So very simply put, it is a document or a plan which should aid in describing or explaining the road from your current status or where you are right now to where you want to be further down the road. Various companies work with different timelines and time frames but basically, this plan can be as short as 3 months or can take as long as 24 months to launch the product.
Realistically speaking, delays or modifications in deadlines cannot really be anticipated so when you’re planning features of the product, they should be completed within the 3-6 month timeframe. This means that the features should be among the first things you will be planning out. You can then evaluate the product to see if it works and the features are made well.
A well-made map would display the plan for bringing customer value over a period of time. It is the result of the whole product planning process where the following have been identified:
- the target markets and their needs
- the size of the target market
- the competition
- the trends of the industry
- the goals and visions of the organization
- the features of the product as well as the benefits which would meet the needs of the target markets
- the time of the product launch along with its features
Once you know what is a product roadmap? it would also be helpful for you to know when it is to be used. Using the map correctly is key if you’d like to start making one for your organization if you’re planning to launch a new product. Typically, these kinds of plans are used:
- As a tool for internal communications which would provide clarity on what the plan for the product is and how it would deal with the needs of the target market.
- To create stability in the organization by showing short-term and long-term plans.
- To communicate what the team for product delivery is working on.
- For planning resources which would be needed in the future.
- To show the correct positioning of a vision or brand for your sales and for marketing and establishing the commitment of the customer.
- To encourage investors and stakeholders to make an investment in the company.
Benefits of Using a Product Roadmap Template
Before you launch your product, you can look at some product roadmap examples online to give you a good idea of how you will be making your own. There are benefits to making and using such a plan and all these benefits would work towards the betterment of your organization and the product which you are planning to launch. As you will see, it’s really useful and advantageous to make one so it would be a good step for you to start learning more about it.
The Whole Strategy in for the Product would be Shared Across the Business
Whether just one product is being developed in a company or more, it would be extremely helpful to make known all the product strategies to all the people in the company. This is so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the product. From the development of the product to advertising it and finally when it is time to launch it. When everyone is informed through the plan, the whole process would flow a lot more smoothly.
The Vision of the Product is Focused On
Each and every product would have started with a vision which is the explanation why the product was conceptualized in the first place. In making the roadmap, the product vision is given much focus by the whole team who is working on it. As it is being developed, the people also develop a better understanding of the product and its vision too. This is important because it would help the owners or creators of the product to make decisions on which features should be prioritized and improved and which can be omitted if they aren’t really needed.
For Managing the Overall Backlog of the Product
While the roadmap is being planned and developed, the people involved in the process would be able to review all the items in it to ascertain that all of them are still very much relevant and that they are all aligned with the strategy and vision of the product. The product backlogs would help the people in the company understand which features are in the pipeline for each of the products which are being developed.
To Collect Feedback About the Product and Everything Involved in it
In developing the roadmap, feedback can be collected about the product, its features and everything else involved in it. Feedback is very important in any kind of planning process, especially when it comes from knowledgeable members of the company or the committee so that improvements can be made to further enhance the product which is being developed.
Knowing the benefits of making a roadmap is essential so you also know when and where to apply it to your own company. Before you start making one though, let’s take a look at some guidelines to think about.
Some Guidelines in Making Product Roadmap Templates
When you look at any kind of product roadmap example, you will see that they are all varied but they do have some similarities. This is because roadmaps are made for specific purposes, such as to plan out the development and launch of a new product but the content is made specifically for different kinds of products. Take a look at these useful guidelines to consider:
It should be Flexible
When you make your plan or map, keep your mind open to the possibility of delays or changes within the timeframe you had set. No matter how well you have planned and developed the roadmap, you are bound to encounter a setback or two while it is being executed. To keep up with the setbacks, your roadmap should be flexible in a sense that you have contingency plans incorporated in it to be able to deal with problems or quickly make modifications.
Don’t make any promises you can’t keep. When you present your roadmap to investors and stakeholders, inform them that the document is not absolute and you may make changes in it. But do assure them that if you do make any changes, you will inform them immediately as well.
It should have been developed with Well Thought out Goals
When you are developing your roadmap, do so with a team made up of valuable members who will be able to contribute relevant ideas and feedback to the product. You should think about the goals your products are meant to achieve and think about how they would help or contribute to the needs of your target market.
Once you have your goals, stick to them. If you’ve thought about them well and you’ve built a solid foundation, you will be able to defend yourself no matter what kind of negative feedback you get.
It should be developed with a lot of Input
As previously stated, you would have to develop your roadmap with a team and not just you. Doing so would ensure that there are a lot of minds working on the same goal, which would mean that there will be a lot of input. As you are developing the plan, you will be looking at different sides of the product and the features so you will most likely be making good decisions in the long run.
It should be visual in nature
Since the roadmap is basically a tool for communication, it should be very clear and visual. Making it visual rather than just a document filled with text would make it a lot more interesting, which means the people who will be reviewing it will be able to understand it easily and know what’s it all about. Roadmaps which are visual would make it easier for the people in your strategy meetings to quickly comprehend your proposed plan and what you are hoping to achieve at the end of the whole process.
It should be tailored to your audience
Your roadmap will be read by various people in your organization along with key stakeholders and investors. When you are coming up with your roadmap, make sure you use language which is clear, easy to understand and would be understood by the people who will be reading it. Making a roadmap which is too complicated (in the hopes of making it look more “professional”) might actually end up confusing your audience, which is definitely not good.
Follow these guidelines when you’re planning your map and you might actually come up with a plan which would be effective while still being easy to understand.
