Product Roadmaps: Your GPS for Product Development

Ashish Agarwal
4 min readDec 27, 2022


Product Roadmap analogous to a train route [Copyrights Protected]

A product roadmap is a strategic list of projects that will be completed over the next 3 to 4 quarters. Some create with a visibility of 2–3 years. However, usually things change frequently, and many times business has a view of at most 3–4 quarters.

Roadmaps act as guiding compass of where the organisation will focus its efforts. They don’t have to be perfect to-date, but they should serve as a high-level guide to what’s coming next. The product owner (PO) or product manager (PM) lays out the projects on a time scale with a relative order of importance/impact.

Roadmap is just a visual representation of prioritised projects with rough estimate of duration and is not something that is set-in-stone with exact completion dates. It does not give a detailed breakdown of tasks involved as this information resides in a project gantt chart. It is important that all the stakeholders understand this.

In order to plot a project on timescale, 2 pieces of information is needed —

a) A wishlist item (i.e., a project)

b) Importance or impact of the project

An example skeleton of a product roadmap creation process [Copyrights protected]

How to create a Roadmap

A PO or PM conducts multiple rounds of discussions with different stakeholders to understand their needs and wants. These stakeholders could be external customers or internal teams (like engineering, support, etc.). After these discussions, a curated list of projects is synthesised and consulted with engineering to get high-level estimates.

A PO must decide the priority of the project based on its relative impact. There are numerous quantitative models to assess this, however MoSCoW Analysis and RICE Scoring model are the most common ones.

MoSCoW Analysis for Prioritisation [Copyrights Protected]
RICE scoring model [Copyrights Protected]

Sometimes teams arrange a workshop with post-its or mural board as collaborative means to arrive at the prioritisation.

Armed with the estimations and priority, POs map the projects on the timescale by quarter. The roadmap, thus prepared is vetted by stakeholders and business sponsorers.

In any case, a PO or PM must weigh the short-term vs long-term benefits while preparing the roadmap.

Product Roadmaps can be created in a trackable excel sheet or in sophisticated software like Aha, Azure DevOps (aka VSTS) or ProductPlan.

Roadmap items can come from 4 high-level buckets

  1. Customer Feedback
  2. New Ideas
  3. Market Research
  4. Technical Debt

Customer Feedback

Surveys, phone/email communication with customer, social network interaction (mostly applicable for B2C apps) and inputs from customer feedback software (like Usersnap) form a good source for roadmap items.

New Ideas

Hackathons, unknown problem areas, company’s vision/mission and CEO’s wish list are some of the sources that come under New Ideas.

Market Research

Product or feature fit tests, competitors’ product comparisons, and research data from professional market research companies like Nielsen are good sources for roadmap items.

Technical Debt

Many a times engineering cannot spend time on certain items owing to other high-priority items. Such things often go back to the product backlog. These backlog items can be added back to the roadmap based on their urgency and impact.

Pro-tip: Although roadmaps are not set in stone, its not encouraged to keep it changing every time. Changing it too frequently can have serious consequences for the organization.

Pro-tip: Many stakeholders are involved in creating the roadmap. However the ownership of keeping it up-to-date solely lies with a PO/PM.

Roadmaps can be extremely powerful means of communication when used effectively. It helps to align everyone in the organisation. It clarifies the vision, mission and priorities of the organization. It also helps engineering by offering them clarity and the opportunity to prepare ahead of time (if needed).

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