Why do we need a Product Roadmap?
Product management is a fascinating domain, and it has grown with is evident from the exponential growth in the number of product practitioners and organizations leveraging product managers. At the same time professionals with diverse experiences and backgrounds, are embracing Product Management skills.
The reason for the same is not only the greener pasture the role offers, but also the challenges and opportunities the role bring. The biggest challenge is that the role and KPIs of product managers are different in different organizations. But having said that one responsibility that invariably lies with product managers across organizations is to build the Product Roadmap. Why “Product Roadmap” is such an important activity that is part of the responsibilities of all product managers.
What is a Product Roadmap
As per definition, “Product Roadmap is the long term product development plan, which provides all product stakeholders information for doing their planning activities.”
Thus the goal of the Product roadmap is to provide information to Product Stakeholders. These stakeholders may include product sponsors, business leadership, sales leadership, marketing leadership, or board members. All these leaders have interested in being aware of the status of product development so that they can plan their activities to achieve strategic business objectives.
Why there is need of a Product Roadmap
The primary objective of the product roadmap is to achieve alignment among product stakeholders, and the roadmap is just a reference to the alignment agreed among them. Thus on the one hand product roadmap provides a long-term product development plan, and on the other hand, it provides a baseline on which all the business planning can be done.
Product Roadmap vs product backlog
But is the product roadmap the same as the product backlog? Backlog also includes development activities and line items for products but the difference between them is the focus of the two. While backlog includes change request, bugs, and features identified to be built in the near term; the focus of the product roadmap is long-term product direction and vision.
The roadmap is developed to enable product strategy. This essentially boils down to how the product will enable the achievement of business objectives or goals. Hence the roadmap is a forward-looking document, that defines the development plan for achieving the business goals through the product. Thus roadmap takes into account the long-term view of the product and focuses on key milestones.
While for a product-led business defining the roadmap is important, it is not an end in itself. The roadmap brings all stakeholders in alignment and ensures that all the efforts in organizations can now be coordinated to achieve the key business goals. Thus it’s a good foundation on top of which a strong product-led strategy can be built.