Building timelines for features, bug fixes, or updates at a moment’s notice is one of the critical tasks that product managers must take up, and it can be challenging to comply with in the beginning. Creating a product roadmap makes the entire communication visual & comprehensive. There are some roadmaps whose sole intent is to inform the target users about various timelines whereas there are others which are geared towards generating votes & comments from the end users.
Irrespective of what your end goal for creating product roadmap is, it is imperative to understand what all variations exist. This can then inform your decisions around what information to include in the product roadmaps.
From spreadsheets to Gantt chart makers, numerous tools and approaches can be used to create a product roadmap.
However, at a broad level following types of product roadmaps are common:
- Timeline based
- Feature based
- Goal based
Each of the above serves a purpose of its own & suits different audiences. For example, timeline based product roadmap may serve best for internal business stakeholders or customers who just want to keep an eye on where your product is going. Whereas for active participation from users a feature based Kanban style product roadmap would be apt. It would allow the users to make their voices heard through votes & comments. And it will also offer the opportunity to follow progress of a specific feature through ‘subscription’. For goal based product roadmap, the suitable audience is internal product & marketing team as the goal based roadmap focuses more on solving customer problems than worrying about specific features.
Essential components to be present in product roadmaps
A practical product roadmap should be simple enough so that the customers or stakeholders understand the direction of the product. It also can benefit internal stakeholders by including the status, release dates, areas of concern, milestones to be achieved, etc.
Internal product roadmap documents are more than just the visualization of the roadmap. Typically the visual roadmap is supported by having the following sections that provide details about the product vision, strategy, goals, features, and more.
- Product vision is necessary to establish a long-term view of what the future goals of the product are
- Strategy document that ties a high-level product plan to overarching business goals and priorities and how to achieve them
- List of features and functionalities that articulate how the product is going to evolve
- Timelines that mention specific dates and timeframes to achieve milestones
Roadmaps can also show status markers, which track short-term development progress and tangible metrics.
Product roadmap that is meant for external stakeholders would usually be restricted to the visual asset. Because the vision & strategy may not be of immediate relevance to this group of audience.
Product roadmap examples
Product roadmaps can be detrimental to product managers and the product development teams if they do not align with the organization’s goals. Here we share 10 external stakeholder facing product roadmap examples that will help product managers formulate their own. We also try to highlight some of the key features for each of these roadmaps
SocialBee, a social media scheduling software used by agencies, uses Trello for their public roadmap. A drawback is that users can’t add their ideas. There are other ways to share ideas, but the user experience isn’t great– users can quickly get confused about where to submit feature requests & suggestions.
Trello is the base for Buffer’s product roadmap as well, and it features simple statuses. The board can confuse new users, as the feature request forms aren’t easily accessible, and users populate task card comments with feature requests. Other than these issues, buffer roadmaps follow the regular roadmap practices. Their public roadmap demonstrates the priority of different features and uses accessible and friendly language. The comments and engagement sections let users ask questions and input feature requests, providing product managers with action items and feature suggestions.
ClickUp has a roadmap that provides a stripped-back view for easy navigation and understanding of product launches. While the language is simple, it stops short of articulating what features add in terms of value – leaving users to skim through. ClickUp’s roadmap shows a visual way to share a high-level overview with customers.
Slack uses a simple and clear roadmap that is straightforward and presented in an easily understandable layout. The technical nature of the language used might be heavy for average users. The lack of time frames leaves customers in the lurch, even if the details provided are comprehensive.
5. Up Banking
Up Banking, an Australian fintech product, calls its product roadmap ‘The Tree of Up.’ This interactive roadmap lets product managers interact with various sections, read relevant release notes, and more. This interactive technology tree works well for a product like Up, which caters to end customers and B2B clients.
GitHub’s public roadmap functionality, launched in 2020, provides users with information about new features of the code repository, asks for feedback, and highlights the changes to be expected in its products. The cadence of the roadmaps is set to a quarter, giving viewers a transparent outline of what is to come. While the descriptions veer towards the technical, GitHub provides details that try to keep lay users in the loop too. The level of detail provided is helpful, and the filter functionality effectively ensures only relevant information is presented to users.
Airtable’s public product roadmap is both practical and easy to understand. It communicates what Airtable plans to introduce in the future and when. Customers can determine if the tool can help them with their needs and when new features can be seen. Interestingly, Airtable relies on its own product to host this product roadmap.
Atlassian presents information in an easily digestible way for users by dividing its roadmap into multiple categories like administration, analytics, and other departments. These categories are further classified into specific product areas to help users see what accomplishments each product is gearing towards.
Combine also uses Trello for its public roadmap, but the classic example uses the tool’s features much better than others. Apart from lacking the ability to capture user votes on features, Combine roadmaps score high on all requisites of a good roadmap. Fundamental drawbacks inherent in any Trello roadmap remain, and data related to features and other sections are separated into several columns, allowing for an efficient roadmap to be built.
Microsoft’s public roadmap aims to reduce the burden on the support team and largely succeeds. The roadmap lists all features that are currently being built and highlights important ones that are being considered. From giving clients information about consumer- and business-focused features to let users know of team group chat enhancements, Microsoft’s shared roadmap keeps its users in the loop without additional effort.
Using the right roadmapping tool
Various ways the roadmap creation process can be executed is chronicled well in the above mentioned examples. The tools used to create these roadmaps vary from Trello boards to plain spreadsheets to customized solutions, showing the increasing importance of the practice. Product managers can give the task the importance it deserves while saving time with the Roadmap Portal. This specialized solution keeps track of customer feedback and keeps them in the loop on product development. Flexibility on offer is unparalleled as all your data remains within Jira service management. Product managers can align the whole organization to a customer-driven roadmap by collaborating with the customers, getting their votes & feedback, and creating a roadmap that builds on the strengths of the product.
Product roadmap examples discussed above cater to the external stakeholders. Communicating the feature level progress, engaging customers with votes & comments along the way. They reveal the product strategy or plan to the interested parties, and give teams an additional way of targeting customers. Take any good product roadmap example: It explains the ‘why’ and details the ‘what’ so that the teams and product managers can figure out the how. With the necessary components, a good product roadmap makes it easy for everyone to understand where the product is going and how they can benefit from it. No matter the type of roadmap created, being centered on the central issues and goals allows product managers to avoid the trap of creating a roadmap that solely focuses on new features and their delivery dates, which takes away the autonomy of the product team.