Project management can be a tricky business, right?
Projects rarely just fall simply into place, and your path to success is almost guaranteed to be winding... and a little bumpy, too.
This is why product roadmaps are such an essential tool for keeping projects on track. Roadmaps keep workflows running smoothly — aligning the whole team on what needs doing when, preventing missed deadlines (and awkward misunderstandings as well).
Luckily for all the overworked project managers out there, there are plenty of brilliant tools designed specifically to help.
Product roadmap software makes building — and following — awesome, effective roadmaps a breeze and helps keep teams on track from the very beginning.
What’s not to love?
But before you dive headfirst into your next project, there are a few things you need to know.
It’s not quite as simple as closing your eyes, picking the first program that crosses your path, and getting started. There are many different product roadmap tools out there, each with its own particular strengths and weaknesses.
Exploring the myriad options and finding the program that’s right for you and your specific needs can take time. It is almost a project in need of its own roadmap!
But don’t worry. We’ve already done the legwork, so you don’t have to.
We’ve put together a list of the 5 best product roadmap software options in 2021, comparing and contrasting features and exploring the pros and cons of each one.
Some of the same tools feature in our 2020 product roadmap software review, too. While others are newer kids on the block.
But before we get started, let’s go back to basics and take a quick look at what exactly product roadmap software is and why you need it.
Product roadmap software provides a framework for project managers and their teams to design, create, and implement their product roadmaps.
It allows you a simple, user-friendly way to map your product’s journey from concept to completion — tracking progress, staying on top of deadlines, and ensuring effective collaboration throughout.
Product roadmap software allows you to design and create your own roadmaps, of course, but it also provides templates and ready-made solutions, saving even more time.
Saving time and effort at every stage? Sign us up right now!
Roadmaps allow project managers to combine high-level strategy with keeping the nitty-gritty, day-to-day tasks on track. The best roadmaps set out the vision for a project while clearly showing all the steps needed to make it a reality.
Understandably, every product team will have its own requirements. Different teams have different needs and goals and will use different roadmaps. These are all just a click away in product roadmap software.
Timelines, goals, milestones, and outcomes can all be visualized straightforwardly and attractively, giving managers the ability to see into the future and try to always be one step ahead.
We say “try” because, as we all know, a product plan often needs to flex and adapt at very short notice.
Product roadmap software makes it easy to update timelines, change direction, and reprioritize your plan of attack. And because these platforms are built for change, those amendments are quick to make (way quicker than on Excel, Google Sheets or via Post-It notes!)
Roadmap tools make your roadmap incredibly easy to share as well.
The whole team can be involved at every stage, providing top-notch collaboration and crystal clear communication. All stakeholders remain aligned, changes are easy to make, and everyone is always up-to-date with project progress.
Product roadmaps have always been an essential part of product management best practice. But now they are more important now than ever, as we look toward a fully-remote or hybrid approach for team working in the future.
So now that we’ve covered the why and what about product roadmap software, let’s take a look at the best software options on the market in 2021.
airfocus is the product prioritization tool, helping teams to work more effectively and deliver better results.
We’re particularly proud of our algorithmic scoring — a feature that visually maps your tasks by priority, helping managers make better decisions. This RICE scoring function helps prevent feature bias, while our unique ‘Priority Poker’ feature helps democratize decision-making between team members.
Prioritization: Prioritization is a core feature of airfocus and is what makes it stand out from the competition. This is particularly helpful when roadmaps need rearranging and re-implementing… as they often do.
A comprehensive feature set: airfocus ticks all the project management boxes and includes Kanban boards, Gantt roadmaps, and priority charts.
All the templates you’d need: airfocus provides a vast range of customizable and editable roadmap templates allowing you to get to work immediately.
no free version
airfocus offers a paid plan for individuals starting at $19 per month and for teams starting at $39 per editor per month. We also offer a free 14-day trial plan.
“There are many roadmapping tools out there. I've tried them all. However, none allowed me to prioritize with ease and display important initiatives in a visual & decisive manner such as airfocus. The options to customize & visualize priorities are world-class!” - Dee S, Head of Product, via Capterra
Monday.com is a brilliant all-rounder, working really well for teams of any size and set-up.
It’s also an excellent choice for project managers just getting started with the world of product roadmaps. Monday.com is incredibly user-friendly and flexible enough to keep Agile teams, and their workflows, running smoothly.
If you’re looking for a simple way to plan and track progress, Monday.com could be the product management tool for you.
Ease of use: The most attractive element of Monday.com is how user-friendly it is. The interface is straightforward, intuitive, and clearly visualizes your projects once your roadmap is up and running.
24/7 support: Monday.com offers recorded webinars and tutorials that cover a huge variety of potential issues. They provide 24/7 customer support, too (for those 2am roadmap sessions we’re all guilty of sometimes!).
Simple reporting: Tracking KPIs and usage is an easy task and allows managers to continually optimize their project’s progress.
