The process of building a digital product is complex with various dependencies. Therefore, it becomes necessary to prioritize the product’s functionalities and make amendments according to the market requirements. However, taking a sudden and unexpected turn without proper planning often leads to disappointments and wasting resources. However, a digital product roadmap can save your business from such issues.

So what is a product roadmap, and what are its different types? Why should you include it in your business? This article will answer all of your questions. And most importantly, you will learn the 8 ways to build an excellent roadmap strategy. 

What is a digital product roadmap?

The simplest roadmap definition is a high-level plan outlining strategies, objectives, and goals for a project, business, or product. So when it comes to roadmap creation for a product, the definition gets more focused on the aspects of building a service or solution that can satisfy users and stakeholders.

01 Digital Product Roadmap

Therefore, a digital product roadmap is a visual plan for developing a product step by step. One product roadmap example can be a company highlighting the upcoming features and technical considerations for a product while figuring out its expected evolvement in the future.

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZEV9CLUd2Q 

It is important to note that usually, roadmaps look like a mind map or a Gantt chart. For instance, here’s one of the product roadmap examples in the image below.

02 Digital Product Roadmap

Nevertheless, the structure of the above-shown roadmap is not a standard. They can be of different shapes, sizes, and pages. 

Different types of digital product roadmaps

Now that you have an idea of what is a road map?

03 Digital Product Roadmap

It is vital for you to understand its different types, as they can help you choose the correct digital product roadmap.

Agile roadmaps

An Agile roadmap is focused on the most important initiatives and features of a product for the upcoming sprints.

Also Read: 6 Agile Secrets to Solve Multiple Scrum Teams Working on the Same Product

Kanban roadmaps

A Kanban roadmap is a type of Agile roadmap used by Kanban teams. These are graphically rich maps and show the current work status.

Feature roadmaps

Feature roadmaps help you focus on adding particular attributes to a product. Development teams widely use these maps to plan their tasks and ensure they deliver highly valuable user features.

Theme roadmaps

When a digital product roadmap shows different features as a group, it is referred to as a theme roadmap. These roadmaps are used to communicate the overall direction of any software product. Moreover, they are also used to showcase features that are similar to one another.

Timeline roadmaps

A timeline roadmap allows you to determine the time you must spend focusing on a particular task and when it should be completed. This map lets you offer your stakeholders a clear picture of when and how the progress will be finished. However, some companies prefer mentioning months instead of exact dates. 

Dateless roadmaps

A roadmap with no dates is created for customers, sales, and marketing teams. This map includes strategies instead of deadlines. The whole idea of this map is to increase people’s excitement about the product without uncovering the launch day. 

Technology roadmaps

An IT roadmap is a visual representation that communicates a company’s technology strategy. It serves firms to make strategic decisions related to their technical infrastructure. For instance, investing in new technologies and exploring ways to prioritize projects.

Also Read: 6 Steps to Create a Good Product Roadmap Strategy

What elements should a digital product roadmap include?

The purpose of product roadmapping is to serve two different audiences:

  • Internal audience (product teams)
  • External audience (stakeholders, investors, and customers)

04 Digital Product Roadmap

A strategic road map for the internal audience shows what tasks they will perform and in what manner. And because it is taken as a product development roadmap, it generally has detailed information.

Contrarily, a digital product roadmap for the external audience ensures that everyone and everything is going as planned. This type of business roadmap is simple but aesthetically appealing.

Once you have decided what type of audience you will create a roadmap for, you can include the following elements.

Time duration

You can show your investors a timeline in terms of months or years without specifying dates. Here are the road map examples with time horizons:

  • Present Month and Upcoming Month
  • 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Quarter
  • January, February, March, April

Milestones

You can include milestones in your product map to ensure you and your team both are on the same track.

Themes

Adding themes to a strategy roadmap helps achieve strategic goals. Let’s understand this point through eCommerce product examples. Suppose you want your customers to complete their orders quickly. Therefore, your theme will be ‘Faster Purchase,’ and you can highlight the following features or epics. 

  • Improved UI
  • Responsive design
  • Creation of a new admin panel
  • Integration of payment methods, such as PayPal

Epics

Epics are a group of user stories or features with a common purpose. A digital product roadmap may have a few epics in a theme and some features or user stories in each epic.

Stories

Stories are the necessary steps you are required to take in order to achieve the goal. These are one of the lengthiest sections of a software roadmap that demands exact outlines of the tasks which are needed to be done. 

Features

Features are tasks and are one of the most crucial parts of a product roadmap. So if you’re wondering what is a road map when features are added to it, here’s a glimpse.

Assuming you’re working on an eCommerce site, therefore, the features would be like this:

  • Adding a single log-on authentication
  • Incorporating payment methods

8 steps to create a brilliant digital product roadmap

A well-crafted and comprehensive digital product roadmap serves as an indispensable guide for successfully navigating the complex terrain of product development.

05 Digital Product Roadmap

So, here are the 8 step-by-step methods on how to create a roadmap for a digital product. 

Product vision

As a roadmap creator, you first need to identify the reasons for launching the product in the market. If you take the example of Google Search, this tech giant aims to provide plenty of information related to a search query in a single click.

