Quick start guide: Roadmaps

These four steps will help you set up clear and tailored roadmaps. If you've got room for more holistic training, we recommend visiting Productboard Academy instead of reading this guide, but if you're strapped for time, you're in the right place!

Each section below outlines key concepts and contains links to other articles in case you need more details. The guide assumes you know what Productboard is and have an understanding of how navigation, board creation, and data structures work.

In this article:

Introduction: Roadmaps

In Productboard, a roadmap is a type of board specialized for communicating plans to internal audiences. Hierarchy items are rendered as cards on roadmaps. The data you see on roadmaps are the same data you see on feature boards, so changing data in one place will change it in the other. It's usually better to edit and organize your data on feature boards and use roadmaps for visualization and alignment. 

Note: Roadmaps aren't designed for external communication, but portals are. See Use the Portal to share your plans and collect feedback at scale for details.

Common roadmap elements

The header at the top of a roadmap contains several toolsets you'll see across roadmap types.

  • Items (A): Options for toggling entities on the roadmap, like subfeatures.
  • Columns (B): Choose which releases or statuses to display on column-based roadmaps. 
  • Grouped by (C): Swimlaning and item nesting options.
  • Filter (D): Restrict item visibility based on data values.
  • Configure (E): Toggle data visibility on each item's card, like effort, owner, or dependencies. 
Note: The presence and contents of each toolset may change depending on the roadmap's type and your Productboard plan level. For example, timeline roadmaps don't have column tools. 

Step 1: Discover your audience's needs

A roadmap built for your executives won't be very useful for your engineering team, and vice versa. If you try to build a roadmap to satisfy everyone, it won't satisfy anyone. There are two questions you should ask yourself before building a roadmap:

  1. Who is this roadmap built for? It should be for a specific group of people. Product Team A, Sales, GTM, Executives—whatever, as long as the group's expectations are roughly uniform. 
  2. What will they want to learn from it? Learn what they want by asking them. It's always best to check with the audience before and after you give them a roadmap to make sure it's actually useful. 

Step 2: Choose the appropriate roadmap type

There are eight roadmap options split into two categories. Some options are better for certain audiences than others. Also, some are functionally identical to each other, and are only presented separately to give you ideas about how to use them. 

Column roadmaps

Release-based (A): Release plan, sprint plan, and now-next-later roadmaps are all identical. They use the Release data type to group items together. When you create a release-based roadmap, you must choose which releases to use as columns. You can then add features to a release using the PlusCircle-1.svg plus button at the bottom of the column. You can create new releases from the Data section in the main menu.

Status-based (B): Kanban roadmaps use feature statuses for their columns. When you create a status-based roadmap, you can choose which statuses, if any, to omit. You can click and drag items between columns to change their statuses. 

Timeline roadmaps

Basic timeline (C): Feature timeline and feature launch roadmaps are identical. They let you visualize features based on the Timeframe data type. You can add features to these roadmaps with the PlusCircle-1.svg blue plus button, or by setting a feature's timeframe in its details panel or from the timeframe column on a features board (Add columns > Default fields)

Nested timeline (D): These two roadmaps aren't quite identical but they work similarly—they group features on a timeline by release or objective and let you collapse or expand those nested groups. Click the PlusCircle-1.svg blue plus button to add releases or objectives. Hover over a release or objective to PlusCircle-1.svg Add features to it. You can create new releases and objectives from the Data section.

See Choose the right roadmap for your audience for details.

Step 3: Configure the roadmap

Once you've chosen your roadmap type, it's just a matter of tweaking the board's settings to fit the needs of the audience that you determined in Step 1. Below you'll find examples of roadmaps built for four different audiences, followed by definitions for the most important configuration options. 

Product team pipeline
Engineering and delivery
Executive Leadership
Go-to-market

Definitions: Configure menu

The Configure menu contains lots of options. The more important ones are defined here to help you model the examples above. Changing an option will never change the data of your roadmap items, but it may change how they display. Some options aren't available on certain roadmap types or plans. 