The basic plan is, well... basic: Monday.com is great for simple roadmap tasks and overall product planning. But there are plenty of important features for more complex projects missing from the Basic plan.
Overly-simple task tracking: Monday.com’s task tracking functionality is not particularly advanced.
Speed: The interface can be slightly laggy at times.
Monday.com’s paid plans start at $160 per seat per month. They offer a 14-day free trial as well as a basic free version.
“It is easy to pick-up [...] Our weekly meetings always include a review of our Monday.com project boards and progress. This helps up discuss roadblocks among the team to come up with options for resolution.” — Glenn B, Applications System Analyst, via G2
Trello offers a more comprehensive project management experience and comes with an impressive array of power-ups, add-ons, and integrations.
Despite being packed with features, it still manages to be impressively lightweight. It’s easy to use and excels for teams looking to implement Kanban-style roadmap planning and timetabling.
Templates: Trello has a massive template library, covering every business need in every industry. Better still, every template is easy to customize and easy to use.
Great visibility: Trello’s visual boards and cards help increase accountability across your product team.
Kanban: Trello is one of the best tools for Kanban planning, helping to schedule tasks by dividing them using cards and boards.
Limited storage: Trello’s free version only comes with 10MB of storage.
Commenting: Once you’ve commented on a card, you can’t edit it. Making changes requires a whole new comment. A small, but potentially confusing, set-back for product teams.
Prioritization: Trello doesn’t offer any dedicated prioritization tools.
Trello’s paid plans start at $10 per user per month. They offer a free version with limited features and a free trial version as well.
“Must-have tool for every developer and project manager. Working with Trello can't be easier and is the natural first step for every idea and project. While you might outgrow Trello one day there is no easier way than Trello to get started. The perfect tool for starters to learn Kanban style management too!” — Victor L, Computer Software Founder, via GetApp
Wrike began life as a team collaboration tool, so it is no surprise that it excels in this area.
It offers a highly-intuitive interface with flexible, bespoke dashboards. It’s easy to set up and provides some elegant smart features, including delay prediction and analysis.
Intuitive: Wrike’s interface is incredibly easy to understand, and customizable dashboards help you tailor it precisely to your roadmap needs.
Cloud editing: Wrike allows you to edit documents directly in the cloud without having to download them, removing a step from the process.
Great roadmap management: Plug-and-play with Wrike’s product roadmap template, designed to prioritize tasks, track progress, and keep teams up-to-date.
Overlooks some, seemingly basic, tools: While Wrike offers shared calendars and other collaboration-boosting features, it’s missing out on chat functionality, automatic updates, and time tracking.
Expensive: For the tools it does include, Wrike is a costly option — particularly in comparison to other similar software.
Confusing comment system: The set-up of the comment system can be confusing, and it is easy to miss important messages.
Wrike’s paid plans start at $9.80 per user per month. They offer a limited free version as well as a free trial plan.
“Collaboration between teams is also one of my major strengths, and this application does an excellent job of it. The software facilitates coordination of tasks, agendas, memos, and paper flows” — Everton P, Senior Technical Engineer, via G2
Harvestr is an excellent Agile tool, leveraging data and user insights to keep your product roadmaps user-centric.
Every roadmap decision is taken based on customer feedback and relevant data, allowing effective prioritization and a user-focused final product.
Allows constant improvement: By focusing on the customer, Harvestr keeps product development laser-focused on user experience and a successful end result.
Strong customer support: As you might expect from a user-focused software tool, Harvestr’s customer support is responsive and immensely helpful.
Excellent communication features: Harvestr closes the feedback loop and allows stakeholders to collaborate directly on the project roadmap.
Lack of social media scraping: Harvestr doesn’t currently offer data collection straight from social media.
Sharing complexity: Sharing the roadmap with people outside the project team is complicated.
Not much by way of reporting: Reporting options are pretty limited (as of 2021).
Harvestr’s paid plans start at $39 per editor per month. They offer a limited free plan as well as a free trial.
“Harvestr stood out to me for a simplistic and clean interface [...] It integrates very well with our FreshDesk help-desk allowing our support team to see the status of any requests and with Jira where we are managing our issues.” — Chase F, Product Owner, via Capterra
Making life easier for project managers has never been more important. The last year has seen working processes change in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago.
Remote work has exploded with dispersed teams, and flexible working now the norm.
While super beneficial in many ways, these new processes present a number of unique challenges — particularly when it comes to maintaining workflows and staying on top of product development.
That’s why product roadmap software is indispensable for product teams in 2021.
The tools listed above all have their strengths and weaknesses, and picking the right one often depends on your team’s specific needs. Trello does Kanban brilliantly, while Harvestr’s customer focus helps create amazing user-focused products.
But when it comes down to it, airfocus is the most comprehensive choice for teams looking to make better decisions and supercharge their productivity.