airfocus-logoBlog
airfocus search exit

Try for free

Roadmapping

Why Google Sheets and Slides Roadmap Templates May Not Be the Best Solution for Product Management

9 May 20236 mins read
Quadri Oshibotu
Why Google Sheets and Slides Roadmap Templates May Not Be the Best Solution for Product Management
By Quadri Oshibotu
CONTENTS

The product roadmap is one of the key artifacts that product managers are required to craft and update regularly.

Rather than using a generic tool that just enables you to create roadmaps, product managers should leverage roadmapping tools that support the entire product management process.

For example, some product professionals use Google Sheets and Google Slides for roadmapping. Can these two tools be used to create roadmap templates? They certainly can. However, in this article, we’re going to outline their limitations, why you should consider a different approach, and provide some guidance on best practices and more to craft an effective roadmap.

Templates

Get started with
roadmaps templates

Find template
airfocus templates

Google Sheets and Google Slides

Google Sheets and Google Slides are two popular tools in the Google suite of products.

Google Sheets is used for creating spreadsheets, and graphs, and manipulating data. And Google Slides is used to create and share presentations.

These tools are great for the purpose they were created for, but when it comes to leveraging them for product roadmaps they lack heavily.

Excel roadmapping templates

Building roadmaps with Google products

Before we clarify how these two tools fall short for the task at hand let’s outline some of the key activities that product managers perform with their product roadmaps:

  • Customize roadmaps to suit one’s team and/or product

  • Integrate the roadmap with project management tools to track progress and manage the entire process from strategy to delivery

  • Share roadmap views with stakeholders

  • Collaborate on roadmap initiatives with team members

  • Connect roadmap initiatives with product strategy

As robust as Google Sheets and Google Slides are, they do not support these activities.

With Google Sheets and Google Slides you can input items to view, add broad timelines, and share your document with stakeholders. They also support automatic updates.

However, integrating with tools such as JIRA to manage delivery progress is not possible. Likewise, collecting feedback will be a manual process and you would likely have to use another tool to accomplish this.

They also do not come with diverse ready out-of-the-box templates for product teams to leverage.

To be fair, there are add-ons and integrations that provide additional capabilities.

For example, using Timeline JS for Google Sheets to manage your projects. Or the gantt chart add-on for Google Slides where you can import a gantt chart from a Google Sheet into your presentation.

Do note that these additional add-ons are geared towards project management and may not assist much when it comes to the strategy portion of product management.

A better approach to crafting roadmaps

Product teams should utilize tools that facilitate their product practice. And there are multiple options to choose from. 

Purpose-built roadmapping tools come with a variety of features that support not only the product management function, but also support with business strategy and delivery. 

For example, airfocus, a popular product management tool relied on by product teams who want to practice product management the modern way, comes with:

Other roadmapping options include Roadmunk, Aha!, ProductPlan, Productboard, and others.

While many of these tools offer the ability to create interactive roadmaps, they differ in the level of innovative features offered, integrations, services provided by their team, and pricing.

airfocus main page

Three best practices when using purpose built roadmaps

The purpose of the product roadmap is to communicate how the product will evolve to support company goals.

The tool you use is just a part of the process. As you’re crafting your product roadmap there are some best practices you should keep in mind to ensure that you craft effective roadmaps, address the unique needs of your team(s), and accomplish your goals.

These best practices will also create and maintain trust among your key stakeholders.

1. Leverage stakeholder input

Roadmaps are created with inputs from multiple stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders will have insights based on customer discussions, market activity, sales discussions, and more. They may also be able to provide additional information and respectfully challenge assumptions to support prioritization discussions.

It’s key to gather input from external stakeholders as well, especially from customers as their input will drive how your roadmap evolves over time.

The output of stakeholder involvement is a well-crafted roadmap that communicates how you will continue to deliver customer value and drive business outcomes.

Once the roadmap is crafted then it should be shared with stakeholders. For external stakeholders, the roadmap can be shared via a link that’s handed to them or shared in your support wiki, for example.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Roadmaps to learn more about the best practices for external facing roadmaps.

roadmap presentation

2. Set realistic timelines

Set your team up for success with realistic timelines.

You can share more refined granular dates with your internal team (once confirmed and you have a certain level of confidence), but do communicate if these dates get adjusted.

