Early in my career I had a boss who frequently reminded us that "she with a plan wins." I took her credo to heart -- today I lead with a goal-first approach that drives everything I do.
Knowing you need a plan is one thing. But a smart product plan does not develop overnight. A roadmap to success takes planning and a true understanding of your company's vision -- the "true north" for where you are headed.
As a product manager, you have to work with leadership and other cross-functional teams to establish the goals and initiatives required to get you there. And then you have to put it all into place in a consumable format for different audiences, so that they can understand the path ahead and how their work fits in.
The roadmap is a key document for any business. It forces critical thinking, explains where teams are going, and helps everyone stay on track.
Roadmaps reinforce a clear purpose and that "true north" to work towards. It helps align the daily tasks of the team with their product's long-term goals.
To bring consistency to their product plans (and to save time), many different groups rely on roadmap templates. The most common use case is product and technology teams. IT groups are not the only ones who rely on a technology roadmap template. Groups in manufacturing, marketing, and consulting all utilize technology roadmap templates for strategic planning.
The challenge is that historically many of these roadmap templates are often found in offline tools like Excel and PowerPoint. But these tools were disconnected from other collaborative tools that the team was using. This made it tough for product managers to keep their teams updated on the product plan. And even minor changes demanded a lot of work.
Now roadmapping software provides highly customized, scalable examples for all types of teams. These cloud-based solutions allow teams to input their release plan once, then quickly build an unlimited amount of roadmap templates. Teams are then empowered to share the live roadmap with other colleagues and stakeholders.
What kind of product plan are you working against? Depending on what you are building there may be several roadmaps in your future.
Here are a few examples of the common types of roadmaps used in many businesses:
The product roadmap template
Every product manager knows that the requests never seem to end. Customers have seemingly endless ideas for new features. The leadership teams always want to know what is coming next. A visual product roadmap template makes it easy to visualize your product vision. Showcase how your goals and initiatives roll up to product vision and the high-level strategy of your entire product portfolio or business. The product roadmap is also an opportunity to link your strategy work back to releases and features to show how the day-to-day work is supporting those goals.
The technology roadmap template
Most IT managers know how it feels to be over capacity. Everyone has opinions on what they should build and how it should get done. Without a clear way to evaluate new ideas, prioritize features, and manage releases, IT teams can quickly accrue technical debt. That is why technical roadmaps are so essential. These templates empower technical teams to showcase their work at a high level. This helps everyone understand why certain projects are prioritized... and others are not.
The consulting roadmap template
There are several stages in the consulting process that require planning, from pre-project planning to collaborating with clients. Roadmaps allow consultants to manage the products and services that matter most to their clients. Roadmap templates provide a space for consultants to capture and prioritize requests so they can show clients what is coming next. This creates transparency and long-term loyalty. And by having one roadmap to track all client projects, consultants can gain precious time back.
The manufacturing roadmap template
Teams that build hardware or physical products need roadmaps to track and deliver manufacturing services. Manufacturing roadmaps help them collaborate with internal stakeholders and external partners. They also provide more visibility within manufacturing teams themselves. Roadmap templates help these teams answer questions about what is coming next and visualize critical dependencies.
The marketing roadmap template
Roadmap templates give marketing teams what they need to collaborate with colleagues and manage their go-to-market activities. They also allow marketing teams to keep stakeholders in the loop and stay focused on what will drive customer growth. Marketing managers need a clear way to manage revenue-driving campaigns and cross-functional product launches. Roadmaps are the most efficient solution for this goal.
The best roadmaps set clear goals with specific dates and describe some of the actions that will help teams achieve them. This is true in many different types of industries.
Daily demands and unexpected challenges make it easy to feel like there is no direction. That is why the most successful teams use roadmaps to product plan, no matter their industry. These roadmap templates provide a framework for success and that "true north" to keep working towards.