Product roadmaps are an absolute necessity in product management. If you are new to product management or you just switched to a new PM role in a new company and need to move quickly and build out your product roadmap, milestones, and initiatives you will need a comprehensive product roadmap template to get started.
It is critical to understand the drivers behind needing your product roadmap. Here are some questions you may ask yourself:
Are there new features?
What are the product goals handed down from upper-management?
Are moving items from the backlog to be included in this quarter’s business goals?
Are customers asking to see which product features are planned for next quarter’s product release?
Is management wanting a high-level overview of your strategy?
Does the development team want a detailed view of the work to come?
This guide covers several common scenarios, hands-on product roadmap templates, and a comparison chart for the different types of roadmaps. I’ll provide guidance for how each template fits into your company’s product vision & product strategy, highlight the benefits and drawbacks, and mention best product development practices.
As an easy way to get started, you will find provided Google Sheets product roadmap templates that can easily be converted to Excel. This can be shared with scrum & agile development teams and implemented into their workflows. Once you have mastered these Excel templates, using a leading product roadmap tool such as Aha or ProductPlan, is highly recommended.
As this is a pragmatic guide diving right into using product roadmap templates, if you would like to learn more about what a product roadmap is and best practices for creating a roadmap to socialize the big picture with internal stakeholders and external stakeholders, check out these helpful articles:
The GO product roadmap template depicts all the features that are grouped together with each task to be easily understood by team members, internal stakeholders, and external stakeholders. That means it is easier to grasp what each new feature is about. Allowing the product vision to be easily understood.
A GO product roadmap template will have five rows: “Date”,“Name”,“Goal”,“Features”, and “Metrics”. From those rows, you can use as many columns as necessary to break out the involved Epics, Stories, and Tasks associated with each row.
Using a GO product roadmap template is best for creating a product that follows Lean Principles or Scrum. You can use it to set product goals, oversee release planning, coordinate with developers, and launch various products.
Similar to the goal-oriented product roadmap template, this type of roadmap centers around themes. A theme is best put as “a high-level strategic objective for the product”, such as improved usability for every screen in the app, or 15% average speed increase per page, or drive more shopping cart completions.
New features are bucketed into categories, categories live under the theme, and are often epic level. For example, looking at the shopping cart completions theme, categories could include Mobile Support, Credit Card Payments, and UX Enhancements.
Each category has its own product goals and tasks to reach those product goals. This provides a more detailed breakdown of what work is being done by team members, and where it is being done, and empowers the project management team. Theme-oriented product roadmaps are excellent for breaking down major initiatives in a visually easy to consume way for a broad set of stakeholders. This is especially helpful for presenting to upper management or the c-suite.
3. Feature-Based Product Roadmap Template / Features Roadmap Template
The feature-based roadmap encompasses each new feature as core focus points for your overall product strategy, making it very high-resolution. Typically the rows represent key initiatives and goals spread across the columns, representing a time frame, often quarters.
It is easy to understand how new features break down and the logic behind them, and sub (or related) tasks required by the development team.
This roadmap type can elevate your product roadmap academic and “expert” level, leading to difficulty in understanding and lack of clarity for stakeholders. It is less of a birds-eye-view roadmap and more of a deep internal planning roadmap for the product team and development team.
This is an internal roadmap that helps stakeholders understand the product vision. This can work for both internal stakeholders and external stakeholders alike. It provides information about the product’s strategy in high-level terms.
Typically a strategy-based roadmap is organized by the highest-priority initiative based on the business’ KPIs (e.g. total daily orders, avg time per order, etc.). For an eCommerce company, the top initiative could be “enhance check-out flow”, “new payment screen”, and “mobile-optimized product pages”. These initiatives can be laid out across a time frame such as months or quarters.
Strategy roadmaps are essential for new products, product launches, and of course, for strategic initiatives. They are great for internal use, typically on the team all the way up to the c-level, similar to the theme-based roadmap use-cases.
A status-oriented roadmap will allow the development teams and other team members to understand where the development team’s progress is at, without necessarily committing to any kind of time frame and release dates.
A status-oriented roadmap is considered a “simple” roadmap as it is lower resolution without release dates. It leverages three columns or states: “Now”, “Next”, and “Later”. This can help the stakeholders understand the short-term prioritization better without getting into the weeds for time frames or “real-time” changes.
Status-oriented roadmaps are often best used for fast roadmap “prototyping” where you want to convey an idea to a broad set of internal or external stakeholders without having all the level of effort (LOE) or estimates/resources figured out.
A release roadmap is typically used for customer presentations. Very suitable to showcase a new product’s release plan or run a webinar for customers depicting upcoming product deliverables. This roadmap will focus on one objective, the firm’s business objectives.
Generally, this product roadmap template is light on technical details. It mainly provides an overview of which new features will be released, track progress, and present the time frame of the development process to others.
This roadmap is geared toward internal feature development. It allows agile teams and a broad set of stakeholders to understand your vision as a product manager.
An ideal choice is when the organization has a particular set of business objectives for a quarter. Such as “UI Improvements”, “Accessibility”, or “Security”.
Perfect for showing a deep dive into a particular initiative / new feature. For example, if your company is releasing a new authentication system, being able to show stakeholders a deep dive into all things “auth” would be a powerful roadmap for the audience.
Status-driven roadmaps work well for both internal and external stakeholders. It allows you to showcase features you are working on as a product manager without the need to get into the weeds. This also can be used to show multiple project roadmaps together, i.e. a portfolio roadmap.
This roadmap works well for external customer uses. It allows prospects and customers to get a sense of key new features being delivered in a given time frame and what to expect. Perfect for strategic planning.
These templates will assist you in developing strong strategic plans, tracking progress, and building a transparent roadmap. You’ll be able to visually work with stakeholders through your decisions and ensure all information is up-to-date, precise, and updated in real-time in an easy to consume format.
Hands-on product development and detailed product roadmaps are at the core of any successful business. Especially when building new products. With this guide, you can now jump into your roadmap planning and ship those new features in a thoughtful, organized, and agile way.