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Product Roadmaps: 101 For Project Managers

Dawid Pacholczyk 3622ceab56

09/02/2022 |

7 min read

Dawid Pacholczyk

Roadmaps are something foresighted drivers never forget about even today, in the world overwhelmed by all-encompassing technology. Yet even high-tech or IT professionals may have their own roadmaps – product roadmaps – that also let them stay on the safe side in many cases.

But what exactly is a product roadmap? And how does it differ from a project roadmap? How can product managers and project managers benefit from utilizing product roadmaps? Can an IT roadmap be a game-changer in the process of developing particular products or applications? That’s only some of the threads that will be discussed in this article.

 

Table of contents:

  1. Product roadmap in brief
  2. Product roadmapping – how it works
  3. Product roadmap – wrap-up

 Product roadmap in brief

Heading in the same direction, and being aware of it, is crucial for any team. So is a clear vision of how the product being developed is supposed to progress over time. 

The common goal needs to be well-communicated and shared by the whole group involved to make it effective. 

A good way to help everyone on the product team stay on track is to create a product roadmap.

Long-term business goals and aspirations are at the very center here, they are the starting point to define priority-based goals for the short term. Team members should always keep them in mind – and what helps them do so is yet the product roadmap.  It simply lets all employees understand what they can do daily, step by step, to reach the goal set. That’s because the product roadmap translates the general direction into tangible tasks and the results over time can be measured.

Product roadmap actually is a „shared source of truth”, a strategic, flexible, adjustable document or simply a plan regarding creating or reshaping a product – a good, a service, or a, say, software application. 

It embraces a clear product vision and the direction the company is to be heading as well as the strategy of how to achieve the set goal. It may also cover the most important features and other priorities, requirements, markers for tracking the progress, and some metrics for unified measurement. Including important milestones and potential risks can also be vital.

Product roadmap vs project roadmap

What’s worth mentioning, a product roadmap is sometimes confused with a project roadmap but they mean something else. 

A project roadmap may be defined as a series of tasks or plans to be performed within a given timeline. Project roadmaps often lead to product enhancements but a project entails a more stiff timeframe while working on a product can be a never-ending story as corrections and improvements are made regularly based on the feedback received from customers or competitors.

 

Product roadmapping – how it works

Product roadmapping process, with its practical and down-to-earth approach, was simply set for success in modern organizations and agile environments.

Who can benefit from a product roadmap?

It is simply perfect for aware managers and business owners who want to encourage progress, track it effectively, and make sure that everyone shares the same goal and is working hard to achieve it. It makes it much easier to communicate comprehensive plans with key stakeholders, both across the entire organization and outside of it.

To make a dream ever come true, you need a thoughtful, detailed plan – a framework for success. And that is exactly what a product roadmap may be if designed right. It is supposed to keep the strategy moving forward at all levels, both when it comes to internal teams and external stakeholders. All product teams or people involved should be addressed and affected – with diversified, tailored messages.

A product journey is put under scrutiny here and there are many teams involved that can give feedback on the developed product – make a suggestion, or improvement, detect a flaw. They all may feel engaged and able to make a meaningful change on the one hand, and aware of priorities set by the company on the other.

Internal and external product roadmaps

Among many divisions product roadmapping may be broken down into, internal and external  types of product roadmaps may be distinguished. Internal ones are simply directed to internal audiences, while external ones – mainly to existing and prospective clients.

External product roadmaps should be more general and presented in a more exciting, compelling way to make the target audience feel interested, willing to find out more, and somewhat included within the process (visual roadmaps are in general more attractive and easier to comprehend, so the roadmap format may make a difference here). Importantly, one external product roadmap may cover multiple products simultaneously. Such a customer-facing roadmap may include information like a release plan or essential milestones. In other words: it can promise customers things worth waiting for and give them (at least a rough) features timeline.

An internal product roadmap is built for internal stakeholders who, in turn, should get to know more details aligned to their particular areas of interest and day-to-day duties. Think of it as a sort of coordination tool which includes information such as major releases, essential deadlines (exact dates) and milestones for implementing features. Internal roadmaps are meant for at least a few groups of recipients – including the development teams, marketing team, sales team, executives and upper management (in short, all teams operating to any extent). All of these groups may receive a separate, very own roadmap to guide them. Some of the people who should receive the most detailed guidelines are members of the implementation team, such as development teams and QA specialists.

 

Product roadmap in IT – wrap-up

Abiding the plan set within the product roadmap may tip the scales and make the whole venture fail or succeed. The basic condition is that it is prepared carefully and ahead of time, and clearly communicated to the whole business environment, including employees and customers.

Building a product roadmap can certainly be where strategic planning and engineering meet. It lets you plan, for instance, the most important new features for a given release. Agile teams and Scrum environments are where product roadmaps are something natural and useful – they simply set a frame for the workload in consecutive sprints and make it easier to gain alignment, keep the planning process in order, and track progress.

A product roadmap is one of the impressively effective tools within the areas of product management and product strategy. It can surely help companies to make their work more effective and achieve their business goals and realize their business strategies. So if you haven’t heard of the roadmap IT industry uses, yet, it’s definitely worth giving it a try.

Have you tried to build a product roadmap in IT yet? Do you find it helpful in speeding up the workflow? What other advantages of using this tool can you spot? Would you recommend it for enhancing productivity and progress within a modern software development team?

If you need a hand in building a product roadmap, visit our dedicated IT consulting page to learn more about the consulting services that Codete can provide. Get to know our experts and learn how we can help your company leverage technology to meet its business goals.

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Dawid Pacholczyk 3622ceab56

Dawid Pacholczyk

Consulting Manager at Codete with over 15 years of experience in the IT sector and a strong technical background. Seasoned in working with multinational companies. Ph.D. student and lecturer at Polish-Japanese Academy of IT, focused on software architecture, software development and management.

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