Timeline visualization
Adjusts the fidelity of the timeline between weeks, months, and years. 
Time horizons
Rounds the timeframes of your roadmap items to conform to your chosen timeline visualization fidelity. For example, if your timeline is set to monthly, all items will display as month-long blocks.

See How to add time horizons to your roadmap for details. 
Feature and subfeature visualizations
You'll see three settings across these two options. Flat list means those items' timeframes will appear to match their parents' timeframes. Duration means those items will display their own timeframes. End date means those items will appear as single blocks conforming to the last week, month, or quarter of their timeframes.
People
Display the owner, teams, or custom member fields associated with this item. An item can have multiple teams but only one owner. Set this data from each item's details panel or from features board columns (Add columns > Default fields or Custom fields).  You can create custom member fields from the Data section.

See Owning entities in Productboard, Enable advanced team collaboration, and Add custom fields to your boards for details.
Labels
Display the item's tags or values from a specific custom field. You can create custom fields from the Data section.

See How do tags work in Productboard? and Add custom fields to your boards for details.
Effort
Display the item's effort field, which usually represents story points, work weeks, or person hours. Set this data from each item's details panel or from features board columns (Add columns > Default fields).

See How does the Effort Field work? for details. 
Objectives
Display any objectives associated with this item. Objectives usually represent strategic company goals or OKRs. Set this data from each item's details panel or from features board columns (Add columns > Objectives). You can create objectives from the Data section.

See Prioritize around clear objectives for details. 
User Impact Score
If you are collecting feedback and linking it to features from an insights board, this will show each item's aggregate score.

See Link user feedback to related feature ideas using insights or Quick start guide: Feedback for details. 
Health
Display whether the current item is on track, at risk, or off track. This is a manually-updated field that lets PMs keep folks updated on how features are progressing at a glance.

See Providing health updates for your features for details.
Comments
Toggles whether roadmap visitors can click on little speech bubbles to leave comments on roadmap items. Even if toggled off, visitors can still leave comments by clicking on the item and scrolling through its details panel until they reach the comments section.
Dependencies visualization
Toggle Enable dependencies to display a clickable icon on each item which displays anything blocking or blocked by this item. Toggle Display lines to visualize connections between items that appear on the roadmap. 
Progress
Feature progress displays a thin blue bar at the top of each item, while Objective progress color-codes objectives slightly differently based on progress. "Progress" is defined as the percentage of direct children with statuses that are considered complete. Admins can adjust which statuses are considered complete by marking them as such from the status customization section (Main menu > Settings).
Objective visualization
Allows you to change whether objectives should be color-coded based on objective status or theme, and to visualize any teams assigned to objectives as badges on the objective card. 

See How to color code your objectives by theme for details. 
Note: In the swimlane options, the Customizeable and Custom fields options are different. The former allows you to manually create swimlanes that appear on this roadmap only, while the latter are data fields that can be configured from the Data section and reused across many roadmaps and feature boards. 

Step 4: Share the roadmap

Once you're satisfied with your roadmap, make sure its intended audience can access it. There are two aspects to this: location and sharing options. 

Location

The roadmap should live where its intended audience can find it easily. That means placing it in the appropriate teamspace or folder—don't put your executive roadmap in your GTM teamspace, and certainly don't keep it hidden away in your Private section. 

See Best practices for teamspaces for details. 

Sharing options

Each roadmap has its own individual sharing options that control who can see the board. These options take precedence over location; if a roadmap isn't shared with you, you won't be able to see it, even if you're a member of the teamspace where it lives. 

See Fundamentals of Productboard for details. 

Note: The Share publicly option generates a URL which lets you share or embed a roadmap without granting the visitor access to your workspace. This is useful for syncing your roadmap to an intranet page, but not recommended for sharing with external parties (that's what portals are for). 

See also

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