What is a product roadmap

A product roadmap is a document that directs the development of a product over time. A high-level overview and a strategic copy convey what teams are building and why they are building it and a clear strategic plan for putting it into action.

Product roadmaps describe how a product plan comes to fruition. They take a lot of competing goals and distill them down to the most critical ones, putting showy items on the back burner in favor of work that moves the needles that matter to stakeholders.

They provide motivation, inspiration, and a sense of shared ownership of the product and its triumphs. Individual contributors’ work frequently makes sense only in the context of the product roadmap and letting skeptics know about the strategy and what the company believes it will provide can help them come on board.


The history of product roadmaps

Product roadmaps have a long history.

Product roadmaps have been around in some form since the beginning of personal computers in the 1980s, and they are still in use today.

Initially conceived as technological roadmaps, Cambridge University refined the concept in the late 1990s with the introduction of the T-Plan, which was intended to solve slowdowns and inertia in development processes.

The introduction of Agile Development brought about further changes and the development of a specialized approach to product roadmaps.

What are some of the most typical difficulties encountered while developing product roadmaps?

Proper prioritization is required when deciding which improvements or updates should be included in a product roadmap.

Product managers must squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their limited resources while allocating those resources to projects with the most impact.

Incorporating a quantitative and time-efficient framework, such as a priority matrix or a weighted scoring model, can ensure roadmaps focus on the most critical and strategic objectives.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of product roadmaps?


When working in a fast-changing corporate environment, product roadmaps make it easier to plan forward.

They assist product teams in remaining focused on the features that the business considers the most useful.

Users benefit from a visual tool that allows them to see how a product is evolving and grasp immediately how changes in the priority of one item can impact the development of other planned features and updates.

Product roadmaps can aid product managers in their battle against scope creep. When numerous teams work together, the roadmap ensures they remain focused on the most essential or highest-value objectives.


Road maps can generate issues if they are based on outdated or faulty data and incorrect assumptions about the feasibility of timetables.

When dealing with a dynamic business environment requiring a more flexible roadmap, time-based roadmaps might be prohibitively rigid.

Team members may benefit from mixed roadmaps since they provide greater flexibility. Still, their lack of commitment to defined timeframes and priorities can lead to vagueness and scope creep challenges.

When it comes to roadmaps, poor prioritizing can also cause problems, particularly when it comes to resource allocation.

The Functions Of a Product Roadmap

A product roadmap, in general, fulfills a variety of functions:

It depicts your vision and strategic goals visually and outlines how you intend to carry out your vision and plan. It provides the knowledge required to bring all parties into alignment, establishes your priorities, allowing you to concentrate on the most important things.

Furthermore, product roadmaps are among the few things that practically everyone in the company will be exposed to because sales presentations, marketing strategies, and financials are frequently kept close to the vest.

For many employees, it’s their sole window into the future of the product and company and why you made certain decisions. They ensure that everyone in the firm has shared knowledge of the company’s vision, goals, and objectives.

Product roadmaps also prevent anarchy from the ruling, pet projects from being pushed to the back of the implementation queue, and resources wasted on less critical activities. They serve as a guidepost, a focal point, and a lighthouse for everyone involved in bringing the product to market.

The Benefits Of a Product Roadmap

A product roadmap visually depicts the vision and strategic objectives, making it easier for development teams to exchange and work on the product. It outlines priorities and provides specifics on how everyone will contribute to achieving the vision and strategy.

Furthermore, a roadmap makes it easy for other product stakeholders to grasp the most current status, how features are being prioritized, the long-term direction of travel, and the strategy for implementation.

A product roadmap helps teams stay aligned, on track, and focused on the right things by assisting everyone engaged in understanding how their input contributes to the overall picture of the project.

Product roadmaps are illustrated in the following examples.  

3 Product Roadmap Categories

1. Progress based roadmap

A progress-based product roadmap separates actions into lanes (often columns on a Kanban board) that are characterized by the amount of progress made, such as complete, in progress, and to-do, among other things.

Because dates and timetables do not constrain them, progress-based roadmaps are frequently utilized in agile development environments.

Most of the time, they allow teams to work more efficiently because tasks are tracked based on progress rather than hard deadlines.

2. Time based roadmaps

In many cases, time-based roadmaps are an excellent way to visualize how a product has progressed — and will continue to move — over time. Time-based roadmaps divide tasks into categories depending on the dates, milestones, and deadlines that have been set.

3. Mixed roadmaps

Some businesses will choose a roadmap with parts of both progress-based and time-based roadmaps.

For example, when creating a progress-based roadmap, they might utilize the lanes to split jobs according to their approximate completion timetable: in-progress, next-up, arriving shortly after, or even “maybe“.

When is it necessary to create a product roadmap?

To successfully launch a new product or manage it throughout its lifecycle with different skill sets, your company must employ careful a collaborative effort and imply allocation of time and resources, and alignment between technical and non-technical stakeholders must be

How to Use a Product Roadmap

Business and the competitive landscape can evolve rapidly as the digital economy develops and expands. Product development teams require product roadmaps in such a fast-paced environment to:

  • Align important stakeholders’ competing interests with one another.
  • Make objective conclusions about priorities.
  • Create a product following an overarching corporate plan.
  • Selecting features and establishing a schedule for upgrades necessitate meticulous preparation and prioritizing.

With the help of a product roadmap, this process becomes much more straightforward. Roadmaps help developers keep track of the features they’re working on without committing them to set delivery dates. Because of this flexibility, it is easier to prioritize while also making course corrections as situations change or new information becomes available.

What are product roadmaps used for, and why do they exist?

A product roadmap connects the day-to-day activity of product teams to the company’s long-term goal for the product and the entire organization.

Furthermore, product roadmaps capture a product’s development plan in a simple format to understand and distribute; and communicate the strategy to others.

●     Create a single source of truth for everyone involved in the strategy’s execution.

●     Ensure that all internal stakeholders are on the same page.

●     Collaboration and team planning can be made simpler.

Making a product roadmap can also help keep team members focused on a single goal while gaining leadership support for the development process.




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