#Guides | 20 min read | Updated: 8/16/2022

How to Build a Product Roadmap: 2022 Best Practices and Pro Tips

Updated: 8/16/2022
, Project Manager
#Guides
20 min read

In 2021 the main reason for the failure of startups, over 38% of businesses, was running out of funds. Nowadays companies know how to build a product roadmap that can create a smooth management process and excel at future fundraising endeavors.   

Startups need a product roadmap strategy that shows how their product will be developed. However, before we get into that, we will explain in more detail why startups need the product roadmaps and how to start them correctly.

What Is a Product Roadmap?

A product roadmap is a shared visual guide that leads the product work level plan with a description of

  • product vision
  • strategy
  • possible plan risks
  • priorities and progress

It’s a helpful step-by-step guide for startup product management and stakeholders.

An ideal product roadmap plan should include: 

  • product strategy
  • goals and metrics
  • features and product hypotheses
  • technology stack 
  • level deadline and milestones
  • results after each phase

A product roadmap guide often looks like a mind map for stakeholders. But it’s used for strategic planning and carrying out the startup’s business mission.

Who Needs a Product Roadmap?

Creating a product roadmap plan is beneficial for startup businesses and all involved in its level work. Roadmaps should contain vital information for everyone involved in the management process such as:

Software Developers

A product roadmap helps align business goals with technology solutions. Developers get a guided roadmap plan with level deadlines and milestones as well as a way to think about dependent tasks and understand possible risks.

Top Management

Top managers and stakeholders need to understand whether the product roadmap is compatible with the company’s goals. Also, top managers can present a product roadmap to investors to get funding. 

Project Managers

Project managers can simplify communication between the developers and the clients. They also schedule:

  • experts’ tasks based on time and milestones
  • check level statuses as they work throughout the entire customer project

Why is Roadmapping so Important?

Product roadmaps are extremely important for startups.

Without a clear and comprehensive product roadmap, the startup’s teams may interpret the product roadmap and vision differently. 

Different product visions may lead to your teams not being able to work cohesively on the implementation of the product roadmaps. It will take the project in different roadmap directions. Thus, this miscommunication can cause a product to crash. It also slows down its roadmap progress towards the desired roadmap goal for stakeholders.

Product roadmap software combined with analytics tools is the first resource product companies spend their budget on in 2021. Based on product management reports, this source takes up more than 30% of all product management budgets. 

Over the last five years, there was a noticeable increase in different types of product roadmap tools. This activity is likely going to continue at least until the end of 2028.

How to make a product roadmap: Roadmap software and tool guide usage

Source: Secondary Roadmap Research, Primary Interviews, Friar Markets Analysis

Despite the active growth dynamics of the product roadmap tool, about 20% of project managers still suffer from a lack of digital roadmap resources.

How to Create a Unique Format for Your Product Roadmap

Since a roadmap wireframe is a template, a startup business can develop its own unique roadmap. It will include:

  • creating a product strategy
  • product features with their descriptions
  • level deadlines to a release
  • product roadmap solution unique to the company

However, to develop a one-of-a-kind product roadmap, let’s determine the main types of roadmap templates available on the market. As a rule, all roadmap templates have a free trial period to use.

Brian Lawley, the CEO and Founder of 280 Group, and author of five best-selling product management books, gives the 4 most common classifications of product roadmaps:

Portfolio Roadmap

How to make a product roadmap: Roadmunk is one of guide templates

Roadmap templates: Roadmunk

A portfolio management roadmap guide visualizes when products are planned to be released, and scaled.

This product roadmap usually unites several company products together in one comprehensive branched table. Such type of product roadmap guide templates set out roadmaps that the building teams and the product managers have chosen vision for the company’s future direction. 

Strategy Roadmap

How to use a strategy roadmap: Aha! is one of guide templates

Strategic roadmap templates: Aha!

A strategy management roadmap guide describes the steps that the team needs to take to achieve the startup’s business goals and objectives.

As a rule, a strategic product roadmap includes:

  • company’s strategic vision
  • roadmap values and goals
  • product roadmap ideas in templates
  • potential roadmap obstacles, and ways to solve them

Without a strategic product roadmap guide, it would be difficult for the internal teams to:

  • make key decisions
  • take on risks without understanding how the situation might develop due to inaction or downtime

Release Roadmap

How to create release roadmap: Aha! is one of guide templates

Release roadmap templates: Aha!

