A roadmap is intended to serve as a communication tool between product teams and leaders. That way you can understand which actions and objectives are being engaged. As well as visualize a timeline that serves as a prioritization between your initiatives.
This guide has a product roadmap template created specifically focused on making it more manageable to update and present. Allowing the product team to focus on their real goal, which is to deliver an exceptional product.
Currently, some softwares will help you with the creation and management of roadmaps. But if you are looking for something more flexible to your team’s needs, Excel is perfect and will keep the team aligned for a long time.
Download roadmap template
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is nothing more than a summary of the product’s strategy and vision and how it translates into action. The roadmap is intended to communicate why and how we are going to achieve our goals, serving as a strategic documentation tool.
Although the roadmap belongs to the squad and must be assembled with the team. Its responsibility falls onto the product manager who will have to create and maintain it updated.
Finally, the objective you seek with a product roadmap would be:
- Communicate the product vision and strategy;
- Have an overview of product initiatives in a document;
- Facilitate alignment within the company and its respective areas;
- Facilitate the planning and discussion of the actions that will be taken;
- Helping to listen and communicate the initiatives that are being carried out for our clients;
Why is a product roadmap important?
While at the beginning of a startup, it is common for everyone in the company to be completely aligned with the vision and its initiatives. As time goes on with school growth it is even more common to become more chaotic to the point where each sector or team doesn’t know what the other is doing.
That’s why having a product roadmap is essential, it will make it easier for the Squad and other teams to understand the vision, objectives, and initiatives being carried out by the product team.
What should go into a Product Roadmap?
As stated before, The roadmap is the responsibility of the product manager. Therefore what goes on the roadmap also falls to this person. So as a product manager, you will have to serve as the security guard, defending everything that goes in or out of the roadmap.
Your mission is to ensure that the actions on the roadmap attack real objectives and that they are linked to your squad. You will be constantly serving as a filter, so always ask the following questions before adding a new action:
- What value does this action bring? Is it aligned with our goals?
- Is there any evidence that this action brings this value? Why do I believe this would be a priority in the short space we have to evolve the product?
- How will this action impact our end user? Is it an action that the company wants or the user wants?
- Can we manage to carry out this action?
How to map small improvements and technical debt in a roadmap?
Although improvements and technical debts should be prioritized, their presence should not always be on a roadmap. In both cases, these actions should be seen as an investment. Which is gradually improved upon every sprint.
Therefore, the best representation would be small iterative actions that occur all the time.
However, sometimes a technical or security debt is too large or important to be simply backlogged. It would be critical for business that it had better communication.
In this case, it is not only necessary but also recommended to bring it to the roadmap. And make it as transparent as possible that this action is necessary to advance the company’s strategy.
How to use this Product Roadmap
This roadmap is opinionated so don’t expect this to be the same as what you’ve found elsewhere.
The main point of a roadmap is that it serves as a communication and planning tool. So, for it to be correctly used, some rules need to be in place for product managers and their leaders.
1. A roadmap is not a promise – It is intended to communicate how the Squad’s actions will advance the company’s strategy. But it doesn’t mean that what is on paper will be exactly what will be done. Outcomes are above Outputs.
2. Chaos is necessary for innovation – To innovate there must be chaos and change, so it is impossible to have long-term visibility into what will be done. Any long-term effort will be wasted as when the time comes you will have other priorities.
How do these two opinions translate to a roadmap? Very simple, first the roadmap is focused on only three months. A quarter is more than enough time to impact the actions of a squad while you have enough visibility about the company’s strategy.
According to this roadmap, it will focus on initiatives and fronts, it will not go into detail on what will be done in every detail and delivery of the team.
Fronts – Fronts are goals for which a squad is responsible. Example: Increase revenue by 15% or Decrease churn by 7%.
Initiatives – These are macro actions linked to the product that’ll be built to attack the fronts. Example: Allow users to pay by credit card or Send automatic notifications at the end of the plan.
1. Should I use this model to manage more than one Product or Squad?
Of course, to add new products or squads just clone the main table tab.
2. Would this Template serve as an Agile Roadmap?
The short answer would be, no.
By default, an Agile Roadmap focuses on projects with low scope change, so there is a mapping of more than 12 months of actions to be carried out and with high detail on each step.
This is hardly the reality we find in a product, as after a three-month cycle or our initiatives have had a lot of effects and maybe it’s worth continuing to invest in what we were working on or we learned something new about our users that changed our perception about what we’re building.