A roadmap is an essential part of any successful product plan. It’s a living, breathing document that illustrates to everyone involved the direction in which you’re headed.

The goal behind building a product roadmap is to:

  • Share the vision with all your stakeholders
  • Align everyone behind a common vision.
  • Guide how you attack design and development
  • Help you to focus on the high-impact opportunities first.

In this article, we break down the process for building the right roadmap for your product.

What do you need to build a product roadmap?

Before beginning to roadmap the design and development of your app, you first have to understand what your users want, why, and where that intersects with your business goals.

This is what discovery workshops are all about. This step, which includes exercises like mapping out your user journey in detail, will uncover a list of opportunities where you can create value – for your users and your business.

During discovery, you’ll prioritise these opportunities based on how much impact they will have and how much effort they will take to deliver.

This will give you four distinct groups of outcomes your solution has to support:

  • Must: The non-negotiable essentials.
  • Should: Not vital, but would create significant value.
  • Could: Would be nice to have.
  • Won’t: Not a priority right now.

This method, known as MoSCoW prioritisation, marks the beginning of your roadmap. At a high-level, this is your order of attack. The next step is grouping together any common themes within this categories.

Themes Over Features

Diving straight into the features does not make for a good product roadmap. Remember, a roadmap has to tell a story to all your stakeholders – not just the technical people in your product team. That’s why we always group roadmaps by themes over features.

In agile development, features change throughout as you learn. But the order of themes remains relevant.

Here’s are several examples of how themes tie together must-have features:

Set-up the project for continuous success, building a strong basis for future development

  • App Base Set-Up
  • App Design System

Help users to get immediate benefit from the app

  • User Onboarding
  • Preferences

Help customers to find the perfect product in the least amount of time.

  • Personalised Home Screen
  • Product Category Screens
  • Individual Product Listings
  • User Reviews

Focusing on the above themes rather than the individual features helps you keep focus on the outcomes your solution needs to support.

Using the example above, during the scoping phase of a development sprint we might have found that integrating with the legacy e-commerce was more complex than initially anticipated.

This changes the priority of the individual feature but the theme of helping customers find the perfect product in the least amount of time remains a critical step in the early stages of the roadmap.

Best Practices for Building a Roadmap

Building and maintaining product roadmaps is an ongoing process to embark upon with your team. There are a few simple ways to set yourself up for success:

  • Only include the information that’s essential to your roadmap’s audience
  • Balance short-term focuses with your long-term vision for the product
  • Review the roadmap regularly as you discover more during development
  • Make sure the roadmap is open and accessible to everyone necessary
  • Refer back to the roadmap during discussions to ensure everyone’s still aligned.

Interested in building out a roadmap for your product? Get in touch to find out more about our discovery process.

The output of our discovery workshop is a roadmap that uses the prioritisation method we’ve discussed to highlight the biggest opportunities available to you.