For external facing roadmaps it’s best to use broad timelines. It’s common on many external facing roadmaps to display quarters as the column heading, or the even more flexible approach of Now, Next, Later.

Both of these options communicate the priority to your external stakeholders while providing your team with a window to ship your roadmap initiatives.

Now, Next, Later roadmap

3. Effective prioritization

There are multiple techniques that are used for prioritization including RICE, Impact to Effort, Priority Poker, and more. Whichever method you employ there are two key things to keep in mind.

1. Involve stakeholders in the prioritization process

Stakeholders may have insights that support prioritization decisions. Engaging them also helps create trust among your team(s). While product managers define the final product, building and sustaining products is a team sport.

2. Have a transparent prioritization method

Whatever prioritization method you use, even if you take a common one and customize it to your needs, make the steps and process clear to your team(s) so they understand how it works.

Once you’ve determined the key initiatives to prioritize even if there are stakeholders that do not 100% agree, then they will still be on board because they were included in the process (and had their chance to express their opinions) and understand how the final decision was made.

There’s a lot that can be said about this topic but check out The Ultimate Guide to Prioritization to learn more.

prioritization

Bonus tips to level up your roadmap tool

Here are three additional tips to help you utilize your roadmap tool to its maximum level of effectiveness.

1. Add Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It’s imperative to have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your roadmap initiatives.

This is a measurable value that aligns directly to an overall goal or objective of a business, and is used to evaluate how well an initiative is reaching its targets.

Check out this article on how to set, measure, and track KPIs to learn more.

While you may mainly see these listed on outcome based roadmaps, ensure that you define them even if you are not using this specific roadmap.

This kind of thinking, about outcomes and how they relate to business goals, is one of the key differentiators between product companies that focus on delivering value versus feature factories that focus on output.

kpi-dashboard

2. Track user feedback

User feedback is beneficial for knowing how your users and customers feel about your roadmap initiatives. So collect it.

Though there are tools such as Pendo, Canny, and Amplitude that can be used to gather customer feedback, there are also roadmapping tools like airfocus and Aha! that integrate customer feedback with the roadmapping process.

Check out airfocus Insights, and Portal to learn more about how to keep feedback organized, connect insights to product discovery and strategy, and close the feedback loop.

airfocus Portal

3. Constantly revisit your roadmap

Plans do not always go as expected. Business priorities change, resources change, and customer demands change. As a result your product plans will change and your roadmap should change as well.

This is why you need a tool that provides real-time changes; modifications get updated for everyone who has access.

Constantly revisit your roadmap and update it when product plans change. And be sure to mention these changes when presenting your roadmap to key stakeholders to level set expectations.

Conclusion

Google Sheets and Google Slides are great tools for the purpose they were built for, however they lack the functionality required to support product teams with building and maintaining product roadmaps.

This is due to their lack of customization options, integrations to track work, and the ability to work effectively in tandem with your team.

Leverage a tool that supports your product management process. One that not only adapts to your teams’ needs, but also contains multiple customizable templates to get started, captures feedback and prioritize initiatives, and track progress.

airfocus accomplishes all of this and more. To learn more about how airfocus can assist your product management team, book a demo with us today!

Check out the airfocus blog to continue learning about product management including news, round-ups, and industry insights.

Product Digest newsletter signup
Newsletter

Cut through the clutter of
PM Content with our
bi-weekly digest

Sign up

Quadri Oshibotu

Quadri Oshibotu

Founder, Instructor, and Mentor @ Product Hall
Quadri is an experienced product manager with multiple years of experience building world-class products. He is passionate about building products that have a positive impact on people’s lives and helping people grow through training and mentorship....more
17 Articles
airfocus templates
Templates
Get started with roadmaps templates
Find template

Read also

Testimonial Company
Product Strategy 23 May 2024
Taking Accountability: How Product Marketing OKRs Define the Role
Learn how to create effective OKRs for product marketing, navigate the unique challenges, and align cross-departmental goals to drive organizational success.
By Andrea Saez
Testimonial Company
Testimonial Company

Build great
roadmaps

Book a demo

Instant tour

airfocus modular platform

Experience the new
way of doing product
management

airfocus modular platform
Top rated
on major platforms
g2 badge users love us
g2 badge momentum leader
GetApp badge category leader
software advice badge
capterra shortlist badge
proddy badge roadmapping
crozdesk badge
Company
All rights reserved. contact@airfocus.com
ENDE