The purpose of a Product Roadmap is to show high-level direction and progress of a Product. You may be thinking “we don't have a product, so we don't need a product roadmap”. The good news is, you don't have to be in a "Product business" to see benefits from creating and maintaining a Product Roadmap. Also, a Product can be your Website, Intranet, Marketing Campaign, Custom Solution, or any initiative which requires planning, implementation, and delivery.
So why do you need a Product Roadmap?
“Out of sight, and out of mind” proverb is often true. For example, if you are working on your Website or an Intranet, and you are doing all the work internally, it is very easy to put those types of projects on the back burner as soon as something more pressing comes along. Having a Roadmap will force you to plan, adjust, and keep on top of all large initiatives, requirements, resources, and deadlines. Assuming you allocate time to review the roadmap on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
So what makes a good Product Roadmap?
The level of detail will depend on the size of your organization. However, here are some common traits that all good Product Roadmaps have, they:
- Articulate the product vision and strategy (clearly paints the big picture)
- Are simple and easy to understand
- Encourage conversation (e.g. show conflicts and dependencies)
- Have a realistic timeline
- Clearly show progress and delays
- Include Resources (people, equipment, skills, etc.)
- Included input from all stakeholders
- Are reviewed and adjusted regularly
It is very tempting to keep adding details (more information), and before you know it your Product Roadmap turned into a Project Schedule; don't fall into this trap. Product Roadmaps should only focus on high-level direction and progress. Also, most planning documents are “living documents”, and a Product Roadmap is no different. They lose their effectiveness if they are not revisited and updated frequently.
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