Product roadmaps lay out the grand strategy behind anything a company builds.
In a product roadmap, you’ll see a plan for who will do what, how those efforts intersect with each other, and a guide that the whole product team can refer back to as they go about daily tasks.
A roadmap is typically owned by a product manager, whose job it is to create clear communication and set concrete expectations for everyone involved.
While the language in a product roadmap should be clear and definitive, roadmaps are also living documents, subject to change. As market circumstances shift and the project evolves, a product roadmap might morph. When you draft your product vision and strategy, understand that certain elements will shift.
In the early stages of building a product roadmap, you might find it helpful to have examples as models. Those examples should illustrate best practices and help you focus on the kind of data to include in your own.
Below you’ll find examples of product roadmaps—and roadmap templates—to set the stage and give you a foundation from which to work.
First, let’s review best practices and the formula for a successful product roadmap.
While every roadmap is unique, the best typically have five foundational elements in common: features, requirements, dependencies, tasks, and timelines.
As we walk through these elements, we’ll focus on roadmaps for digital products such as apps, websites, and software platforms.
These three elements are essential to digital products, and planning for them is at the heart of any product roadmap.
Features — New or upgraded functions that deliver value to your users and let them do things.
Requirements — These are what’s needed to deliver any feature. Features may have multiple requirements.
Dependencies — Anything a team or individual stakeholder relies on to do work on any other part of a project; for example, building a feature may have multiple requirements and multiple dependencies.
Think of these three intertwined components as the content of the roadmap.
Equally important: tasks and timelines, which give the roadmap structure.
Tasks — Individual “to-do” items for developers that build toward feature development or a product launch.
Timelines — The cadence at which tasks will be finished, including milestones and deadlines.
Combine all of these elements, and you have a product roadmap.
Lay out your business goals and product vision up front. Your roadmap is the path to get there, so you have to know exactly where “there” is. Make sure everyone on the team is oriented around the same goalposts. Your ultimate objective (“Be the most popular CRM in the world”) should be clear.
Rank ideas from the outset. Creating a priority order for features and tasks is half the battle. You may receive input from the product team, or from others around the company. You won’t have time or resources for everything, so knowing the order of importance will prove valuable.
Define your audience. Will your roadmap be used primarily to keep the development team on track? To pitch ideas to potential investors? To build media buzz? All of the above? Knowing who you’re creating the roadmap for will help you land on the best format and content.
Commit to keeping your product roadmap updated and build a process for doing so. Remember, it’s not a static snapshot but a living document that grows and changes as the project advances.
Keep ownership clear. The product roadmap should clearly identify who is responsible for what. This helps your team ensure a fair division of labor and will help members avoid duplicative work.
Never overpromise. Laying out your vision and prioritizing ideas will keep you realistic about how much you can achieve, and by when.
These best practices will lead to better products and happier teams. Now let’s move on to roadmap examples.
While a simple spreadsheet or Word doc may sometimes suffice, the best product roadmaps are built on relational databases, where information can be viewed in different ways, held in separate records, and accessed in the cloud. This gives teams many ways to view and use information. For example, your team might opt for a grid view, calendar view, kanban format, or a Gantt chart.
While each view has its own purpose and focus, all allow for display of the core elements discussed earlier: features, requirements, dependencies, tasks, and timelines.
This product roadmap template , designed by a team at Airtable, lets you log feature requests, create priorities, track product development progress, and collaborate in one central place.
The roadmap defaults to a list view of all features (as shown above), but using the navigation panel on the left, you can also choose a calendar of features, a status board in kanban view, a feature leaderboard, and other subsets of information and views. “Deprioritized features” are held in their own list, separate from “core product features.”
Drilling down to individual records gives you more detail about projects and priorities. Within the features table, you can see information about every feature including the effort required, product development status, and key dates.
In another table you can see written descriptions of parts of the product, along with team members and meeting notes. By keeping the two sets of information separate, one view does not get cluttered. Because they live within an Airtable base, the information is all connected.
In a kanban view of the same roadmap, you can see how easy it is to control and change your pipeline.
Watch a video walkthrough of this roadmap
“Winging it” isn't a good product strategy for any company, large or small. But startups have particularly specific product needs.
Eyal Herman, Chief Product Officer at RMDY Health, designed this roadmap to help manage his team of product managers, designers, and data analysts.
His roadmap for a new product contains views for stories, epics, domains, and sprints. Within the sprints view, for example, you can see: all sprints, active sprints, or a kanban view of sprints. There’s also a view that lets you see who owns which role and features.
While the roadmap has been anonymized for sharing, you can see how to plug in your own feature development details.
The audience for this roadmap, designed by the Open Data Charter, is government officials tasked with helping their organizations adopt and implement the principles of the Charter. While this exact scenario may not apply to your organization, it’s still a great example of a product roadmap built on Airtable—one that could easily be repurposed.
Rather than simply viewing dense information in rows and columns, government officials can click into a Gallery view of the data, which gives a more immediate visual sense for the stage of each initiative and suggested actions.
Though it looks simple, this roadmap holds a lot of information. Activities are broken down by stage, color-coded by theme, and contain detailed descriptions. You can see suggested actions when you click on any record.
The ability to dig deeper by clicking on individual records is a signature Airtable feature (and is common in relational databases generally). If you update information once in a record, that information is then updated everywhere else.
This is key for product roadmaps, which are living documents that should reflect changes as priorities shift, deadlines move, team members are hired, or other factors come up.
Roadmaps are critical to startups because without them, young organizations can get overzealous about how many features they can implement at once.
Technology adviser and writer Laura Bosco recommends a startup roadmap include three to six months’ worth of plans, including a prioritized list of features and just enough detail to be useful. But, she warns, it shouldn’t include “every idea that’s ever popped into your head, stuff you may do two years from now, and specific dates.” Save that level of detail for project-management documentation. The product roadmap is a higher-level view.
Here’s a basic template for a product roadmap Bosco built in Airtable:
One of your objectives with a product roadmap should be to ruthlessly excise features from your first-version release. The more features you can safely move to version two, the higher your chances of a well-built, thoughtful, successful first release.
Read Bosco’s excellent breakdown of her thought process on Krit.com
Airtable’s wide range of product-related templates let teams create a huge range of product strategy documents, from product ops to product launch.
Our thousands of app integrations let you keep using the workflow tools you’re already using and share the data they contain with your product roadmap doc. Our free templates, including the Airtable product roadmap template, will help you get a quick start.
For more information about how to build beautiful roadmaps with Airtable, visit our roadmap hub.
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