Product roadmaps are essential in communicating product plans and the reasons behind these decisions. They enable visibility and alignment, critical in product-led, outcome-focused organizations. As product managers have many stakeholders each with varied needs, they need to create different roadmap formats to tell the right story for the right audience. For example, customers may want to see the progress of requested features, while executive teams might want to know how these features help to achieve business goals.
At Dragonboat we work with thousands of teams. Here are the 10 popular and effective roadmap templates we’ve come across. In this post, we’ll share details about ten common roadmap formats and when to use them. You can create all of these roadmap formats in Dragonboat with real-time data.
- Lean Roadmap
- Strategy Roadmap
- Outcome-Based Roadmap
- Release Roadmap
- Quarterly Roadmap
- Theme-Based Roadmap
- Team Roadmap
- Technology Roadmap
- Transformation Roadmap
- Milestone Roadmap
1 – Lean Roadmap
What is a lean roadmap?
A lean roadmap, sometimes called a “fuzzy timeline”, provides an overview of what problems can and should be solved in order to work towards your product vision and reach business goals without being an exact outline of what’s going to be delivered and when.
The Now-Next-Later Lean Roadmap template focuses on time horizons over timelines by using three buckets to communicate and align teams on the upcoming challenges, opportunities, and issues:
- Now: Initiatives and ideas in the Now Bucket are currently being worked on and are the most defined in terms of details and scope, and are often already being executed by teams.
- Next: Initiatives and ideas in the Next Bucket are the ones you’re getting ready for your team to work on, and often in the discovery or planning phase.
- Later: Initiatives and ideas in the Later Bucket are further down the horizon without clearly defined details. These are often assumptions of problems you foresee but are not yet ready to be moved to planning.
When to use a lean roadmap?
Product teams can use various lean roadmap formats like Now-Next-Later or expanded like this month, this quarter, this year, or in the future to organize initiatives that best drive product outcomes.
You can also use this roadmap format to communicate your priorities over broad timeframes. It’s a great choice for teams that need to provide an overview of what’s on the horizon, but need flexibility for changing release dates.
2- Strategy Roadmap
What is a strategy roadmap?
A strategy roadmap serves as the link between strategy and execution. This roadmap format visualizes and communicates the key initiatives and plans within a particular timeframe to achieve your organization’s strategic vision.
When to use a strategy roadmap?
A strategy roadmap is used to help product teams prioritize initiatives, allocate resources, and track and manage dependencies to ensure that an organization is focused on solving the right challenges at the right time. A strategy roadmap is what ties day-to-day efforts to business strategy.
Below are some key steps to follow to ensure an effective strategy roadmap:
- Assess the key challenges that need to be solved with your strategic vision.
- Set objectives that need to be achieved to solve these challenges
- Evaluate your capabilities to understand what people and processes you need to have or invest in to meet the objective. (For example, if your objective is to increase sales bookings by 5% you may need sales and marketing resources. At this stage, product teams can also assess required capabilities against their current state to determine how much of a change is required to the capability to meet the objective).
- Define initiatives to determine how these actions will be grouped for execution.
- Build your roadmap to outline which initiatives will be delivered and in what order.
3- Outcome-Based Roadmap
What is an outcome-based roadmap?
An outcome-based roadmap gives context to roadmap items and their prioritization. This type of roadmapping approach focuses not only on the “what” (outputs) but also the “why” (outcomes). It empowers teams to align toward top-level objectives typically set by an organization in annual or quarterly planning sessions.
When to use an outcome-based roadmap?
An outcome-based roadmap is used by product teams to connect product initiatives and features with product or business goals. This helps product teams focus on delivering products customers love while also driving business outcomes. This type of roadmap is used to align teams with a focus on the end goal instead of specific deliverables to ensure objectives are achieved.
Check out our Step-by-Step guide for Outcome-Focused Roadmapping for more detail.
4- Release (Rollup) Roadmap
What is a release roadmap?
A release roadmap organizes your roadmap via releases to plan and visualize which features will be grouped into which release. It provides an overview of what improvements, features, and fixes will be included in the upcoming release cycle. Release roadmaps can span a few months, but can also be broken down into shorter 2-week sprints.
Release roadmaps are used by product teams to plan feature and product releases across upcoming time horizons and prioritize each release based on impact, effort, and benefit. With a release roadmap, product teams can also easily view and manage timeliness and progress for all upcoming releases.
When to use a release roadmap?
A release roadmap is a great way to plan upcoming releases by linking features and stories in a sprint to show how each of these individual items relates back to the overarching objectives and provides an overview of the company’s strategic direction to engineering teams. In addition, it can be used as a tool to ensure alignment around upcoming releases across multiple departments including product, marketing, and sales.
5- Quarterly Roadmap
What is a quarterly roadmap?
Certain goals like retention and market expansion are almost always present in a business but can fluctuate depending on the time of year, business goals, and other external factors. Planning quarterly helps companies better align their product planning with the changing needs of the business, customers, and market.
Quarterly roadmaps allow teams to focus on the company’s specific needs at a specific time. This type of roadmap format helps structure product roadmaps over a longer term and highlights how they plan to execute within each quarter.
