Strategic planning for roadmap

I have a roadmapping question - how do you strategically plan for the foreseeable future and build a roadmap that doesn’t necessarily change? And how far ahead do you plan for? What’s the best way in your opinion to showcase that roadmap to management, and to other stakeholders, including your customers?


When I set the vision for a product I work on, it’s important to me that the roadmap is adaptable to changing requirements or competitor landscape. Without enough data, it’s hard to know that a roadmap will be concrete unless you have convincing data to pull from. It’s important to pivot if customer signals are showing you are going in the wrong direction. When possible, I ensure that there is documentation on the roadmap that anyone can access, and if possible, will also share with our community (in particular for open source projects).


As an essential part of strategic planning, you would need to visually communicate the ambitions and key milestones. That’s where roadmaps come in handy. They help the stakeholders understand the goals, targets, allocated resources, and expected deliverables, all plotted out on a timeline. The plan gives an overview of the tactical details while the roadmap outlines the big picture, i.e., the most important components and milestones. As far as showcasing your roadmap to the management is concerned, it should be advisable to keep them posted at every stage of your development, right from the point when you start building the roadmap.


A few key points to build an effective product roadmap could be summed up as follows:

  1. Present a visual Product Roadmap
  2. Create a Flexible roadmap (if possible, create a collaborative product roadmap with your team)
    3.Have different versions of your product roadmap.
  3. Share your product roadmap with your stakeholders
  4. Involve your stakeholder community at regular intervals
  5. Spend at least 15 minutes with your product roadmap, first thing in the morning

Product roadmaps are created with the intention to be shared with internal development teams and others who have a role in the product’s success. Rather than being static, your roadmap should function like a reader board that gives a current snapshot of project status. So, in order for your product roadmap to do its job well, it needs consistent input from the product owner. This means updating your roadmap daily to capture any market changes, new planning directions, added resources, or changes in priorities. By regularly updating your roadmap, you help your constituents understand factors that account for your product’s progress or delays.
Karthik Vijayakumar, podcaster, author, and product maker at Design Your Thinking, asserts that continual updates also create a deep level of shared ownership that in turn drives results. “Without this,” he says, “product roadmaps end up in nice documents without having seen the daylight”.


Maintaining flexibility in your timeline and deliverables will enable your team to react calmly to roadblocks, and to adapt your plan to fit changing needs. However, keep in mind that a product roadmap should have a single owner - this individual is the only person with the authority to add and remove items.

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Product roadmaps organize and communicate a lot of information: what your development team is building, the problem the product will fix, as well as the business goals your product aspires to achieve. This means that your road map has the opportunity to speak directly to external or internal concerns and paint a clear picture of your intentions. To executives, the roadmap validates your product’s usefulness to a market that aligns with the organization’s strategic direction, and also proves that it enhances the company’s position. To your development team, your roadmap demonstrates progress and fosters inspiration. And to other internal departments—sales and marketing—your product roadmap sets expectations about product benefits, its comparisons to other similar products, and the potential for conversions. To external customers, a product roadmap shows that you value their input and care about their needs. By sharing a roadmap externally, you signal that their awareness is a crucial part of your product’s success, which increases the likelihood of purchase. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to engage with customers and emphasize your brand story.