Guide: Choose the right roadmap for your audience

Jana Jiraskova
Written by Jana Jiraskova
Updated

Building your first roadmap can be intimidating if you don't know where to begin. We created this guide to provide new and experienced product managers with templates for common scenarios. We've also shared a few modifications, based on which Productboard plan your organization is on.

As you review these roadmap templates, remember the most important rule: tailor your roadmap to your audience. You can create as many roadmaps in Productboard as you need, so don't be afraid to customize each one to your audience as needed.

In this guide:

  1. Leadership roadmaps
  2. Company roadmaps
  3. Delivery focused roadmaps
  4. Customer focused roadmaps

Leadership roadmaps

Leadership roadmaps give a 1000-foot view of the product team's work. These high-level roadmaps provide quick summaries of your product direction, with the ability to dive in deeper if needed.

 

Recommendation for any plan

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Roadmap type: Release plan roadmap

  • Group by: Hierarchy (or none, if preferred)
  • Feature visualization: None - we recommend keeping things simple
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

This roadmap helps you convey a high-level overview of your upcoming releases. Organizing by hierarchy gives your roadmap structure and polish. Each product will have its own swimlane, automatically offering leadership a "portfolio" view. Most companies start by creating quarterly release groups, but you should check with your stakeholders to see what they expect. If certain features aren't relevant to leadership, hide them from this specific roadmap.

 

Scale and Enterprise plan recommendation

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Roadmap type: Release plan roadmap

  • Group by: Objectives
  • Feature visualization: None - we recommend keeping things simple
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

This roadmap helps you transition from an output-focused roadmap to an outcome-focused roadmap. Leadership can see at a glance: what features are we working on each quarter, and why are we building them? Group by objective to connect your product team's work to your organization's business goals. Hide features that aren't applicable to leadership from this specific roadmap.

 

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Roadmap type: High-level objective  roadmap

  • Group by: None - we recommend keeping things simple
  • Feature visualization: None - we recommend keeping things simple
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off
  • Timeline settings: Time horizons turned on, set to Quarterly

If your leadership team wants a more zoomed-out approach, or if they're tracking progress towards specific deadlines or milestones, use a High-level objective roadmap. This simplified roadmap says: "Here's when we'll be working towards each of our business goals, and where that sits relative to our biggest milestones." You can choose to collapse or expand the individual features within an objective, allowing your audience to keep things simple or dive deeper. Hide features that aren't applicable to leadership from this specific roadmap.

 

Company roadmaps

While leadership usually prefers a high-level overview of your team's work, chances are other cross-functional teams, like Sales and Customer Success, need more details to share with prospects and customers. The right roadmap allows other teams to set appropriate expectations with prospects and customers, and contribute comments and relevant customer feedback - without committing your team to specific deadlines.

 

Recommendations for any plan

anyplan.png
Roadmap type: Release plan roadmap

  • Configuration: Hierarchy (or none, if preferred)
  • Feature visualization: Owner
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

If you're releasing features on a broad, regular cadence, continue using a Release plan roadmap. This plan gives other teams an idea of which features are coming soon, without committing your team to a specific launch date. Grouping by hierarchy gives your roadmap structure and polish. Make owners visible so other teams can follow up with the appropriate product manager with any questions. Remember: if your team isn't prepared to show progress on a specific feature to a cross-functional team, you can hide that specific feature from your roadmap.

 

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Roadmap type: Release timeline roadmap

  • Swimlanes: None
  • Timeline settings: Time horizons turned on, set to quarterly or monthly
  • Feature visualization: Owner, Timeframes on, set to end date
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

Your organization might have releases that don't correspond to any particular unit of time, e.g. "Long term release" or "Version 10.4". While your team isn't necessarily responsible for shipping a release within a specific timeframe, other colleagues still want to know when you'll be working on these releases. A Release timeline roadmap allows you to keep using your specific release objects, while also conveying a time horizon. We recommend using end date time horizons to eliminate confusion for your customer-facing teams.

Add any important milestones or company deadlines. Make owners visible so cross-functional teams can follow up with the appropriate product manager with questions about a specific feature. Remember: if your team isn't prepared to show progress on a specific feature to a cross-functional team, you can hide that specific feature from your roadmap.

 

Scale and Enterprise plan recommendation

release_timel.png

Roadmap type: Release plan roadmap

  • Group by: Objectives
  • Feature visualization: Owner
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

The same outcome-focused release roadmap which tells the story of your product strategy to leadership will also serve a cross-functional audience. Grouping your features by objectives is particularly helpful for Sales and Customer Success: they'll understand where your product is headed, and why you prioritized certain features over others - and they'll be able to convey this vision to prospects and customers. Make owners visible so cross-functional teams can follow up with the appropriate product manager with questions about a specific feature.

