roadmap? 

A product roadmap is a bridge that connects all aspects of the production process. When you clearly define your product strategy within the product roadmap, all of the development functions can grow around this key framework. 


A Visual Product Roadmap For Strategic Planning

The key aim of your product roadmap should be: 

  • To document your overall strategy for the product. This will include the short, mid, and long-term goals within a specified time frame.
  • To relay the product strategy to all of your team members. Visual product roadmaps are easy to understand, providing clarity to all of your teams.

As product development evolves over time, the product roadmap allows a product manager to keep track of the different processes and coordinate how everything comes together. 


How To Manage a Product Roadmap

Your product roadmap is an agile tool that is used to track and support the process within your product strategy. It must encapsulate the product vision and provide clear direction on the steps that need to be taken to meet the product goals. 

Gocious Screenshot: Product Roadmap


A Product Roadmap Is Dynamic 

A roadmap is not a static document that you set in stone at the start. The product development process is dynamic, and changes as the process advances or complications arise. Your roadmap should evolve with the process and provide a clear, concise snapshot of all of your team's activities at any given time. Milestones help to track progress, keep activities aligned, and move the process forward through to completion. 


Product Roadmaps For Successful Products

If you want to build a successful product, product roadmap management software is the tool you need to achieve this. A product roadmap will help you to collaborate and communicate your strategy to your internal teams and align activities within your organization. When teams are aligned, and development functions are focused, efficiency is significantly improved. 


PRM Software that Supports Multiple Product Roadmaps

While the best product roadmaps provide stunning visuals to improve the quality of your presentations, they must also encourage easy communication and foster collaboration between teams. Gocious Product Roadmap Management Software is designed to do all of this and more.

Our software designers have collaborated with product managers across several industries to understand the challenges they face. As a result, we have developed specialized software that provides solutions to their problems. Find out more about our new approach to product roadmapping.


Topics: Product Roadmap

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