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❮ Previous Chapter 5

Roadmaps: The (Visual) Result of Your Prioritization Process

The results of your prioritization process, which is a decision of what to build and when are best visualized as a roadmap.

Your roadmap is the single source of truth to map out and visualize both the short and long-term direction of your product, as well as all the steps needed to deliver against your goals.

Being both a strategic and action-based document, it’ll be one of the most important tools in your product manager toolkit. We won’t delve into roadmapping in this guide, as it is a whole new topic. You’ll find numerous useful and actionable resources about roadmapping within our learning material and tools. That’s why we’ve structured a collection of all the essential roadmapping bits you should know in order to build a great roadmap.

Typical information you should find on the roadmap

Roadmaps only include the most necessary information. This includes milestones, responsible teams or people, items, initiatives, themes, and of course, progress.

Level of detail varies by audience

You'll have to adapt the level of detail depending on the audience you are sharing your roadmap with. Executives and C-level will need a zoomed-out version, as they don't need as many details as your developers. Likewise, you would include less detailed timings and descriptions when presenting a public roadmap (versus an internal product roadmap).

Depending on your use case or audience you may decide to opt for a:

Progress-based roadmap: A progress-based product roadmap divides the current items into lanes based on the level of progress, for example as "to-do," "in progress," or "done".

They are commonly used in agile development, one of the reasons being that they generally offer users more flexibility than a time-based roadmap as, instead of being restricted by dates and deadlines, tasks are based on progress.

Time-based roadmap: These types of roadmaps are primarily focused on dates, milestones and deadlines. They use time as the main mechanism for measuring success, which can be a great method for visualizing how your product will progress over time.

There are hundreds of roadmap templates out there, and they can also include both progress and time based combinations.

But the bottom line is that when done right, it will be the tool that ensures that you are focusing on the right things at the right time.

What tool to use for creating a roadmap?

A lot of people are still spending hours(!) transforming their JIRA projects into a product roadmap using Excel or Powerpoint. The thing is: your roadmap will change regularly and you need to be able to adapt it in minutes.

This document is meant to help you keep everyone aligned, being your single source of truth. Your product roadmap should always look visually slick so that it makes a good impression when presenting it to colleagues and management.

But it shouldn’t require you to be a gifted designer to create a visually appealing roadmap.

The right tools, like airfocus for example, will take care of that allowing you to concentrate on the content instead.

Moreover, your audience should always have access to an up-to-date version (e.g. via a link) instead of searching for an outdated Excel file in their Email-Inbox.