How to Make a Product Roadmap from Scratch?
Genius ideas do not always guarantee genius products. Even the most experienced product owners are often held up by delayed decisions. In order to avoid these issues and build a successful go to market plan, they should care about applying an effective product roadmap.
There are basic elements and steps of writing a solid roadmap, that we’ve described in our previous article about the concept of an Agile roadmap. Now, it’s time to dive deeper into the additional practices that will help to create a product roadmap aimed to achieve both your vision and company goals.
Four Essential Tips on How to Make a Roadmap
1. Choose the appropriate management tool
Nowadays creating a successful product roadmap directly depends on selecting a powerful professional tool. This choice is rather critical because if you choose the wrong service to create and manage your timelines, you will be stuck with that tool throughout the entire product’s development. It’s about untold hours of extra work for you.
Choosing the best online tool for this purpose, make sure you remember that a roadmap is not a static document that was written down once, it’s an ongoing process.
All the changes connected with your product’s priorities, customers or budgets should be reflected on the roadmap. And if the PM platform doesn’t allow for easy updates and easy sharing across your company, it will not add value.
Actually, there are still many product managers who use presentation software or spreadsheets for creating roadmaps. However, the tendency shows their strive to move to high-quality specialized functionality. It’s not a problem to find helpful reviews with all the pros and cons of any software, so you are able to study whatever you want and make your own analysis.
Focus on a purpose-built roadmap service that was designed especially for creating timelines and schedules. Make sure the tool allows simple drag-and-drop updates that can be housed online and provides an attractive presentation for product meetings with stakeholders and team members.
2. Make the roadmap clear, compelling and visually attractive
Product managers, as evangelists for the product, should care about the high-level visual presentation that is a powerful way to get buy-in on your product strategy.
More and more teams are starting to pay attention to creating the right impression and spending hours visualizing their roadmap.
According to the Agile world principles, there is no time to hassle with updating a graphic of a presentation tool or spreadsheet every time the roadmap is updated. Therefore, the dedicated roadmap tool will professionally assist you in a visually compelling case for your product strategy.
Every single product management tool with built-in roadmapping offers its own ways for visualizing timelines and schedules. Here are some typical ways:
- Keep the roadmap high-level. It must tell a story about how your strategy fits with the product vision. Tell this story with big and bold strokes rather than humble details. Build logical groupings of initiatives if possible, to make a roadmap easier to grasp.
- Add large fonts to improve visibility. Especially it’s useful when you present your timelines during an online meeting or on a projector.
- Add colors. This a great way to represent how the roadmap is connected with product vision and strategic goals. Colors will help to make the connection between initiatives and how they fit into the big picture.
- Add task titles (or statuses)
- Set dependencies that will help to make it possible to establish the connection of tasks.
- Specify the percentage of task completion – it will allow you to understand what part of the task has already been completed and what part of it still requires your efforts.
3. Each element on the roadmap should be accompanied by a strategic justification.
As your roadmap is not just a feature list or a backlog, it should provide a persuasive vision for building the product in the way you are aiming it to be built. It’s about a clear strategy with strategic reasoning behind every theme, epic and other initiatives you’ve selected to include. If a specific element is on the roadmap, then your team members should be able to learn why you’ve chosen to prioritize it.
Understanding the reasons for existing items on the timeline, your team will feel more strategic in product decisions.
4. Provide frequent reviewing and updating of your roadmap
A powerful product management tool for creating roadmaps will empower you to make updates to the roadmap quick and easy.
As you can see on the Hygger’s example, dragging and dropping colored bars or containers into the appropriate spot on the roadmap is as easy as pie.
The smart online platform will also allow you to update the roadmap as often as necessary. This is a critical step for the success of your product. The lack of regular roadmap updates could mean that the members of your cross-functional team might be working with outdated and incorrect info. Luckily, you may share the roadmap with everyone who needs it and be sure that they have a full picture of where the product stands and what they should be working on.
The well-designed and managed roadmap is a powerful tool in product development and growth management.
Today product roadmaps seem to become a mandatory tool for product management and every PM should constantly improve his/her skills in writing an effective roadmap. This skill will help them to manage team schedules, break down tasks, meet deadlines, measure performance and achieve successful product outcomes.
If you care about how to make a roadmap effectively, do not save time to choose an appropriate PM tool that will boost communication within your company, lead to better alignment within the teams, and leave more time for real work to be done.