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The software idea and the resources for its implementation are a sound basis for a startup. However, even the most promising project is doomed to failure without proper planning. So the first thing to do is to think through the actions of each team member and determine how to reach the intended goal with minimal effort. Keeping everything in mind is quite challenging; a better approach is to visualize your strategy with a product roadmap.

Some skip this step or do it themselves, which can result in failure. Hiring a qualified project manager (PM) who will save you time and money is much more reasonable. PMs are responsible for the roadmap. They’re the ones who create and manage the product plan, making changes to it as needed, monitoring its implementation, and performing other related activities. For the experienced PM, the roadmap is a tactical tool to achieve strategic goals.

Let’s discuss in detail why you need a roadmap for software development and how to use it correctly. In our article, we’ll share valuable insights with you and provide a few product roadmap templates and examples.

What is a Product Roadmap?

Let’s start with the fair question: what is a product roadmap? You may know the answer, but we’d still like to clarify the concept to make sure we’re on the same page.

A roadmap illustrates the sequence of tasks a team must complete to strike a set goal, whether releasing a product or achieving specific metrics. In the IT area, the roadmap usually deals with software development.

Best Product Roadmap Templates and Examples

Product roadmap example

The roadmap is the PM’s primary document; its purpose is to describe the planned activities to the team members and external stakeholders, such as clients, partners, and investors. Also, the roadmap conveys the product idea and vision and visualizes the progress of the tasks.

Creating a product roadmap is just the initial step of an IT project. Our team offers a turnkey service that includes all stages of software product development.


By using the roadmap, different departments can work as a team with much greater efficiency.

Can You Do Without a Roadmap?

Indeed, you can—but why should you?

Imagine that you, as a business owner, are planning to launch a new product, let’s say a website. As you understand, its development takes a lot of time and requires significant investments. So that the money isn’t wasted, it’s better to accompany the creation process with marketing activities. However, when should you start promoting a product that still exists as an idea? How should you allocate responsibilities and prioritize tasks? It is here that a roadmap will step in to help.

This document allows each participant to see the product development stage and understand who is doing what at a particular time.

Benefits of product roadmaps:

Best Product Roadmap Templates and Examples
  • Better communication. By studying a visualized work plan, each participant in the process understands the ultimate goal and sees their role in its achievement.
  • A unified product vision. The product vision also becomes more apparent, which means a lesser risk of misinterpreting the project objectives. Accordingly, the result of the work is much better.
  • Synchronized actions. A roadmap is a great way to synchronize the team’s work and coordinate each participant’s efforts.
  • Higher effectiveness. A well-thought-out roadmap makes it possible to correctly distribute the company’s resources and reach the goal faster and with lower costs.
  • Plan visualization. Roadmaps are typically presented as diagrams, color tables, or visual schemes, making the product plan more understandable and clear.

Essential Roadmap Components

To develop a product roadmap strategy, you need to know what such a plan consists of:

  • Vision. You should start by defining the long-term goal of your project. Why do you need this product to begin with? What do you plan to achieve with it? The answers to all these questions will help you formulate a product vision.
  • Goals. In the second stage, the product vision should be split into clear and achievable goals—stages that can be assessed using specific indicators.
  • The strategy describes the steps that must be taken to bring the idea to life.
  • Features are the components of your product, kind of like the bricks of a future building. In the case of software, these building blocks are usually features that reflect the product functionality.
  • Status markers. You need to understand at what stage the implementation of the project is. This is where status markers come in handy.
  • Metrics will allow you to estimate if you managed to achieve your goal, whether it’s active user engagement or improving organic traffic.
  • Time frame. Sometimes you can do without exact dates, but you need to determine the timelines for passing the project stages at least approximately.

Who is Involved in Creating the Product Roadmap Strategy?

To draw up a roadmap, you need to get a lot of insight from a variety of project participants—including both the client and the production team. Only you, as a client, know your product’s goal. Only development experts can turn these goals into concrete features. And only marketers understand the specifics of promotion campaigns. The list of specialists able to provide you with the necessary data goes on. 

However, the key player in the process is the project manager (PM). Without the PM’s assistance, you’ll have to work on the plan on your own, which isn’t so easy to do, especially without proper experience. Even ready-made product roadmap templates won’t make the task less challenging.

We propose to discuss the PM’s role in more detail.

PMs as Product Plan Management Experts

PMs manage the project, coordinate the work of all parties involved, and serve as a link between the client and the contractor. Their responsibilities include task prioritization, activity planning, and internal and external communications. The creation and management of roadmaps are also among their duties.

