A dozen answers for a dozen different people. (All before lunch.) Yep — this is the life of a product manager. You are all-knowing for all things product. Everyone from marketing to sales to support and the executive team looks to you for answers. But are your product plans visually presented in a way that answers each group’s questions clearly?
When done right, a product roadmap will help you share a visual plan so you can quickly communicate what is ahead to everyone else.
But there is a key fact that is often forgotten. The components you include on each roadmap will vary depending on the audience. For instance, the engineering team will want to see how the high-level product strategy aligns with the releases, features, and requirements — while the marketing team will need more insight on how all of the above benefits customers. And executives will want to know how your key product initiatives map to the corporate goals.
More than 200,000 people use Aha! to create beautiful visual roadmaps — which is why we are the world’s #1 product roadmap software. But we understand that not every product manager is ready to be an Aha! customer just yet. Regardless, our goal is to help everyone build lovable products.
Besides, sometimes you just need to visualize the plan fast — before you can take your product planning to the next level with a purpose-built tool. That is why, in addition to our free 30-day trial and starter roadmap that helps you get going with Aha! in minutes, we are providing 16 roadmap templates for product managers to download. These templates are available separate from our roadmapping software in static spreadsheet and presentation formats that you can download and customize to meet your needs.
However, before you pick a roadmap template and start customizing it, consider what it is for and what your audience needs to see.
You see, these templates simply show you different ways to display your plans. There are different components, meant for different audiences. The hard work is understanding what to show to any given group to convey your message.
So, we thought it would be helpful to explain exactly how to map the product roadmap templates (the ones we provided for you to download in the link above) to your intended audience:
Audience: Executive and advisory boards
Create roadmaps that focus on high-level themes — such as product direction, investment areas, and timelines for major bodies of work. This helps executive and advisory boards see how the product(s) aligns with the overall business goals.
Roadmap template: Goals
The goals roadmap communicates your high-level business goals. It provides a snapshot of your strategic goals and when you will achieve them.
Roadmap template: Product portfolio
Use this roadmap if you are managing multiple products and need to provide a strategic overview of your plan. With this template, you can show your planned releases for all your products in a single view.
Roadmap template: Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe)
If your organization implements SAFe, this roadmap will help show your Program Increment (PI) milestones and objectives over a six-month time frame. It is useful when you need to give executives visibility into the deliverables of the current PI and to forecast upcoming PIs. It also shows how near-term plans align with overall business priorities before PIs are committed.
Create roadmaps that communicate planned work and timing. This helps engineering teams with capacity planning estimates.
Roadmap template: Agile
Use this roadmap if you are an agile team that needs to communicate a high-level product strategy. It communicates how epics align with strategic themes — helping the engineering team understand how their daily work relates to the big-picture plan.
Roadmap template: Scrum
This roadmap is for teams that follow the scrum methodology. It displays how user stories fit within upcoming sprints or iterations. This is useful when you need to share progress updates and communicate when new working software will be shown in sprint demos.
Roadmap template: Kanban
For teams that follow the kanban methodology, this roadmap shows the features that were recently completed, currently in progress, coming soon, or further out in the future. It is useful when you need to set expectations without committing to a specific time frame.
Create roadmaps that communicate cross-functional factors — such as planned work across the teams. This helps marketing teams with go-to-marketing planning.
Roadmap template: Initiatives
This roadmap represents your strategic product initiatives — the high-level work that needs to be completed to achieve the goals. Use this to communicate what the timeline for achieving the initiatives.
Roadmap template: Releases
This displays key activities such as phases and tasks that need to happen to bring your release to market. It is also great for communicating the key features that will be delivered.
Audience: Sales and support
Create roadmaps that highlight time frames. This is useful to sales and support when they are working on opportunities and supporting customers.
Roadmap template: Features
Use this roadmap to show the timeline for delivering new features. It is great for displaying when features of strategic importance will be completed within three to four months. It is also useful when you need to provide more details about what is coming to internal teams, such as marketing, sales, and customer support. For teams that follow a continuous deployment approach, it is helpful for communicating near-term product plans.
Roadmap template: Epics
This roadmap uses epics (or master features) to represent large efforts of work that typically cannot be delivered in a single release. It displays important new functionality that will be implemented to achieve the goals. It will help to guide backlog prioritization decisions by ensuring that upcoming features (or user stories) relate to overarching epics.
No matter what tool you use, you need a clear and simple roadmap to communicate your plans.
The key is to know your audience. Once you know who you are building that roadmap for and what they need to see, the roadmap will come together quick — whether you are using purpose-built roadmapping software like Aha! or a template for a quick static roadmap view.
With the right kind of roadmap, you will deliver teammates the answers they need quickly. And you will reinforce your position as all-knowing for all things product.
Which roadmap templates do you use most often?