When to use a quarterly roadmap?
Product teams often perform quarterly or bi-monthly planning and build quarterly roadmaps to coordinate release plans and execution across teams. Quarterly roadmaps can be built by goals or by product areas, and typically start at the initiative level for cross-team alignment, and then break down to epic or lower during release planning.
6- Theme-Based Roadmap
What is a theme-based roadmap?
A theme-based roadmap is similar to the outcome-based or goal-focused roadmap approach but is more centered on the area of focus than the outcome. With this roadmap format, initiatives and ideas are sorted and prioritized into high-level strategic roadmap categories.
Themes are a way to group similar features, epics, or initiatives. An example of a customer-centric theme may be “improve user onboarding experience.” Once themes are defined, product teams create various epics and initiatives that correspond to those themes.
When to use a theme-based roadmap?
Theme-based roadmaps can be used to keep teams connected with the key business goals and help structure, plan, and prioritize work more effectively. Theme-based product roadmaps are used to break down major initiatives. Themes can be linked to goals and clearly display all associated ideas and initiatives to communicate and justify decisions and prioritization with internal and external stakeholders.
Below are some key steps to follow to ensure an effective theme-based roadmap:
- Define Themes: When setting themes, keep in mind that they should be goal-driven. At this stage, it can be helpful to get executive alignment on the goals to help ensure alignment on themes.
- Identify initiatives: Come up with the initiatives that will best address the overarching themes.
- Determine success metrics: Set metrics to determine what success looks like and make sure goals are measurable so you can iterate in the future.
- Collaborate: When setting themes it can be important to make them cross-functional to ensure alignment.
- Iterate– As with any good roadmap, your theme-based roadmap is never finished. Revisit your roadmap to reflect on any new learnings or changing priorities.
7- Team Roadmap
What is a team roadmap?
A team roadmap is a way to visualize the initiatives and epics specific to your teams such as product team, marketing, customer success, or sales. Within a team roadmap, there may also be sub-roadmaps. For example, a product team may also have sub-roadmaps to include each specific product team under that umbrella.
When to use a team roadmap?
A team roadmap can be used to gain better visibility on the progress of initiatives and epics specific to your team and also how those are contributing to overarching business objectives.
8- Technology Roadmap
What is a technology roadmap?
A technology roadmap communicates and visualizes at a high level an organization’s technology strategy. Two common types of technology roadmaps are internal IT roadmaps and software roadmaps. Technology roadmaps help internal teams make strategic decisions around their technical infrastructure.
When to use a technology roadmap?
A technology roadmap is often used to strategically plan any complex changes to an organization’s technological infrastructure and addresses things like technical debt. As an example, a technology roadmap may be used when a new system is being rolled out for employees and show when the previous system will be offboarded.
Depending on the type of technology roadmap you’re creating, below are a few steps that should be taken to ensure success:
- Identify strategic objectives to clearly articulate the “why” behind the proposed change.
- Understand your audience to ensure non-technical teams can easily understand your vision.
- Establish key initiatives to support this change.
- Align with teams to prioritize initiatives, estimate the impact and effort, and allocate resources to ensure successful delivery.
9- Transformation Roadmap
What is a transformation roadmap?
Digital transformation involves integrating technology across a business to achieve a competitive advantage. The process is often complex and can take months or even years to successfully complete and can include replacing existing traditional processes with digital solutions in response to the evolving business and market needs.
A digital transformation roadmap is a plan that moves your organization from Point A (using your current digital processes) to Point B (using new digital processes).
When to use a transformation roadmap
A transformation roadmap serves to break down the complex process into steps and outline those steps that the organization should follow to achieve business goals through the use of technology. A digital transformation roadmap is used to provide structure to the migration from one tool to the next — including everything from technology, people, and processes — to ensure a successful transformation.
Below are some key steps to follow to ensure a successful transformation roadmap:
- Define transformation OKRs
- Align teams with your vision plan
- Align initiatives with strategic factors and align features within those themes or initiatives
- Set metrics to measure success
- Assign resources to ensure viability and success
- As transformations often have longer time horizons, setting quarterly milestones can help ensure effective delivery
10- Milestone Roadmap
What is a milestone roadmap?
Roadmap milestones are events or deadlines represented by a single date. Product managers can add milestones to their roadmaps to share important dates and events with their team such as product releases, feature releases, or industry events.
When to use a milestone roadmap?
Setting milestones correctly in your roadmaps is an effective planning technique that can make your sprints and progress towards goals more effective. Milestones in Agile planning provide clear outcome-based goals to work towards and can be used to address the accuracy of a team’s priorities towards the goal.
Create, Save, and Share Your Roadmaps
The next step in building a successful product roadmap in any format is to share it with your audience. With all of these roadmap formats, you can easily share them directly from Dragonboat to keep teams aligned and stakeholders informed.
Ready to start creating roadmaps in Dragonboat? Follow along with our Step-by-Step Guide to Creating 10 Common Roadmap Formats with Real-time Data.