Building your first roadmap

Created on by Artjom Vassiljev

Building your first roadmap

Product roadmap is an important strategic tool that helps you align all of the stakeholders on your direction. It is vitally important for the whole company, including clients, to know where you are heading. Here we will cover the process we have in place and tools we use to build a roadmap.

Why you need a roadmap

This is a very common question people may ask, especially if you’re trying to build things the agile way. Why bother making long-term plans if everything might change the next week?

A roadmap is your high-level strategy that illustrates how your product will evolve over time. No matter your product maturity, you should still have a vision of where you’re heading. And this is exactly what you must catch in that roadmap.

Your goal is not to have a plan that can collect dust. Instead you should keep re-visiting it every few weeks to see if you’re still aligned, and update it when needed.

Who are my stakeholders

To answer simply: it’s you and everyone else. When you’re building software, developers need to plan way ahead the 1-2 sprints for major features. And your marketing department will thank you for the long-term vision because the will be able to plan campaigns and communication in advance. Sales will be able to communicate better and close more deals when they know which features are planned. Finally, you also need to tell current and prospective investors what lies ahead. You can’t just show them a screenshot from Jira, can you?

Setting your goals

Before you start with the roadmap your should think about the goals. What are you planning to achieve in the near-term? What are you goals for the next quarter? Next year? Include measurable objectives that will bring you closer to the stated goals. Having defined the above you can start drafting the plan.

Keep the following questions in mind:

  • Does this feature help address problems faced by users?
  • Does this feature align with our long-term vision?
  • Does this feature bring us closer to the stated goals?

Input gathering

Building a roadmap should never be done in isolation. It consists of multiple components:

  • Your company vision (executives, investors)
  • Your company employees (engineers, managers, workers)
  • Your customer needs

Only by combining the feedback from all of the stakeholders you are able to design a great product roadmap.

The tools that will help you

  • Intercom, Crisp, and FreshChat are the live chat modules that clients use for getting quick help. This is an essential tool for gathering the feedback
  • Zendesk is similar live chat apps but works via email.
  • Trello and Jira are one of the most popular development tools for agile teams.
  • Copper, PipeDrive, and other CRM can also be used to gather customer feedback and build feature requirements graphs