A release product roadmap guide, sometimes called a release management plan, visualizes the main work level stages before the product’s release.

This product roadmap is important for communication with startup participants about their areas of responsibility and expected results.

A release product roadmap plan is a great roadmap tool that allows developers, marketers, customer support, and other internal experts to successfully work together to release a startup product on time.

Features Roadmap

How to make a product feature roadmap: Jira is one of guide templates

Features roadmap templates: Jira

A roadmap guide of features is a guide with a timeline that shows all the product roadmap features along with their implementation timing.

This type of templates helps clarify for the startup members, investors, and customers what to expect from future updates and what features will be added. 

Product features roadmaps are often tailored to meet customer needs, as they are one of the main priorities when creating a startup.

Before You Start: How to Plan What Goes Into the Roadmap

Before creating a startup, it is vital to determine how to build a product roadmap that will set up the best plan for companies. When starting to implement a product roadmap, Sloboda Studio advises paying attention to the goal of the startup, the life-affirming heart of the future product.

Defining Your Product Vision

First of all, business owners need to have a clear vision of product management. This helps to show the potential customers as well as the teams, why, and for what purpose the product is being created. For a startup, the product will be vital in helping customers solve some significant problems.

startups roadmap progress

As practice shows, about 36% of startup failures are due to the changing goals of the product, as well as the absence of one core goal for creating the product roadmaps and their vision. Therefore, before investing money in an idea level, be sure that you confirm its roadmap vision validity beforehand.

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Sloboda Studio created a worldwide top list of investment companies to help you with your marketplace startup.

top reasons why startups and their roadmaps fail

Source: Failory, CBinInsights, Startup devKit

Identifying Your Target Audience

For each business, it is vital to determine who the target customer is and what they need. Ideally, companies need this type of crucial data about their future users: 

  • customer’s age
  • industry
  • hobbies and free time activities
  • pain points
  • what’s important for them, etc.

Having learned everything about their potential customer, businesses need to create a portrait of a future customer. Focusing on the customer portrait, the next stage will be defining the product roadmap goals and deadlines for their implementation.

Generating a Goal for a Specific Time Period

If companies want to succeed, generating goals for a specific time period is a necessary part of the vision process so that the tech team can meet roadmap deadlines and reach milestones smoothly. If the business doesn’t have deadlines, this might result in an overstated process and the roadmap plan will be violated.

Creating a targeted plan for a specific period is crucial when creating a product roadmap vision. If companies follow a roadmap vision, chances are higher that they will be able to overtake competitors and get into the market first.

Determining Problems to be Solved

When creating a new product, it is important to calculate in advance any possible risks and ways to solve them. 

Determining as many potential management tricks as possible early on will help to set up a smooth work prepared for future challenges and will help to avoid vision stalling.

Aligning Goals with Your Internal Team and Stakeholders

Once companies have decided on the product goals, it is necessary to coordinate them with the internal staff, stakeholders, and investors. Since investors are directly interested in creating a quality features product, the goal of the product roadmap strategy should also coincide with the expectations of the stakeholders.

It is particularly crucial that the startup product meets the expectations of all the roadmap parties involved and does not produce any conflict due to an incompatible vision of the product.

Prioritizing the Steps of Your Product Strategy

Prioritization is an essential point to consider before creating a product roadmap. Сompanies claimed that a lack of prioritization was the biggest struggle faced by organizations of various sizes.

how to make a product roadmap: Prioritization for startup businesses and their roadmaps

Source: Product Roadmap Plan Survey 2021

Prioritization of the production strategy starts by defining the main elements that will be reflected on the product roadmap:

  • functionality and level deadlines in templates
  • roles of each expert included in the process
  • critical situations in the process and ways out of them

Once you have listed the main elements in templates, you need to move on to multi-level vertices and specific product roadmap functions. However, there is no need to overload a product roadmap vision with a detailed presentation of every single task.

If startups have any problems with evaluating or prioritizing product roadmap tasks, the best solution is to utilize a weighted startup formula that will help calculate the appropriate priority assigned to each product roadmap task. 

But first, companies need to understand what goes into the task priority formula. The priority assigned to the task depends on its size and the cost of the delay.

Task Priority Formula for Roadmap

Source: ScaledAgileFramework, Issart

The size of the task refers to its technical complexity and the amount of time it takes to complete.

The cost of the delay should be based on:

  • Importance of the launch
  • Time to market
  • Possible risks and ways of overcoming them