Behind every great technology product lies a product roadmap.
Think of it as your product development team's North Star. Not only does a roadmap prioritize the "what" and "when" of product development, but it also aligns all departments to efficiently design, develop, test, market, and iterate upon your product.
Particularly when building a minimum viable product, your industry expertise and will to succeed aren't enough. You need a product roadmap: a clear, strategic path for your product's vision and a plan to get there. Without one, your product planning will be scattershot, incorporating dangerous and untested whims and assumptions.
Just as stars shift in the sky as you travel, so should your company's product roadmap. Because your map describes your product over time, it's the perfect tool to plot and predict evolution. A flexible roadmap helps you plan and execute new features while staying true to your initial goals.
When to Create Your Product Roadmap
Once you've set those initial goals — ideally, following a discovery phase — the real work of product roadmapping can begin.
Before ever touching the template, seek buy-in from your development, design, marketing, and sales leaders. Your product manager, whose task is to create the roadmap, should select specific contributors from those teams.
What input, exactly, can members of those teams provide? Designers can determine whether the mapped product meets users' needs and point out opportunities for future iteration. Developers can judge the product's technical feasibility, while marketers can lend insights into its target audience. Salespeople can ensure the product will be competitive in its market.
Each of these roles will rely on your roadmap before, during, and after production. Developers and designers, in particular, need it to keep both the big picture and important details in mind. Whenever team members need to check progress or determine a next step, they'll look to your product roadmap.
The Roadmapping Road Ahead
Although the template and guide will go into much greater detail, be prepared for four major phases of product roadmapping.
You'll need to start with a mission statement — in short, the user's "why." Why, from the customer's perspective, is the product being built? Why is this project a priority for the company? Without a "why" that all stakeholders can agree on, it's impossible to move forward.
Once you've got your "why," you'll need to designate epics. These are major features or functions of your product. Although epics represent user needs, they're not set in stone. Perhaps it's important that your product include a messaging feature, but you may decide to fulfill this epic through a group chat, comments feature, or live chat tool.
You'll next need to prioritize those epics. Sort them by desirability, or user needs; feasibility, or technical limitations; and viability, or business needs. Assign approximate time horizons to each, but remember that your prioritization scheme may change as you receive feedback and realize new user needs.
Take your time at this stage. If you prioritize the wrong epics, you risk upsetting your product-market fit. If your internal teams disagree on your roadmap's priorities, the team dysfunction can result in poorer product features and a delayed launch.
Lastly, put your roadmap in the context of strategic objectives. What theme, or ultimate goal, does each phase of the project meet? Each epic you identified earlier should tie directly to a theme. User stories will change, but epics and themes should stay fairly consistent throughout the project.
Make Our Roadmap Template Your Own
When used according to the steps above, Yeti's product roadmap template is perfect for nearly any software project in any industry.
In fact, the template works for software development projects of almost any duration. Although it includes timeframes of one month, three months, and beyond, these intervals are easily adjustable for shorter and longer projects.
About to embark on a two-week sprint? Just change the initial timeframe from one month to two weeks. How about a ten-year product series? Add columns to represent timeframes of six months, one year, two years, five years, and ten years.
Last but not least, take full advantage of the associated guide. Although plenty of roadmapping tools exist online, few are free, and even fewer come with strategic suggestions.
For your product team's North Star, fill out the form to the right. Your free product roadmap template and instructional guide will be emailed shortly.
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