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As Roman Pichler puts it, the product vision “is the overarching goal you are aiming for, the reason for creating the product.”
Product strategy is your plan to bring your product vision to life—it clearly outlines what you aim to achieve.
Objectives are clear, measurable goals aligned with specific outcomes you’re striving to achieve for your customers, product, and business.
A good product roadmap visually communicates your product vision, strategy, and objectives in a way that everyone can understand and unites the product team behind a common and documented purpose.
Once you align the product team behind a common product vision, strategy, and objectives, it’s time to prioritize the products and/or features that will go on your roadmap. You’ll want to consider insights from customers and cross-functional teams, market segments that your product serves, date-based milestones or restrictions, capacity planning, and more inputs.
This step can become a little overwhelming given the sheer volume of information you’re working with, as well as the competing needs of stakeholders from both in- and outside your organization. Despite the challenges, gathering and synthesizing these inputs changes your thinking from “I know what we should put on the roadmap” to “We’re putting this on the roadmap because of XYZ.”
Now it’s time to create a draft of your roadmap! Make sure to include the products and/or features you are building, when you will be working on them, roughly when they will be released, as well as strategic context (why they are a priority vs. all of the options that were considered). Currently, only 44% of product teams are confident that their roadmaps reflect the strategic context behind what they’re building, though strategic context is the easiest way to earn buy-in from stakeholders with their own needs and priorities.
Remember — your roadmap must be informative and easy to understand for your end audience.
The final step is to rally everyone around the roadmap and empower them to get the information they need. For example, you can set up a regular meeting cadence or send emails updating the team about any product roadmap changes. You may want to consider providing roadmap access beyond the product team (though you should only include as much detail as necessary for your audience). Keep in mind that roadmap needs vary from stakeholder to stakeholder. Using multiple roadmaps tailored to different audiences can be extremely helpful.
“I think of roadmaps as communications vehicles rather than decision vehicles. Our goal is to have a good product strategy where we make hard choices and prioritize the right things. The roadmap is simply a reflection of this.”
“The best part about Productboard’s Roadmaps is they are simply the output of a well-crafted plan. We don’t spend any time building roadmaps for specific individuals; instead, a few clicks gives them what they need. We’ve moved our internal updates out of PowerPoint, saving many hours each week in preparation and distribution time.”