Monday 16 May 2022
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How and Why to Build a Solid Software Product Roadmap

How and Why to Build a Solid Software Product Roadmap

If you have a software business, chances are you have heard of a software product roadmap. In fact, you may have already made a few for your software business. We hope this article will help you understand how to build a product roadmap for your software business as well as why you need a software development product roadmap in the first place. 

What Is Product Roadmap?

The purpose of a product roadmap is to provide you with an overview of all elements of a new product that is currently in the works. You can expect a product roadmap to include goals, features, resources, and a timeline. A roadmap will describe the problem that the product is intended to solve as well as the goals that the new software will help your business achieve. Essentially, the purpose of a product roadmap is to help track the development of a product and make sure that everyone involved in the product development process is on the same page.

Below is a short list of items you should include in your Product Roadmap:

  • A timeline: this is essential and possibly one of the key goals behind the map. Understanding the road ahead, how much time you need to plan for at each phase, what roadblocks you may run into… it is best to try to plan for as many of these as possible for many reasons, from budgeting to coordinating with other product launches you may have on the horizon.
  • Task descriptions: There will be many action items to allocate to the teams involved, but you need to focus on the priorities.  When you pinpoint what is to be done, it makes it much easier to start with the general functions and finish with specific ones. This type of clarification can help to determine responsibilities and where to allocate time from the very start.
  • Goals should be determined at each phase and function: These goals become the Objectives and finally the Key Results, those of the product and those which are time-sensitive. Measuring the progress should be built into the process at the very beginning. As the roadmap moves forward there should be a way to measure its progress. Otherwise, it would feel like you would be running in place.
  • Data, data, and data: While you not standard to draw up your roadmap with a huge amount of analytics, you should be able to quantify each decision with the right sort of data. Why does this function matter to the project? What are the gains at each step and which ones make the most impact, when? You should have information to back that up.
  • Overall vision: Ultimately, every single element of this roadmap should justify and reinforce your product vision. That is the mission that you are seeking to fulfill with your product. Everything you do should help you tell your story!

To get right to the point, a Product Roadmap has many elements incorporated into it:  marketing strategy, a business plan, a feature description, a list of essential tasks and priority targets; all mixed together.

Why Should You Build a Product Roadmap for Your Software Business?

In the business world, it is incredibly important to keep track of progress towards goals, manage expectations, and maintain open lines of communication.

You can also use a product roadmap as a project management tool. A roadmap can also make it possible for all stakeholders to provide input when it comes to product goals and progress. Product roadmaps are tools that allow you to make rough timelines and objectives for the future for the product. Any organization or software company that develops technology can benefit from the use of product roadmaps.

How to Build a Product Roadmap

It is a good idea to build a software development product roadmap using a strategic roadmap template. As you can probably imagine, a product roadmap should be an ever-changing document. Therefore, you want to edit the product roadmap in a tool that allows you to update the document when changes need to be made. The format of a product roadmap is often similar to that of a gantt chart, which is a horizontal bar chart.

The product roadmap should consist of a timeline as well as the projects expected to be completed within that timeline. If your roadmap is goal-oriented, each goal should be measurable. If a goal is not measurable, it will probably be difficult to determine whether you truly fulfilled the goal. For example, instead of setting a goal to acquire more customers, you should identify the number of new customers that you want to acquire.

A common mistake that many software companies make when building a product roadmap is adding too many details to the roadmap. However, the ideal product roadmap is actually easy to understand and simple. Be sure to focus on your goals to ensure the product roadmap consists of what truly matters. The features of the product should be briefly described and based on your goals. Other details like the user stories, epics, UI designs, and scenarios should be in the software requirements document instead of the roadmap.

A product roadmap will help your software business develop the best products to fit in with your market strategy. As you try out and begin using product roadmaps for the first time, you will enjoy the benefits of having everyone on the same page. For more information about how to build a software development product roadmap for your software business, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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