Introduction:

What is a product roadmap?

Simply put, a product roadmap is a way of visualizing the start and finish of a product in the context of clear, actionable goals, beginning from the initial design to iterations and finally, launch.

The key to a successful product launch is communication. Product roadmaps help keep everyone on the same page along every step of the project's lifespan.

There is a lot that goes into building an effective product roadmap: planning your product, setting goals, breaking your goals down into actionable tasks, keeping your team on track, etc. 

This is why we've created this Product Roadmap Template; to help guide you, step-by-step, as you're building your own product roadmap from scratch before beginning work on any new project

Though we've done our best to offer a strong foundation to work from, we always encourage you to make any changes you may need to the template to better suit your company's specific needs. And it's very easy to do so!

So let's jump right in!

Planning:

Determine the UVP for your product/service

You should begin by determining the unique value proposition for you product/service.

Take some time to figure out why you are developing this product, in this way, at this time, prioritizing these features, for these users.

Answering these questions is an incredibly important first step to building your product roadmap, because if you can't answer them, then you probably shouldn't be wasting any of your time and money on the product/service to begin with.

Your product/service's UVP will help inform all of your decisions further down the line and ultimately, lead to your product's success.

Answer the following questions in the form fields below:

Use the Members form field below to assign the project manager for this particular product roadmap, so they can give their final approval at the end of the process.

Determine your audience

Next step, after you've determined the UVP, is to determine your product roadmap's audience.

Tailoring your roadmap for different audiences is a critical component of developing it, because you need to be able to present different details or views depending on who you're showing it to and what information they're interested in.

For example, your top level management may only be interested in seeing a roadmap that will show them how your product/service will help meet the company's goals. But, on the other hand, your sales team, may only be interested in how to best convert the product/service's prospects into customers.

Use the form fields below to take notes and record the audience your product roadmap will have.

Building your roadmap:

Determine your product’s strategic themes

Now it's time to begin building your product roadmap. 

To begin, take some time to determine and prioritize your product/service's strategic themes.

Simply put, strategic themes are groups of similar features/initiatives that describe the customer value.

An example of a theme could be something like “enhance shopping cart experience”, and within this theme you would group the initiatives needed to accomplish it.

Use the form fields below to break down your product into its major themes and order them from highest to lowest priority.

Layer epics beneath your product themes

After you've determines your strategic themes, you should begin adding epics beneath each of your themes.

Similar to a theme, an epic is a grouping of features/stories that share the same goal, but offer an additional level of more detail than the theme does.

Use the form fields below to take notes and record your final epics for each strategic theme.

After you've completed your epics, you may or may not need additional details beneath particular ones.

Answer the following question before moving forward:

[Conditional] Layer in specific features beneath each epic

(This is a conditional task that will only appear if you've selected "Yes" in the previous task.)

If you've determined that any of your epics need additional detail, you should now take the time to add any additional information/specific features beneath each epic that needs it.

The goal is apply a similar line of questioning to your themes as what you completed in the first task. (Why is this theme included in the roadmap? Why is it higher (or lower) in priority to other themes? etc.)

Use the form fields below to take notes and record your additional details for each epic that needed it.

Create a roadmap index

Now that you've finished detailed all of your strategic themes, you have all the information that you'll need to serve as the foundation to your product roadmap. 

Next, you'll need to create an index for the roadmap.

Your index should outline a brief summary of the roadmap's purpose, the goals you're looking to achieve through the roadmap, and all the different phases. It should give the reader a high-level overview of the project to ease them into it before beginning to work on it.

You have the option to record the index in one of many ways, such as: a standard text index, a mind map, a graph, a table, or a timeline.

Use the form fields below to take notes and the upload your finalized roadmap index.

Add project milestones

After putting together your roadmap index, you should take some time to highlight milestones along your project timeline.

Adding milestones will offer readers the most important tasks and deadlines without them having to drudge through the entire project roadmap to get that information.

There are a number of ways that you can stylize the milestones to make them stand out from the rest of the information. For example, you can simple bold or italicize the font, you can break up the sections and utilize subheadings, or you can underline the milestones to immediately draw the reader's eyes to the most important information.

Use the form fields below to take notes and upload your finalized project milestones.

Add small, actionable goals

In order to maintain morale and drive throughout the project's timeline, you should break down your large project goals into smaller, attainable, and actionable goals.

For every strategic theme during your project, provide a summary of what should be completed by the end of it. Make sure this summary is visually highlighted to make sure it's read.

Including smaller, actionable goals will help push your team along the way and allow them to feel more of a sense of accomplishment as they do so. These goals will also help communicate exactly what needs to be done to those who may not be so familiar with all aspects of the project.

Use the form fields below to take notes and upload your finalized smaller, actionable goals.

Visualize your product roadmap

Example roadmap timeline using Venngage.

Now that you have all of your project's information recorded, you simply need to visualize your product roadmap

An easy and effective way to do this is by creating a timeline of your roadmap and the project goals. There are many online tools you can use to generate a timeline that displays every step along the product roadmap with the allotted time for each phase, by simply dragging and dropping your info into the tool's interface.

Visualizing your roadmap is a great way to communicate the project and all of it's necessary information at an easily digestible, high level, so that you can make sure that everyone on your team is kept on the same page of exactly what needs to be done and when.

Use the form fields below to take notes and upload your finalized visual product roadmap.

Record actionable goals in a checklist

This step is optional, but in addition to your timeline, checklists can also be an effective tool to help guide your team along the project's lifespan.

Checklists help break down large projects into smaller, manageable tasks that can be ticked off when completed, providing a further sense of accomplishment.

It might take some time to create the checklists(s), because you'll have to review all of your project goals and break them down into smaller, step-by-step tasks. But once it's completed, it should make you and your team's work that much more straightforward and easy to manage.

Right now, you're following our checklist for creating your product roadmap, but you can just as easily create your own Process Street checklist(s) to keep track of your project's specific, actionable goals.

Use the form fields below to take notes and upload your final checklist.

Establish system for recording updates to roadmap

As you and your team move forward in your project's timeline, it's important that you establish a system for recording any updated that are made to your product roadmap.

Your roadmap should have a section that outlines the date it was last updated. It doesn't have to stand out too much, but make sure it's visible enough that your team can see it whenever they're reviewing the roadmap.

You have to keep in mind that your entire project team will be referring to this single product roadmap document to move forward with their own work, so they should be kept in the loop on any updates to the roadmap.

Something as easy as including a small "late updated" note will make coordinating between everyone a lot easier.

Use the form fields below to take notes and upload your final product roadmap with the added updates system.

Ensure you have a change management process

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remain flexible; because your roadmap will change along the way.

Whether it's because your company's priorities shift or your levels of resources change, you'll need to prepare a change management process to deal with whatever may come your way.

Use the form fields below to take notes and upload your final change management process.

Approval: Final Approval

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Determine the UVP for your product/service
    Will be submitted
  • Determine your audience
    Will be submitted
  • Determine your product’s strategic themes
    Will be submitted
  • Layer epics beneath your product themes
    Will be submitted
  • [Conditional] Layer in specific features beneath each epic
    Will be submitted
  • Create a roadmap index
    Will be submitted
  • Add project milestones
    Will be submitted
  • Add small, actionable goals
    Will be submitted
  • Visualize your product roadmap
    Will be submitted
  • Record actionable goals in a checklist
    Will be submitted
  • Establish system for recording updates to roadmap
    Will be submitted
  • Ensure you have a change management process
    Will be submitted

Sources:

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