Say you're building a product, be it software or hardware (or innovative alien technology), you may need a product roadmap. Why? It helps you set out the vision, strategy, and goals for what you're creating.
It doesn't matter if you're working on your startup as a solo founder or work in an enterprise as a product manager, business analyst, or project manager. Yes, the detail and format may change somewhat depending on where and how you work. I mean, it could be that you work in an Agile environment or are the decision-maker, or maybe you need stakeholder 'buy-in' from lots of people. No matter, a good product roadmap helps a ton.
In the list I made below, you can review if you took into account some crucial points.
So without further ado, I present to you the 'Epic Product Roadmap Checklist!'
- Do you really know what the audience of your product needs?
- Make sure the strategy for your product is correct before spending time defining features and metrics.
- Don't fear to say no (in a kind way) if stakeholders want to push in irrelevant features.
- Don't try to put everything in the roadmap. Remember, you still have a product backlog for detailed user stories.
- Did you get buy-in from everyone involved? Development team, marketing, sales, sponsors, etc.? Involve them in the creation. It is not a one-man-show.
- Is the timeframe for the milestones realistic? Not too long, not too short.
- Make sure it is clear what you prioritize on. Time, Budget, or Goal.
- Are your users ready for the release schedules? Is the cadence steady and right for them?
- Remember, goals > features.
- How does the product(roadmap) fit in with other products and their release schedules?
- Do ask others for input. You did that, right.
- Determine and update the metrics you track for measuring your goals.
- Tell a story through the roadmap that is both convincing and achievable.
- Is the roadmap laid out contextually? I.e., communicate every important decision that you made in creating the roadmap.
- To get better buy-in, did you address doubts of influential stakeholders beforehand?
- Did you gather all requirements?
- Are all requirements cut up into manageable and logic parts?
- Don't tell others HOW to do the work of what they need to do (in the roadmap). Only show WHY and WHAT.
- Have you made a good business case for everything on the roadmap? Is the value clear? Is it measurable?
- Don't go overboard with the details when the roadmap is for a (small) startup. On the other hand, a place to do this is in enterprise-grade businesses.
- Don't hide unknown-unknowns. Keep researching until you at least have the potential scope failure of a (sub)product.
- Take into account what your teammates can achieve. Don't provide unrealistic milestones.
- Document the process of how you came to creating the roadmap.
- ABU. Always Be Updating (your team members and stakeholders). Don't let people work with old info.
- Don't surprise stakeholders during a presentation. They should have been up to speed before you present your roadmap.
- Talk about details with (for example) the engineering team, so that you can better schedule feature releases.
- Do you know what is essential for the stakeholders? I.e., what you need to prioritize?
- Watch out for big clients swaying feature priorities!
- Don't write too much. Only the minimum needed to transfer the message.
- Don't try to predict the details of everything in the product roadmap. Only go into super detail for the first 10% - 20% of the roadmap.
- Be honest. Don't say things that you're unsure of.
- Use good tools for both creating and presenting your roadmap.
- Do your best storytelling in all communication.
- Add both short-term and long-term goals in the roadmap. It keeps a steady cadence of wins.
- Technical (and security) debt is real. Do make time for it in the roadmap.
- When presenting your roadmap, make clear what the intention and goal of the presentation are.
- When creating your roadmap, take into account who is consuming the document(s). Executives likely need a different view than a Scrum team.
- Build your roadmap based on objective findings, not your gut feeling.
- Present your roadmap with confidence, verbally, non-verbally, written. Any way you can.
- Make sure you talked to all relevant stakeholders before finalizing your roadmap.
Bonus - Product Roadmap Software list
As an added bonus I'd thought of listing some product roadmap tools. Some specifically meant for roadmaps, others that you can bend to the use-case somewhat (which are mostly free).
(Oh, and no, these are not affiliate links.)
In no particular order:
- Product plan
- Google Sheets
I hope you found this helpful in your product management work, your startup, or your content business. And yes, maybe not all checklist points are applicable, but do think about each for a moment.
If you have any additions (or think the list needs pruning), please do let me know!
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