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Product roadmap

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a visual summary of a product’s direction to facilitate communication with customers, prospects, partners, and internal stakeholders.

How is a product roadmap used?

Rather than a statement of commitment, a product roadmap signals general product direction and should be expected to shift with market and business conditions. In this spirit, a product roadmap should be seen as a living document, a snapshot in time that is subject to frequent change. The more distant the time horizon, the less reliable the commitments. For example, roadmap items three months out may be relatively close to committed, while the six, nine, and twelve month horizons become progressively lower confidence. Likewise, the detail tends to be a higher fidelity in these earlier horizons, whereas the later horizons are a more thematic view of what’s coming next.

How is a product roadmap different from a project plan?

Unlike a project plan, a product roadmap is a high-level artifact that focuses on vision and themes rather than the fine details of the product. However, there are different levels of visibility and detail that are appropriate for different audiences — for example, customers may need to see more than prospects and customer success more than sales.

How do companies manage their product roadmaps?

There are lots of commercial tools for creating and managing product roadmaps. Pendo provides some capabilities in this area, as do vendors including Aha!, ProdPad, ProductBoard, ProductPlan, and others. Many companies still create and manage product roadmaps using general-purpose tools like PowerPoint and Confluence, but often find this to become unwieldy as the documents are updated over time and adapted for different audiences.

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