September 9, 2021

What is Product Roadmapping? How to Make a Product Roadmap that Keeps Your Team on Track

Software Development
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What is a Product Roadmap?

A product roadmap is a visual source of truth and timeline that helps communicate the priorities and vision for a product. Great product roadmaps create a plan of action and align teams around the goals of their project. 

Want to get started right away? Draft your product roadmap ideas with a free trial of Gliffy Online >>

Why is Product Roadmapping Important?

Product roadmapping is an important skillset for product managers because it’s a valuable tool for clarifying how short-term goals and projects contribute to long-term goals for the product. Product roadmaps can help managers communicate their vision and align stakeholders around their plan.

Strong roadmaps will also help the organization realize their organizational goals and mission. A roadmap may document planned work for a year or more, while the organization's leaders can use the strategic planning process to think through where they want their company to be in 5 or more years. 

Who Uses Product Roadmaps

Roadmaps are helpful for many different audiences — so be sure to consider how you’ll be sharing yours and take that audience into account. Product roadmaps are helpful for:

  • Development teams who are working on features and prioritizing work
  • Leaders and executives who want to see how the work supports their organization’s goals or review the plan for the product
  • Non-technical stakeholders or business partners who need to coordinate their work (ie: marketing campaigns) with the development or release of new features
  • Customers or users who want to see what’s next for the product
  • Sales teams who need to create confidence and excitement in their conversations

What Should be Included in a Product Roadmap?

Depending on your audience, you may need to change the level of detail you include in your visualization. For an agile development team, for example, you might designate work on a sprint-by-sprint basis. Your executive team might want to see a roadmap spanning multiple products or lines of business. Customers, on the other hand, will care most about how new features will support them and address their needs.

At its core, a product roadmap for any audience should include:

  1. Your vision for the product and what it will be by the end of your project
  2. Strategic themes that help you organize work and explain how it supports your goals
  3. Requirements: what features and functionality you need to be successful
  4. Goals and timing indicating when you expect to meet certain benchmarks

Gliffy is a great tool for creating high-level visualizations or drafting your product roadmap. Try using Gliffy to organize your thoughts before you put your plan into action in a detail-oriented project management or planning tools like Jira, Hansoft, or

Related reading on sprint goals >>

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Video Tutorial: How to Make a Product Roadmap

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Step-by-Step: How to Make a Product Roadmap

Step 1: Clarify Your Strategy and Audience

Start your roadmap with a clear idea of what it needs to communicate and who will use it most. This will help you provide the right level of detail and structure your work.

Step 2: Collect and Prioritize Ideas into Themes

Whether you have a handful of feature requests, an epic to break down into manageable steps, or a big idea to work toward, prioritizing work is important. Using themes and clarifying how they support the success of your product is a great place to start.

In Gliffy, you can start to capture and organize these ideas by making a concept map or dragging out one shape for each idea — kind of like how you’d use sticky notes on a whiteboard.

Step 3: Define Key Features and Requirements

Once you have themes and ideas for what your product should do and how it should work, you need to break these ideas down into actionable steps. 

Further, making sure you're working on the features that matter most to your end user will keep you on track. Exercises like user story mapping and empathy mapping can help you clarify what functionality will matter most to your users, and impact mapping can help you express how that functionality will help your product reach its business goals. 

For example, if you have a theme for allowing users of your mobile game app to play against a friend, you would need to break that into smaller features or stories. These could be ways to invite a friend, implementing a turn-based structure into your game, and adding a way to track scores and wins against friends. Story mapping or concept mapping can help you consider and identify all these opportunities.

Related reading on requirements management >>

Step 4: Assign Timing and Goals

Depending on the audience for your roadmap, you’ll want to include different levels of detail when it comes to timing and goals. 

For executives or business partners, outlining your key priorities and what you want to get done each month or business quarter may be appropriate. Using Gliffy to make a timeline could give you enough detail to aid in a high-level conversation about your work. But for a development team, take this a step further and start organizing those requirements in your project management tool.

Step 5: Share and Collect Feedback

Sharing your roadmap for buy-in from the rest of your team can be nerve-wracking, but any feedback will help you build a stronger business case and better empower your team.

Be ready to help your team or stakeholders understand the “why” behind your decisions, but also be open to ideas. Your product roadmap may never be 100% done — you’ll keep prioritizing based on data and customer feedback, checking in on progress, and refining requirements to meet your goals. Your roadmap shouldn’t be changing every week, but it’s a good idea to review it and keep it up-to-date.

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Use Gliffy to Start Product Roadmapping

To start using Gliffy for ideation or to make a product roadmap, be sure to sign up for a free trial of Gliffy Online or check out our Atlassian Apps. Learn more about other diagrams for product teams that can help you deliver on your vision, or check out the following resources:

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Related Resources

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