Tips for Making a Great Product Roadmap Template
Before moving on to the last section of our article, which is how to actually make a product roadmap, let’s look into some tips which you can use as you are creating your roadmap. A lot of thought goes into making such documents so the more information you have, the more efficient you will be when it’s already time to apply the information you’ve learned. Here are some helpful tips for you:
Emphasize the Benefits and Goals
The benefits and goals are the most important part of your roadmap as it would be the main reason why you’re planning to develop and launch a product in the first place. An effective roadmap would be goal-oriented and would be focused on showing the readers why the product needs to be created.
Prepare Before You Start
Before you start developing or creating your roadmap, do the necessary prep work first. When you are intending to launch a new product, you should do your research so that you will be well informed as you are developing your roadmap.
Be Rational and Practical in Telling Your Story
Your roadmap should show a practical and rational story about the possible growth of your product. You would be starting with your current status and moving towards where you would like to be by the end of the whole process. Never assume or speculate and don’t try to oversell your product either. Your investors must see that what you have created is realistic and applicable.
Don’t Make it too Complicated
You may think that putting in a lot of details would add to the content of your roadmap but resist the urge to add too much! Keep it simple so that it’s easy to understand by anyone who would read it. Just include the necessary information but if there are any questions, be sure you will be able to answer them all.
Know When to Share the Dates
When you are developing a roadmap, it would actually be a better idea not to place dates on each and every event. This is so that disappointments would be minimized and you won’t be questioned every time you don’t meet a deadline which is written there. You can make an internal roadmap with all the estimated dates for your own reference and for the reference of everyone involved in the process of developing the product.
Make Sure Your Roadmap is Measureable
When you are making a roadmap which is focused on goals, make sure you can measure each of those goals. When you do this, it would mean that you will be able to determine when you are able to achieve a goal. If you don’t include targets, you might end up having a hard time actually completing all the processes as you won’t know when you’ve reached important milestones.
Review and Modify Your Roadmap Regularly, but only as Needed
As previously stated, roadmaps should be flexible so you would have to regularly review and evaluate your roadmap to see if the information still applies. If needed, make changes to it then inform the people involved as well as the key investors and stakeholders.
Know When to Say No
When you’ve developed your roadmap and you’re presenting it to stakeholders and investors, you’d most likely be bombarded with requests and suggestions about your product. It’s alright to listen but you should know when to say no. Otherwise, your roadmap will be edited and modified until it becomes an unrecognizable mess. Then you might have to start all over again. In cases like these, the trick is to write down all the suggestions but only use the best ones or the ones which would work towards achieving your goals.
Steps to Building an Effective Product Roadmap
Now comes the best part – building your product roadmap template. There are certain steps you can follow to make a good roadmap which would effectively convey your goals and the whole idea or story of your product, from where you are starting to where you’d want to end and everything in between. Take a look at these useful steps:
- Start the whole process with a clear vision in your mind. To be able to have a clear vision, you may have to also look at things from the perspective of the customer aside from yours as a business owner.
- Know what you want and what you want to achieve before you can actually think about creating or developing a product which you will be launching at the end of your journey. In doing this, you would also be setting your priorities throughout the process.
- Identify and understand the major drivers which would affect your product. Metrics are very important as studying them would reveal what customers want and what keeps them coming back for more. When you know this, you will be able to plan more efficiently.
- As preparation, collect feedback from actual customers. If you are planning to launch a particular product, do research and collect feedback about similar products from actual customers. This would help you develop your product and add features which are essential and which the customers actually want, increasing the chance of its success.
- Once you’ve collected all the feedback, brainstorm on how you would improve your product. You may have collected feedback regarding a feature you planned to have, but wasn’t appreciated by the customers. Brainstorm with your team as you are developing your product and keep all the very best ideas.
- Set meaningful and achievable goals and stagger them throughout your plan. You can have one big goal at the end and some small goals within your whole process so that you can celebrate small successes in between. Also, having smaller goals would give you short term targets to achieve which would also somehow set the timeline for your whole process and would also allow you to know that your process is progressing.
- Clearly, define your product strategy. This means that you would have to set your vision, your goals and all the initiatives for each of your products. Link the initiatives of your products together as these would most likely be the driving force behind your goals.In doing this, you would also be able to see which of your goals are most relevant and which are more minor in nature.
- Make sure you think about who will be reading your roadmap so you can customize it well. You may have to highlight features and present data which is needed. When presenting your roadmap to your organization, you may present all relevant data as well as dates and milestones. But when you will be showing the roadmap to people outside of the organization such as investors and stakeholders, you may have to only include information which needs to be known and not necessarily everything else.
- When you have already created a good roadmap, you should go through the whole timeline once again. Go through your whole roadmap and make sure all the relevant data and details are highlighted and emphasized for the people who will be reading it.
- You can start creating your roadmap in a software in your computer to make it more organized and more professional looking. You may make different layers for your roadmap and each of those layers would contain different information. You’d have to begin by plotting your product and work all the way to how you will develop it and how and when you will be launching it.
- Before you share your roadmap, make sure you’ve proofread it more than once. You can ask different members of your team to proofread the document and check for any spelling or grammatical errors. Remember, you will be showing this document to a lot of people so it has to be as correct as possible.
- When you’re happy with your roadmap, you can proceed to share it with the people you’ve intended to share it too. Present it to the members of your company or organization as well as to the key stakeholders and investors.
- Keep in mind that as you will be making changes to your roadmap, you will have to share these changes with everyone as well so that no one is left in the dark and everyone is kept up to date about the product and all of its details.
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