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What is a product roadmap, and why is it important?


A product roadmap (”roadmap”) is an artifact that communicates the product team’s intent to deliver value to the market. Let’s decompose this (very dense) definition.

Roadmaps are:

  • an artifact that is captured in many different formats, e.g., Excel, PowerPoint, specialized tools

  • a communication tool from the team, especially the product manager, to stakeholders both internal and external

  • a statement of intent. Plans can change as underlying assumptions are invalidated

  • about value to the market (not just existing customers). This value can be expressed in many ways, including features.

Roadmap Elements

Product roadmaps have 2 “elements”:

The representation expresses the value to be delivered and the timing. Common representations are:

  • a list

  • a set of milestones

  • a Gantt chart

Business Context is the information readers need to understand why the value depicted on the roadmap was chosen and how the timing is relevant. Business context can include:

  • Goals & objectives

  • Strategy

  • Target market segments

  • Market insights

  • Positioning in the portfolio

  • Ecosystem considerations

Why are roadmaps important?

Product roadmaps are important because they:

  • demonstrate how the product teams plan to deliver on our product strategy

  • helps align internal stakeholders around strategic intent

  • allow stakeholders to plan and provide feedback on the upcoming delivery of value

Who is accountable for creating the product roadmap?

Product managers should be accountable for defining the product roadmap. However, that doesn't mean they do it by themselves! Great roadmaps reflect input from key stakeholders and are formally validated by them.

Strategic Execution

Publishing a strategic roadmap is one of the key steps in strategic execution. We must first define success (goals and objetives), formulate a strategy for achieving success, and then create a roadmap.

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