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A roadmap is a strategic plan that defines a goal or desired outcome and includes the major steps or milestones needed to reach it.
It also serves as a communication tool, a high-level document that helps articulate strategic thinking—the why—behind both the goal and the plan for getting there.
Although we at ProductPlan generally discuss the roadmap as a strategic tool for guiding the development of products, it can be used for all types of strategic initiatives.
You have a bold vision for your product. The high-level strategic planning is done — now you need a roadmap for what you will deliver and when. This might be the launch of a new product to customers, enhancements to an existing one, or even an internal product used by your organization.
Your product roadmap lays out the big efforts required to meet your overall business objectives and the timeline for implementing features and requirements that align with your strategy. It should be separate from other planning materials, such as lists of ideas and feature requests, a backlog of work, or bug reports. Those materials inform what goes on your roadmap, after careful review and consideration from you — the product manager.
Roadmapping is not easy. Every company demands different types of Roadmaps, and every PM has their own flavour. Here is a step by step process to create roadmaps so you can influence anyone in your company like a true Jedi.
So what is Product Roadmap?
A product roadmap is a tool used by PM’s to communicate the what and the why of a product. A great roadmap helps PM’s achieve the following:
1. It ensures the product team understand what they are working towards, by aligning the product to the company’s short term and long term goals.
2. It enables effective allocation of time, money and people, by communicating expectations, priorities and schedules.
3. It sets a basis for prioritisation discussions and provides a focus for your company.
Summary: A product roadmap is a plan of action for how a product or solution will evolve over time. Product owners use roadmaps to outline future product functionality and when new features will be released. When used in agile development, a roadmap provides crucial context for the team's everyday work and should be responsive to shifts in the competitive landscape.
The idea that agile development discards long term planning may be the biggest myth since the Loch Ness Monster. A roadmap is every bit as important to an agile team as it is to a waterfall team because it provides context around the team's every-day work, and responds to shifts in the competitive landscape. But unlike a certain legendary Scottish water beast, an agile roadmap done right is easy to find and easy to understand.
An organization-wide roadmapping process can help you bring the business goals front-and-centerfor everyone to understand and act on. This high-level document is a visual representation of a strategy: it answers the questions of what will be done, who will be involved in the work, the details of scope and resource allocation, as well as how and why certain initiatives were prioritized over others.
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