Let’s assume you’ve refused PM services and decided to do road mapping yourself. To get started, you must find someone to contact to receive all the required information. And your problems won’t end after it happens: now you have to spend a lot of effort organizing and structuring this data into a working plan. The project manager will get the job done faster and better, if only because it’s within his area of expertise. You, in turn, can use the saved time to deal with more high-value business activities. Clearly, it’s a win-win situation.

In addition, it’s not enough to develop a product roadmap strategy; you then need to manage your plan and make adjustments to it if necessary. It would be better if the PM took care of this matter too. Не should also inform the relevant participants about changed conditions, whether it’s a postponed deadline or the need to allocate more resources to solve specific problems. 

Product Roadmap Classification

Roadmaps can be classified in different ways. Let’s take a look at the main ones.

Roadmaps Typification by Target Audience

The roadmap type largely depends on the audience it’s aimed at. After all, a presentation for external stockholders is one thing, and a document designed to help developers create a software product on time is another. In the first case, the roadmap contains no specific internal data and roughly indicates the timelines. In the second case, things are pretty different: the production team needs to understand the internal processes related to the product implementation.

However, let’s be more specific and give some product roadmap examples, taking into account the target audience they focus on:

  • Executives. When the roadmap targets executives, product goals, market achievements, and other similar indicators come to the foreground. And the document should visualize how the team plans to reach them.
  • Software Team. The roadmap for the team responsible for the project implementation must necessarily include a technical component. Developers should have an understanding of the technology stack, features, sprints, and timelines. This roadmap is designed to help them organize the development process properly.
  • Sales and Marketing Teams. In this case, the roadmap conveys the product value. For example, the PM can create a special diagram illustrating how specific features benefit users and when each is scheduled for release. The marketing team will have to promote the product on the market, and such a document would be their good helper.
  • External Audience. Such a roadmap informs users about planned releases and product updates so that the company’s customers anticipate and wait for them in advance. Among other things, it’s a great way to increase customer engagement. You can also show the external product plan to investors to convince them to sponsor the project. This roadmap highlights the product’s benefits and thus resembles a document for the marketing team. However, an external audience doesn’t need to know accurate deadlines, so it’s enough to illustrate planned release sequences. And it’s best to implement it in a visual presentation format.

Sometimes the PM creates a general product plan that combines the above audiences. Unfortunately, there is a risk of the final presentation being too cumbersome and unwieldy. A more reasonable option is a separate document for each target group.

Classification of Roadmaps by Objectives

The second method of classification is partly related to the previous one. While targeting a specific audience to some extent, it also offers a slightly different approach to structuring, prioritizing, and planning future initiatives. The main focus is on the roadmap’s goal and objectives.

  • Product-focused roadmap. This visualizes the goals and objectives of the product and offers a clear plan for its creation and further step-by-step development.
  • The project roadmap is similar to the previous one, with some differences. Here we’re dealing with a general overview of the project, illustrated on one page. Instead of focusing exclusively on product development activities, as in the first case, this roadmap covers the project as a whole and shows the big picture.
  • Technology roadmap. The name says it all, implying that the roadmap deals with technical aspects and development features. The main task is to help the software team optimize their work on product delivery.
  • The strategic roadmap. This targets management and covers the long-term perspective of the product. It shows how the product should lead the company to its business goals.

Timeline-Based Roadmaps Classification

Strict timing isn’t always needed for successful roadmapping. Some product roadmap examples do just fine without exact deadlines.

In general, we can distinguish the following categories in this section:

  • Roadmaps without timelines. As we’ve said, some target audiences don’t need to know a definite time frame. Also, if the project has just started, you may also find it challenging to operate with dates, so you can do without them at first.
  • Timeline-based roadmaps. This is the opposite case when the PM clearly states all the deadlines when creating a roadmap.
  • Intermediate option. A roadmap can also be somewhere between these two options. This offers general, rough deadlines without an apparent reference to specific dates.

Classification Depending on the Development Model

And finally, roadmaps are classified depending on the chosen method of software development.

  • A waterfall roadmap describes a sequence of development stages that strictly follow each other and don’t repeat. Such a plan doesn’t include the ability to return to previous steps, reducing the development process’s flexibility. On the bright side, the timing and budget are more predictable.
  • An agile roadmap deals with a cross-functional approach to development, where the work process is broken down into separate iterations or cycles. Each cycle involves the achievement of a specific goal. The main thing is that you can always take a step back and correct the strategy if necessary. 

The waterfall roadmap is usually focused on business goals and deals with financial metrics. Agile projects work with customer needs and take into account such metrics as user satisfaction and growth.