Remember: while this roadmap has the same layout as the one we recommended for leadership, this is still a different audience! Make a separate roadmap, and selectively hide any features or objectives which you don't want to share with other teams.


release_plan_roadm.png

Roadmap type: Release timeline roadmap

  • Swimlanes: Custom - create a swimlane for each release group
  • Timeline settings: Time horizons turned on, set to monthly or quarterly
  • Feature visualization: Owner, Timeframes on, set to end date
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

When larger product organizations with different teams release features on different cadences, it's often confusing for other cross-functional teams. Productboard Scale and Enterprise users can create multiple release groups to organize these different cadences. A Releases timeline roadmap allows everyone to what's slated for the next app version, quarterly release, monthly bug fix, etc. Keep your columns collapsed - viewers and contributors can expand on their own, if they want to explore. Make owners visible so cross-functional teams can follow up with the appropriate product manager with questions about a specific feature. We recommend using end date time horizons to eliminate confusion for your customer-facing teams.

 

Delivery focused roadmaps

You've created high-level roadmaps for leadership and broad roadmaps for your colleagues, but when it comes to your own team, it's time to get granular. These roadmaps help you track features as they progress through the delivery pipeline, and plan out when you'll be working on specific features.

 

Recommendations for all plans

delivery1.gif

Roadmap type: Kanban roadmap

  • Group by: None
  • Feature visualization: Owner, Effort
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled on if desired

Use a Kanban roadmap to track features through the delivery process - but take advantage of Productboard's filters to zero in on what's most relevant. Most product teams bring up this roadmap during team meetings, and apply different filters over the course of the meeting to highlight the feature cohort being discussed. In the GIF above, see how to filter a Kanban roadmap by owner - so a product manager can see only their own responsibilities.

delibvery_2.gif
Another common use of filters is to double-check feature status in your delivery tools - are you blocked? Filter by Tasks to see any delivery tool integrations you've configured, and select the statuses you care about most.

 

kanba.png

Roadmap type: Features timeline roadmap

  • Feature visualization: Owner, Effort if desired - this is your roadmap!
  • Timeline settings: Time horizons turned off
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled on, subfeatures toggled on if desired

Want to get really granular? A Features timeline roadmap allows you to set the timeframe of an individual feature. This is especially helpful if you're using your release group to express a cadence (e.g. the quarterly release groups we've suggested above) but you still want to plot out exactly when a feature will be built. Any feature with an assigned timeframe will populate on this roadmap automatically; use filters to narrow down what's visible.

Note: While Features timeline roadmaps are popular, they should be used with caution! Often, feature timeline roadmaps get too far into the weeds or overcommit your team to specific deadlines. Keep these for your eyes only!

 

Recommendations for Scale and Enterprise plans

features_timeline.png

Roadmap type: Kanban roadmap

  • Group by: Objectives
  • Feature visualization: None
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled on if desired

Keep your delivery team motivated and inspired by reminding them what they're building towards. Grouping your Kanban board by objectives reminds product managers how their work contributes to larger business goals, and helps them tell the story of what they build.

 

Customer focused roadmaps

Preparing for a meeting with investors, or trying to close a deal or a renewal with a key customer account? It's easy to customize a roadmap which zeroes in on features they care about most. Productboard Insights link customer feedback to specific feature ideas, allowing you to track exactly which customers asked for a feature and how important their need is.

 

Recommendations for all plans

custome.png

Roadmap type: Release plan roadmap

  • Filter by: Company
  • Group by: None
  • Feature visualization: None
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

Using your quarterly releases roadmap, filter by Company to narrow down the scope to their feature requests. You can filter further by degree of importance, or by the recency of their request:

 

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Remember, you might want to hide certain features from this specific roadmap.

 

Recommendations for Scale and Enterprise plans

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Roadmap type: Now-next-later roadmap 

  • Group by: None
  • Feature visualization: None
  • Roadmap settings: Hidden features toggled off, subfeatures toggled off

If you have a Scale or Enterprise plan with multiple release groups, you can create a customer-facing roadmap which doesn't convey a specific time horizon. Even if you communicate internally using time-bound release objects (e.g. quarters), you can create an additional release group with releases like "Now" "Next" and "Later". Features can be assigned to multiple release groups at a time.

 

Need any help setting up your first roadmap? Don't hesitate to reach out to our Support team!

 

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