RSVP FOR FREE | How Carpe Data Supercharges Roadmap Planning to Deliver Outcomes | Oct 3 @ 9 AM PT


10 Common Roadmap Templates For Your Unique Communication Needs

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.

  1. Lean Roadmap
  2. Strategy Roadmap
  3. Outcome-Based Roadmap
  4. Release Roadmap
  5. Quarterly Roadmap
  6. Theme-Based Roadmap
  7. Team Roadmap
  8. Technology Roadmap
  9. Transformation Roadmap
  10. 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. 

Strategic Roadmap Template - Netflix style

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:

  1. Assess the key challenges that need to be solved with your strategic vision.
  2. Set objectives that need to be achieved to solve these challenges
  3. 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).
  4. Define initiatives to determine how these actions will be grouped for execution.
  5. 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.

Outcome focused quarterly roadmap template Netflix style

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. 

Check out our Step-by-Step Guide for Performing Quarterly Planning with Dragonboat.

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.

Why Dragonboat CTA

The 3 Hierarchies of Needs of An Outcome Focused Product Organization

To deliver the outcomes expected by customers and business, every product organization has to be able to

  • Build roadmaps
  • Manage portfolios
  • Deliver outcomes 

While every product team fulfills these 3 needs to varying degrees, mastering all of 3 is essential to become fully outcome-focused. It takes a journey, like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, each step of the way relies on having some the one before it in place. 

Under the leadership of Chief Product Officer (CPO), who champions a portfolio management approach, product teams can elevate their skill levels across all these needs and accelerate the overall portfolio outcomes.

In this post, we’ll break down the pyramid and outline how teams progress in each of these 3 needs and become  an expert in delivering outcomes. Let’s get started.

Need #1 – Building Roadmaps

Roadmap is a way to communicate product plans and the reasons behind them. Every product team, every product manager, or in fact, every person, may have one or multiple flavors of roadmaps. (Check out the 10 most popular roadmap templates for every Product Manager)

What does it take to build an effective roadmap? Here are the key elements for 3 levels of expertises. 

As you may see above, there are more to building an effective roadmap than just some pretty visualizations. Here is a summary of 3 levels of maturity on building roadmaps. 

  • The starter roadmap building includes visualize roadmaps and share with stakeholders.  
  • More advanced roadmapping involves collecting customer and market feedback or insights, and Integrating  roadmap data with engineering tools such as Jira, Azure Dev Ops (ADO), Shortcut, Github issues, etc. to connect strategies with delivery. 
  • The expert roadmap builders incorporate a data driven approach to prioritize features and ideas, and analyze insights gleaned from customer and market feedback to form and adjust product strategies that inform the roadmap. 

If your teams are stuck using spreadsheets or PPT slides, they can quickly become outdated the minute they’re created. A tool like Dragonboat helps thousands of teams build product roadmaps. Dragonboat helps you to create various formats of roadmaps that communicate to various stakeholders with a tailored story. 

Everything listed here  stems from a foundation of product portfolio management (PPM). Learning about and taking a mindset of PPM (as opposed to traditional product management) will lay the foundation you need to progress to the next level.

Need #2 – Managing Portfolios 

You may think only very large companies with multiple products require portfolio management, you’d be surprised. 

Even small product teams need to adopt a portfolio mindset and apply allocation and trade off in product decisions.

Wyatt Jekins, SVP of Product, Procore

Similar to the 1st need (building roadmaps), the 2nd need – managing portfolios, may also be practiced at 3 levels. 

  • For starters, portfolio management involves having various levels of portfolio items, such as initiatives and features, or having multiple teams or even portfolio of goals (aka multi-dimensional portfolio, a concept of Responsive Product Portfolio Management)
  • More advanced portfolio management involves aligning strategies and product/ resource allocation so that strategies are effectively supported. Another key element of effective portfolio management is to create and operate an effective portfolio workflow and cadences (aka portfolio rhythms) which ties longer term goals and near term execution together. 
  • The expert portfolio managers practice effective scenario analysis on various roadmap and product allocation and timing may affect the outcome of their product organization. And they also play close attention on plan vs target both in terms of roadmap progress, and investment spent. 

As you can see managing a portfolio requires much more data points, with broader scope, and more complex and frequent analysis..Most companies rely on a spreadsheet guru to run it, or sadly sometimes they simply don’t do it for lack of the tooling.  

In addition to centralizing user feedback and internal requests, product teams taking a portfolio approach start to do the following during the pro phase of their maturity: 

  • Integrate roadmap data with engineering tools for 2-way dynamic sync with Jira or other dev tools
  • Visualize strategies and dependencies
  • Automatically connect the dots and track all the moving pieces for real-time portfolio planning and allocation
  • Provide estimates and plan across multiple portfolio levels

With the above in place, you are well on your way to: 

  • Deliver your roadmap commitments
  • Close the loop by automating the right updates to the right audience
  • Connect metrics and goals, bringing visibility to the entire organization

This is why an effective CPO and effective product organization adopts a portfolio management too like Dragonboat. Understanding the importance of aligning all teams to focus on outcomes and putting that belief into action is the difference between a pro and starter product team.

Need #3 – Deliver Outcomes

Knowingly or not, every product organization needs to deliver outcomes. Feature focused companies leave the responsibility of delivering outcome solely to the executives, which results in either be hit or miss goals, or ad hoc micro management.   

Shifting your organization from feature-based roadmapping to outcome-based may take 3 levels of organizational maturity 

  • At the most basically level, product teams connect features with goals and build outcome based roadmaps (aka goal swim lane)
  • As the teams become more versed in outcome focused practice, product teams engage collaboratively with the engineering and other delivery teams to ensure effective planning and ability to deliver roadmap commitments. Delivering commitment is essential not just to check dates, it’s essential because the rest of the company often relies on product delivery to market the right product at the right time, align the timeline and customer promise by sales teams and customer success teams. 
  • The expert in delivering outcome requires the ability to connect metrics and goals, and responsively adjust product investment allocation and prioritization framework based on changes. 

Side bar

Need to normalize the prioritization framework across multiple teams and roadmaps? Check out the MoAR model, which stands for Metrics over Available Resources. This is a unique framework for responsive product portfolio management, and it replaces the traditional ROI model. 

MoAR = Benefit towards Goals / Effort

When you prioritize your roadmap with MoAR, you can directly map to company goals and strategies while accounting for urgent resourcing needs.

The MoAR model is one of several built-in frameworks within Dragonboat.

Putting It All Together: Summary

As you can see, every product organization has 3 essential needs – building roadmaps, managing portfolios and delivering outcomes. In each of these needs there is room for improvements from starter to pro to expert. 

Where is your product team at in this journey? Take a quick self test here. 

Interested to learn how to advance your outcome focused product practice? Hear more from Chief Product Officers of market-leading companies like Shopify, Pendo, and Procore in our CPO Series webinars

how to make the switch from feature roadmapping cta

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us to improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used. For more information, please check our Privacy Policy. You can disable or remove cookies in your browser settings at any time. By clicking "Accept" or continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies across the site.