So begin working on your roadmap by determining the vision and then outlining goals you want to achieve in a few months or a year. You can also use the ‘Value Proposition’ template by Geoffrey Moore to create your own digital product vision. 

  • For (specifying your target customers)
  • Who (recognizing customers’ requirements)
  • The (your product’s name)
  • Is a (the category your product falls into)
  • That (product advantages and why people should buy it)
  • Unlike (your competition)
  • Our product (what makes your product different from the rest)

Deep market research

In-depth market research is the prerequisite of product vision. Your aim should be to offer a solution that solves the problems of potential customers. To do that, you can start with market and competitive analysis. Otherwise, it won’t be possible for you to make a strong product development strategy

Made for audience

When making a digital product roadmap, keep in mind that you will be sharing it with your internal and external audiences. Therefore, the roadmap should be customized for each type of audience rather than providing them with the same level of information. Here’s what you should include in your product roadmap:

Audience Information
Investors Revenue or growth divided by months or quarters
Customers Product benefits and problem-solving features without overloading the roadmap
Developers Challenges, stories, and epics
Sales & Marketing departments Product features and its benefits to the customers without deadlines

Roadmapping tools

You can use a product management tool from your PC or laptop to make a roadmap. The simplest example of programs are Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Spreadsheets. But these roadmap tools can be slow since they have a multi-purpose. People use them for finance, calculations, marketing presentations, and more.

Contrarily, you should look for dedicated product roadmap software to quicken the process. A few great roadmap tool examples are:

  • Jira
  • Wrike
  • ProductPlan
  • Roadmunk
  • ClickUp

The names mentioned above are some of the best product planning software to build solid product roadmaps.

Prioritize the features of your product

Find the main themes and include them in your roadmap. In case you’re using a particular roadmapping software, you can always adjust or amend priorities rapidly. Once you are done with themes, start learning specific features and epics but don’t overload the roadmap. It is also good to prioritize and keep stories in the backlog.

If you’re having trouble prioritizing things, use the priority formula to clear the confusion.

Priority = Cost of Delay / Size of Job

Here, the size of job defines the technical difficulty and the required time to complete a story or theme. Besides, the cost of delay is comprised of the following queries:

  • Importance of story
  • How fast you should complete a story
  • What risks a story can reduce, and what opportunities it can provide once it is completed

Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/ArrayPlatform/status/1689638602521939968

Include a timeline

Keeping in mind that not all product roadmaps need a timeline. But if the map is for an audience that requires a time duration, plan the first release of your software solution/digital product after positioning epics and themes. Also, you should always be realistic when deciding the deadlines and avoid specifying an exact duration if you can’t meet them. 

Add key metrics

You can include genuine information in your roadmap to make it more valuable. But do not add all the details predicting your product’s future, as they may mislead the audience. The best way to do it is to refer to your market analysis to decide your key metrics and then add the following information to your roadmap:

  • User growth projection
  • Projecting the market share
  • Number of users expected to use your product in each phase

Flexibility

Lastly, keep your digital product roadmap as flexible as possible. When creating one, always pay attention to the future of your product based on its present status. Start by finding the business requirement, clearing the issues, and then building an executable and clear roadmap to help your company move in the correct direction to attain goals. 

Conclusion

In this article, we shared extensive knowledge about what is a roadmap. And how you can create an excellent digital product roadmap in eight simple steps, such as finding the product vision and studying the current market. At the same time, you must understand the audience and use roadmapping software to accelerate the process. Adding a timeline to your roadmap depends on your audience. Nevertheless, you must prioritize features, fill your roadmap with essential metrics, and keep it elastic.

At Slash, we are committed to providing top-notch solutions on time. Our experts are always passionate about building winning software through a digital product roadmap that keeps us on the right track. Contact us to build an exemplary product under the supervision of our experienced tech squad.

FAQs – digital product roadmap

What is a digital product roadmap? A digital product roadmap is a comprehensive plan for the evolution and development of a digital product.

What should be included in a product roadmap? A product roadmap should have a vision, features, timeline, and priorities.

What is a product roadmap? A product roadmap shows the direction of your product over time.

What are the steps of a product roadmap? There are 8 important steps to creating a product roadmap: product vision, market analysis, understanding the audience, and using roadmap tools. Moreover, you must prioritize features, set timelines, identify metrics, and keep it adaptable. 

What is an Agile product roadmap? Agile product roadmaps have all the attributes of a digital product roadmap but are more flexible.

Is product roadmap a strategy? A product roadmap is not considered a strategy but shows how to implement one.

Alex Lossing
Alex Lossing
CFO, COO
Alex has accumulated 15 years of experience as an Organization leader, Team Builder, and Agile Transformation Practitioner. He is passionate about new technologies, and Digital Transformation and Delivery. He believes that Agile, people and teams are keys to successful Digital Transformation and Delivery. Alex focuses on helping enterprises deliver their best-in-breed digital solutions, by always keeping in mind business values and delivery constraints. An entrepreneur at heart, Alex co-founded his own startup in 2011 and joined Slash.co as a partner in 2021 with a strong focus on Digital Delivery and Venture Building.
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