An agile approach is especially popular in IT; its main advantage is the ability to remain flexible, adapt to new circumstances, and timely implement the latest technologies that constantly appear. It’s part of the SDLC philosophy that we, the NIX team, also follow, as we consider it the best way to work with software products.

Striking Product Roadmap Examples

To better understand what roadmaps are and how they actually look, explore a few interesting and illustrative examples we provide below.

Prioritization of Features and Releases

One of the most popular product roadmap templates in the IT project area is a document that helps the PM prioritize features and plan their release sequence. Such a roadmap is scheduled by date and takes into account the available resources and the requirements set.

Best Product Roadmap Templates and Examples

External Roadmap

Here is a great example of the external roadmap. Created by Facebook a few years ago, it announces the company’s plans for the next decade.

As we’ve already mentioned, the external roadmap offers no exact dates—its purpose is to illustrate what products and in what order the company intends to release in the coming years.

Best Product Roadmap Templates and Examples

Step-by-step Plan with Explanations

Sometimes a concise plan with simple task prioritization, demonstrated in the first example, isn’t enough. If that’s the case, we use a product roadmap template detailing each development stage.

Typically, such roadmaps are aimed at an external audience unfamiliar with the project specifics. The purpose is to visualize how our team plans to achieve product goals.

Best Product Roadmap Templates and Examples

Combined Approach

The combined approach in road mapping is rarely used because it can be somewhat confusing: too much information to process. However, such a plan is exactly what you need in some cases.

The example below shows how this roadmap helps coordinate web, mobile, and marketing teams.

Best Product Roadmap Templates and Examples

Main Steps to Create a Product Roadmap

We’re going to describe a general approach to roadmap creation. It can be adapted and changed depending on the goals of your project, the target audience, and other essential factors.

Initial Planning

It all starts with a discussion of your long-term goal. Of course, you know better what you want to get in the end, but we, on our part, are ready to help you translate your business goals into software language.

Breakdown of the Project into Stages

With a clear product vision, we can move on to more specific planning steps.

Our experts, assisted by the Project Manager, divide the final goal into achievable stages of software development. Next, we compile a list of features needed to achieve your goal and prioritize them. We link features to specific stages and add timelines to them if necessary. Sometimes timeframes are better left flexible.

In addition, we need to choose metrics to control the planned development steps and track their successful implementation.

Roadmap Adaptation to the Audience

The product roadmap foundation is put up, and the PM can proceed with developing a detailed action plan. But first, it’s crucial to determine the audiences it’ll target.

Ideally, each team needs its own plan: say, developers should be more comfortable with a roadmap based on feature prioritization, and marketers have to know when a working version of the product will be released so they can start a promotional campaign in time.

Continuous Roadmap Update

A roadmap is a flexible tool that can and should be changed during project execution. It is vital to respond to new conditions and update your plan accordingly.

A prime example is Facebook, which was forced by the pandemic to alter its plans. The company had no choice but to take a closer look at Facebook Messenger and Facebook Live broadcasts and invest a lot of effort in these features, as demand for them increased significantly due to the quarantine.

The Project Manager ensures that the roadmap remains up to date and that all parties involved in the development process are aware of any changes made to the plan.

Tools & Services for Product Roadmap Creation

One of the easiest ways to create a roadmap is to use spreadsheets like Excel. However, they have their drawbacks, mainly the inability to visualize the strategy in a proper way. Much better results can be achieved using special programs and ready-made templates:

  • ProductPlan. This resource works by subscription with a half-month free trial period. The service is so easy to use and popular that even big names like Coca-Cola choose it when they need to find a cool template.
  • Roadmunk. The platform is also monetized through a paid subscription. It offers a ton of pre-made product roadmap templates; what’s more, you can customize them to fit your tastes and needs. In addition, the system supports exporting files to other formats. Clients include Microsoft, Netflix, and Amazon.
  • Miro is a user-friendly visualization service. Even those who haven’t dealt with template solutions before will quickly figure out how to work with it. Miro is convenient for joint work on the roadmap, which is its undeniable advantage. 
  • Aha! This template platform is quite expensive; its monthly price is almost $60, which exceeds the rates of the above solutions. But the trial period lasts as long as a month, and the functionality attracts users with a variety of features, including the integration of Google Analytics and Zendesk.


As you can see now, you shouldn’t underestimate roadmaps and the help of the PM in their creation and management. You and your business will benefit significantly if you strategize your project and turn it into a clear action plan. And our NIX team would be happy to become your technical partner and help you bring your idea to life.


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