How Do You Create a Product Roadmap?
Moving away from a GANTT chart of features and dates
I was recently asked, “How do you create a product roadmap?” In a world where we want to prioritize outcomes over outputs, run a continuous discovery process, and iteratively deliver while constantly learning, the answer to the question is not straightforward.
To even attempt an answer to this question, we have to first come to an understanding of what the word “roadmap” even means in today’s product development context. In 2019, it definitely should not be a GANTT chart of features and dates. A modern roadmap should:
- …map out themes, not features;
- …include time horizons, not dates;
- …have higher granularity in the near term than further out.
In the following, I will describe an archetypical process to create a product roadmap. Of course, when actually creating a roadmap, this process needs to be further detailed in how it interfaces with the planning, goal-setting, and product development processes already in place.
The process follows the steps following steps:
While the depiction above looks very linear, there will in reality be more iteration and parallelization (we’re not doing waterfall software development, and we shouldn’t build our product roadmap in a waterfall fashion).
Vision & strategy
The basis for the roadmap creation process is the product vision and strategy. The product roadmap is the plan for how you will deliver on product vision and strategy, so needless to say, they have to be in place first.
Product vision and strategy — like “roadmap” — are not clearly defined terms. The product vision should describe the purpose for creating the product, by describing the idealized, high-level benefit that the product should bring to the world. The product strategy needs…