Roadmap n. [rōd-map]: A detailed plan to guide progress toward a goal; A map that shows the roads in a particular area.
Just as a map helps you reach your desired destination, product roadmaps provide organizations a plan to get from where you are now to the vision described in your product strategy.
A product roadmap outlines the end-to-end vision of the product, particulars on achieving the product strategy and the big picture context in terms of what the product will become. A description of the incremental nature of how a product will be built and delivered over a set time, along with the important factors that drive each individual release.
A product roadmap is a plan that integrates market and customer needs, product evolution, and introduction of new technologies at the beginning of their development journey.
It provides an overall view of the product's requirements and high-level initiatives for planning and organizing the journey of product development, i.e., listing key functionalities or release themes, laid out in rough timeframes, planned or proposed product releases, — usually the target calendar or fiscal quarter — for a period of 2 or 3 significant feature releases into the future.
It serves as an instrument to communicate direction and progress to internal teams and external stakeholders - team members, business partners, customers, etc.
A roadmap is part of product management document. It provides guidance rather than a strict project plan.
It should also be agile and a living document rather than an absolute plan set in stone. It involves a continuous process throughout the lifecycle of a product.
It should not include every feature in the product backlog, or a list of specific engineering bugs.
It should be regularly discussed, prioritized, estimated, updated, and shared.
It can apply to new products or services or existing offerings.
A roadmap is usually a graphical depiction of the product plan and strategy.
Sample of a simple Roadmap
Why is Product Roadmap important?
Internal roadmaps can be used for driving development priorities, communicating to upper management and other departments and for use in obtaining funding for the company.
External roadmaps are used for communicating to customers, partners, press and analysts. External roadmaps should be based on the corresponding internal roadmaps, but should address the most relevant issues and topics.
Roadmaps link business strategy and market data with product and technology decisions.
Roadmaps support making decisions regarding when plans should change, and determining the impact potential changes might have on a particular product or service.
Who is responsible for the Product Roadmap?
In an agile context, the product owner owns the entire product. Product Management is responsible for building, maintaining, and presenting the product roadmap inside and outside of the company. A cross-functional team comprises customers, partners, sales, support, management, engineering, operations, and product management contributes to the product requirements and features.
"All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination." -- Earl Nightingale