Product Roadmaps: A Brief Overview

A product can evolve a surprising number of times from its conception to its final stage. To help track its evolution, a product roadmap provides a visual outline of its direction over time. It is an extremely useful tool for prioritizing strategic objectives and aligning stakeholders with the vision for the product.

As your product evolves, your roadmap evolves with it. Roadmaps are intended to continuously change over time based on factors such as consumer demands and market patterns. It serves more as a flexible guide as opposed to a strict plan.

Types of Product Roadmaps

Due to the fluidity of roadmaps, they tend to vary depending on the product. As a result, product roadmaps can be difficult to classify. Though no two product roadmaps are created exactly the same, a lot of them can be sorted into the following types.

1. Internal Roadmap

An internal roadmap is created with the team in mind. It is designed to communicate information to the executive group, the sales team, or the development team.

2. External Roadmap

An external roadmap is created with customers in mind. It is designed to highlight the value of the product for consumers.

3. Theme-Oriented Roadmap

A theme-oriented roadmap is an excellent tool for helping stakeholders align with the vision of your product. It provides a vague overview of the product’s direction and its reason for being. Like the goal-oriented roadmap, it conveys the potential value of the product for users by identifying a theme without describing exactly what it entails or promising specific deliverables. Theme-oriented roadmaps are particularly useful for problem-solving. These product roadmaps are structured into quarterlies.

Theme-oriented roadmaps are especially useful for apps. Each theme should support and advance a high-level strategic goal and communicate that to stakeholders. It allows the team and the stakeholders to recognize how each theme is related to a larger objective.

4. Outcome-Oriented or Goal-Oriented Roadmap

Similar to a theme-oriented roadmap, outcome-oriented or goal-oriented roadmaps are great for understanding the vision and strategic goals of the business. However, outcome-oriented roadmaps identify a specific desired outcome or goal. Information on the product roadmap is then structured around the goal.

Outcome-oriented or goal-oriented roadmaps also serve as effective tools for communicating your company’s goal and how your team is actively working towards it.

If an outcome-oriented roadmap is focused on increasing user subscription rates, the team defines various solutions and actionable steps on the roadmap in order to accomplish that goal. 

5. Status-Oriented or Now-Next-Later Roadmap

The purpose of a status-oriented or now-next-later roadmap is to help a team gauge where they are in the process without overcomplicating information. It is designed to prioritize tasks through simplicity in the absence of a strict deadline. It allows teams to focus on their progress without being constrained by timelines. This is one of the easiest roadmaps to create due to its simple design. In a status-oriented roadmap, information is categorized into three columns: Now, Next, and Later.

Under the Now section, each item is aligned to a key strategic objective. It describes the tasks the team is focused on for their current sprints. This section is subject to the least amount of change.

Under the Next section, the team’s focus for the upcoming weeks is identified. This section is more flexible than the Now section but more rigid than the Later section.

Under the Later section, the focus for the upcoming months is roughly defined. This section is most likely to change several times as the product evolves.

Benefits of Roadmaps

Product roadmaps serve as extremely useful tools for aligning a company’s central vision to its smaller, more actionable objectives. Due to their clear and simple design, a product roadmap can be an effective tool of communication between various teams within a business.

Their ability to display a product’s vision and timeline of evolution ensure teams don’t lose sight of the company’s strategic direction. This enables teams to prioritize the most important goals and tasks. A product roadmap has the power to foster alignment among all internal stakeholders throughout the process.

They nurture teamwork and allow for greater flexibility during the various stages of a product’s development. As a result, a product roadmap is an invaluable and necessary tool for any business in a fast-paced and ever-changing market. 

Author Bio

Emily Henry is a content writer who publishes articles about Product Roadmaps. You can find her writing at Paper Fellows and OXEssays.

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