One of the most important skills a great product manager should have is the ability to communicate the story behind their product roadmap. Even more important, they should be able to know when and how to shift the perspective of the story depending on which stakeholders they share it with. For example, customers want to know the progress of the features they request, while c-suite execs want to know how the features you’re building help achieve the business goals.
Depending on how the roadmap is visualized, and what information is shared, you can tell your story in a variety of different ways that will have varying appeal to different stakeholders. So, how can you be sure to choose the right roadmap format for the right audience?
In this post, we’ll share five different product roadmap formats you can create on-demand in Dragonboat to update your various stakeholders. And don’t feel like you have to pick just one! You might find you like to add work in one format and visualize it for stakeholders in another. That’s the beauty of having a 3-D roadmap!
5 Product Roadmap Formats and When to Use Them
1. Kanban Board Product Roadmap
We recommend starting out by creating a kanban or Trello board-style roadmap for your day-to-day roadmapping activities.
While this is a great format for sharing your roadmap with anyone, you may find it best for personal use and to manage your roadmap.
When you create this type of product roadmap format in Dragonboat, you can easily:
- Plan with drag and drop editing
- Display data by various groupings (e.g. group by timeframe/quarter or goal), then add, drag and drop, and prioritize ideas or initiatives within each column
- Roll up effort to see the estimated allocation for your selected grouping
- Apply filters to only show relevant values
How to Set It Up
You can create your kanban board in Dragonboat in 3 simple steps:
- Define your strategic drivers/portfolio dimensions – Consider the different product areas, goals, themes, timeframes, etc. that you should keep in mind as you plan your roadmap. These represent your strategic drivers or portfolio dimensions, as they’re called in Dragonboat.
- Add epics and initiatives to plan for a longer horizon – While brainstorming, add your ideas/ epics and initiatives (this is the term we use for big ideas, programs, or in SAFe, EPICs). Group or align each initiative to its related goals and other strategic drivers.
- Assess and prioritize at the idea and/or initiative level in various dimensions such as by objective, category, theme, focus, etc.
Now, you have a wonderful kanban board roadmap that easily presents your plan:
2. Slide Deck/Executive Summary Product Roadmap
Does it ever feel like 50% of your time is devoted to building PowerPoint presentations? It doesn’t have to be! In Dragonboat, you can automatically visualize your roadmap as a slide or executive summary.
A versatile format, you can use it in edit mode for your own planning purposes as a product manager or for presenting ever-green slide decks to any stakeholder.
- Choose any information you want to share, it’s 100% customizable
- No need to build and update slide decks manually
- Save views that tailor your roadmap story for your audience so you can easily come back to them later
How to Set It Up
Choose the data you want to have in the columns and rows, select the portfolio level, and group within each cell to communicate information concisely and tweak the information for stakeholders with different needs.
The summary format includes an edit mode for planning as well as a share mode which is what your stakeholders will see. Saved views can be shared via email, Slack, Confluence or direct links to read-only users.
Editing is as easy as simply dragging and dropping between areas.
Let’s look at some more examples of product roadmaps in the slide deck summary format:
Product Roadmap Slide for Customer-Facing Teams
Show customers in the rows and quarters in the columns to indicate when you plan to build features requested by various customers.
This is a great product roadmap format to share with your sales and CSM team so they always have a real-time snapshot of the roadmap and can update customers as needed.
Product Roadmap Slide for an All-Hands Meeting
Let’s say you’re a Head of Product and want to show what all of your teams are doing to help the company reach its goals. Use the slide deck roadmap format to show teams (in the rows) by goal (in the columns) and display all of the corresponding items at the initiative level.
If you’re looking at it just with the product team, you can choose to display epics/features instead.
Product Roadmap Slide for Executive Updates
To keep everyone aligned and to provide visibility, a Quarter by Teams summary is helpful like the one below:
3. Swimlane Product Roadmap
A swimlane roadmap is essentially your roadmap presented as a timeline. Similar to the rest of the formats in Dragonboat, you can group your roadmaps in any of the portfolio dimensions to tell the right stories for the right audiences.
Executives will be pleased to see your roadmap in this compact timeline. You might also want to use it for your own planning purposes because it’s easy to move things around and see how different items line up without needing to have the exact dates in mind.
- Visualize and manage dependencies
- Easily plan things without needing to know the exact timeframe/dates
- Show a lot of detail in a compact timeline
How to Set It Up
Choose how portfolio dimensions are grouped into lanes, customize colors to tell the right story, and drag and drop between lanes to edit/adjust your timeline.
Let’s take a look at some common swimlane roadmap views that product managers put together in Dragonboat:
Initiatives Each Product Team is Working On To Achieve Goals
Initiatives and Epics an Individual Product Team Is Working On To Achieve Goals
4. Gantt Chart Product Roadmap
Gantt charts are often used for showing activities displayed against time and are a part of every program manager’s toolbelt. This product roadmap format in Dragonboat has a story mode that makes tracking progress and roll-up easier, along with real-time updates.
This product roadmap format is ideal for sharing with program managers (PMOs) who can help with the planning, execution, and reporting side of things. It also makes it a breeze to manage dependencies, which is even more helpful for them.
- Display multiple levels and groupings
- Edit in a cell just like you would in a spreadsheet
- Enjoy real-time updates with Jira/ Agile tools for the mapped fields
Dragonboat automatically pulls stories and tasks from Agile tools (Jira, Clubhouse, Github):
5. Spreadsheet List-Style Product Roadmap
Creating your product roadmap as a list is a highly flexible option. If you’ve used spreadsheets to manage your product roadmap, you can think of this as the new and improved version!
In Dragonboat, this is the ideal format for organizing your product with a combination of multiple perspectives:
- By scope (aka hierarchy): Epics may be part of an initiative (bigger, multi-epic/ team endeavor), which may be part of a bet (if your company has multi-year items)
- By dimensions (OKR, roadmap, timeframe/quarter)
- By planning stage
This product roadmap format is especially ideal for sharing with your product operations colleagues, as they’ll likely prefer to have a lot of data on one page. Since this roadmap format displays many fields, it could be used for going through all of your initiatives in a status meeting.
- Flexible and customizable for your unique needs
- Can be used for both planning and sharing with various audiences
- Back up your decisions in ‘score view’ where you can add comments for each score field to provide context on scores
Let’s look at some examples of what you can make in list view:
Roadmap Status Report in List View
Dragonboat has multiple product prioritization frameworks baked in to best suit your needs.
A great product manager is a masterful storyteller. It’s important to have the right information and tools to stay organized so you can present it in a clear and compelling way, without all the hassle.
What is your favorite product roadmap format? Let us know on Twitter!