By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms
A product roadmap can be a powerful tool for your company. If you're not familiar with the term, a product roadmap is essentially a visual summary that maps out the vision and direction of your product or service over time and matches short- and long-term business goals with technology solutions.
An effective product roadmap will allow your entire organization to visually see and plan for the future of your product. You can create a product roadmap to showcase information including the releases of new versions or features of your product, maintenance and bug fixes and strategic plans.
But how do you build one that your team can understand and that works for your business? Below are some tips.
Find a good product roadmap tool.
The first step to an effective product roadmap is finding the right tool to build it. A visually easy-to-understand and organized product roadmap will make all the difference. You can use PowerPoint or a simple spreadsheet to build your roadmap. But if you want something a little more robust, there are some tools that will allow you to easily create a stunning, professional roadmap for your business.
Roadmap software programs like Aha!, ProductPlan and Roadmunk allow you to create visually appealing roadmaps across multiple different products and teams. You can also build individual roadmaps for different team members and then merge them all together for a complete view. Once you've decided on the best tool for your needs, you can start building.
Build based on goals.
Instead of basing your roadmap solely on what new features you want to add and by what date, build your product roadmap around the strategic goals you have for your business. Defining your goals will help you create an organized and streamlined roadmap that's easy to follow and helps your company to stay focused and grow.
Define your strategic goals for the product, otherwise known as themes, as well as key problems and solutions and your higher mission for the company. Examples of goals for your product and company could include increasing customer acquisition, increasing engagement or reducing customer churn. Once you have your major goals lined up on your roadmap, you can add your new features in to match your goals. But keep it simple. Don't bog down your roadmap with too many details that make it confusing. A clear, goal-based product roadmap will be most effective for your business.
Take customer requests into account.
Not only should you be including your team members and key shareholders in the building of your product roadmap, you need to be involving your customers as well. Building a product roadmap that takes into account feature requests and customer feedback is important to the growth of your business.
If customers aren't pleased with the quality of your product or the customer service they're receiving, then you risk failing. Talk to your customers and listen to their feedback, product feature ideas they're looking for and any complaints they might have and work them into your roadmap.
Share your roadmap.
People want to know what's coming up next. So consider sharing your roadmap with key stakeholders and even customers. Sharing your roadmap promotes communication and transparency within your company and with your customers. This lets others get involved and helps them stay up to date.
You can edit the view of your roadmap depending on who you're sharing it with in order to keep certain aspects private. Avoid including dates on roadmaps you share with your customers in order to avoid disappointing them in the case you miss or have to push back a deadline for a new feature.
Regularly review and adjust.
Your roadmap is not "one and done." It will need to be regularly reviewed and adjusted to account for any changes in your company, especially if you are in an agile industry. If you're a new company, you'll want to review your product roadmap every month. If your product is more mature, then you'll only need to review it quarterly. In addition, take into account whether the market you're in is stable or dynamic. Review your roadmap more often in dynamic markets.
A product roadmap is like the story of the growth of your company. It should be created with careful consideration. Don't oversell it. Be realistic. Spend time planning out your roadmap by focusing on your vision for your product and how you'll achieve it. If you follow these tips your roadmap will be a clear, visual representation of your company's rise to the top and an efficient guide to get you there.
Jared Atchison is the co-founder of WPForms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that's being used on over 400,000 websites.