The Product Roadmap: 3 Key Fundamentals

To be able to land and succeed in a product management job, your first goal should be to fully understand what the job entails. You want to know what to expect when you take your first step into the world of Product Managers. One of the most fundamental aspects of being a Product Manager is creating a product roadmap for your teams. Prep for your Product Manager interview by making sure you understand the key fundamentals of creating a quality product roadmap.

What Is a Product Roadmap?

A product roadmap is a visual or graphic that highlights and lays out the future for your product. It marks which direction your product is headed towards, and what obstacles are there that you and your team will have to work against or around. It’s a guide for executing strategies to further benefit your product(s) in the future, as well as communicate to others the general idea(s) behind your product(s).

The product roadmap includes:

  • Product Strategies and goals.
  • What features should be built for the product.
  • The time in which the features for the products will be built.
  • The distribution of responsibility for product and feature building.
  • Priorities of the company.

As a Product Manager, you’ll be the main person solely in command of creating a good Product Roadmap for your company. You’ll need to understand the needs of both the consumer and the production side of the products, as well as the functionality of the product. A successful product roadmap emphasizes the needs of the consumer, how to distribute responsibilities throughout the workforce in order to meet those needs and features, and the deadlines of the production.

Here are 3 key fundamentals on which to build your product roadmap.

1. Customer Optimization

With a product roadmap, you want to prioritize all ideas from the perspective of the consumer. The entire purpose of a product is to engage it with the customers. If there is no optimization for customer engagement within the product, it’ll quickly become irrelevant to the consumer populace. In order to achieve optimization, be sure you receive customer inputs and feedback. Then take all of these pieces of information into account with producing a product roadmap.

2. Gain a Multitude of Sources and Feedback for the Product

The Product Manager may be the one in charge of creating the entirety of the Product Roadmap, but that doesn’t mean a PM works on the layout of the roadmap alone. To create a successful product roadmap, the Product Manager should engage with the other departments and key stakeholders of the product. Secure an understanding of the needs and capabilities available, and provide a comprehensive overview of the roadmap as a whole. Some key persons and departments to ask include:

  • Customers / Consumers
  • Engineering Department
  • Sales and Marketing Department
  • Partners

3. Focus on High-Level Priorities

When establishing a Product Roadmap, time will be limited. You should be able to recognize which issues are of the utmost importance and react in relation to that. Tackle the high-level issues and priorities first, instead of attempting to mitigate them or dealing with them later on. For example, if an issue arose and is going to be an obstacle in your path, you should deal with it sooner, rather than later. This creates less stress later on, and a lower chance for immediate issues down the road.

Tips for Making a Great Product Roadmap

  • Focus on the end goals and benefits: Be sure to keep both you and your team focused on the goals you wish to accomplish. Also, focus on the overall benefits of each part of the roadmap. Benefits can apply to the company as well as individuals.
  • Be prepared for everything: You can never be too prepared, especially when it comes to visually creating a map for the future. A roadmap is what it sounds like: a map for your company and each individual on your teams. Always be prepared. Continue thinking of scenarios that your product may encounter, whether it be the implementation of a function or not.
  • Keep it simple and organized design-wise: Remember to keep your product roadmap organized and structured design-wise. This will help you avoid confusion among your peers. A clean map is always the way to go, and it leads towards the road to success.
  • Show dates (especially for specific tasks): When you’re done with the roadmap, be sure to show dates for all of your products. This way your teams can stay organized and on task, as there will be strict due dates every step of the way.
  • Determine the costs for everything: Costs will always be important. You should always consider the costs when it comes to implementations and other necessities throughout the life of the product. If something is too costly, try considering an alternative.
  • Regularly check, maintain, and update the roadmap: This is possibly the most important matter to remember when it comes to conducting a roadmap. Throughout the course of a product, the roadmap will always be changing and updating — check for due dates or slow-downs. Also, keep the roadmap updated with new requirements or dates, etc.

Product Roadmap and the Successful PM

Product Management is a difficult and stressful role, but incredibly important to a company. There are many stakes to hold when it comes to Product Management, with one of them being the creation of a product roadmap for the team. You are solely responsible for constructing a good roadmap and laying out the foundations for the future of your company’s direction. 

Looking to transition to product management? Check out our free training to get started. When you’re ready to kickstart your PM career and generate more interviews and offers, give us a call.

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