Table of Content

What is a Product Roadmap? A Definitive Guide

Updated on May 14, 2024By

As a Product Manager, you’d want to develop the best product possible. This pursuit of perfection will leave your head swimming with ideas with features. However, the reality of deadlines, budgets, and limited team capabilities can soon come crashing in. That’s where creating a product roadmap comes to your rescue.

This guide will explain what a product roadmap is and will walk you through the process of creating one.

What is a Product Roadmap?

Product Roadmap, or Product Development Roadmap, is a strategic planning tool that visually illustrates the vision, direction, and evolution of a product over time.

Think of it as a metaphorical map that denotes the current positioning of your product as the starting point and the future aspirations as the destination. The connector between the two points forms the roadmap.

It is a guide that charts the path to be taken, who gets to drive at different points, development milestones, decision forks, possible halts or diversions, and when to switch gears.

A product roadmap typically comprises:

  • Timeline: A temporal depiction of the time frames or dates by which a task must be finished.
  • Feature: An essential function that the product must perform or a primary problem that it must solve. 
  • Enhancements: A subsequent feature that will improve the product. The development team typically sifts through user feedback to identify and prioritize new features for product enhancement. If your project is developing an app the enhancement might be adding a video call SDK to it.
  • Initiatives: It displays how features, tasks, and projects further project goals. They maintain focus on the broader scope of work.
  • Dependencies: An internal or external factor that may consequentially affect the development timeline or the implementation of a specific feature or enhancement.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: The team assigned to a task. It ascribes product ownership for a limited period and describes the team’s responsibilities and deliverables.
  • Releases: A chronological schedule of product release plans mapped against a feature or a bundle of features.
  • Goals: The larger business or product goal that the roadmap aims to achieve. It offers context for planned features and releases.

Of course, the above product roadmap template of elements is indicative. The components may increase or decrease depending on the industry, nature of the product, size of the product team, specific needs, and other variables.

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In fact, even the type of roadmap may vary, as we’re about to discover in the next section.

Types of Product Roadmap

Every product roadmap is different. Here’s a table that sheds light on the different types of product roadmaps:

Product Roadmap TypeDescriptionTypical Use Case
Feature RoadmapsFocuses on various features to be rolled out for the product within a defined period or in a particular order.Ideal for feature-rich products with continuous feature updates.
Capabilities RoadmapsAims to develop specific capabilities or competencies within a product over a period of time.Ideal for products where capabilities are prioritized over features.
Goal RoadmapsMaps the smaller underlying company goals that contribute to the overarching business objective.Ideal for communicating how the product helps meet organizational goals.
Time RoadmapsA timeline of deadlines or release dates corresponding to certain outcomes or feature launches.Ideal for time-sensitive, tight-schedule projects where the product or a feature can be a competitive differentiator.
Release RoadmapsA chronological plan of the product releases with specifications defined for each update – features, fixes, improvements, etc.Ideal for establishing long-term product goals by outlining the plan for subsequent releases.
Technology RoadmapsOutlines the specific technologies or technical upgrades that will be integrated with the core product.Ideal for tech-centric products that must upgrade with new technologies.
Sales and Marketing RoadmapsAligns the sales and marketing plans with the product development cycle.Ideal for coordinating promotional sales and marketing campaigns for promoting key features or upgrades.
Portfolio RoadmapsA high-level view of the different product development projects operating under a single portfolio.Ideal for bunching and managing multiple product development projects to meet overarching business goals.

How to Create a Product Roadmap? A Step-by-Step Guide

Since you’ve got a hold of what is a product roadmap, its various types, the associated benefits, and the roadmap owner, let’s delve into how to build a product roadmap. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Create a Product Vision Highlighting The Value Proposition

This is the planning stage of product roadmap development. To document the product vision and its value proposition, you need to have grassroots-level insights into customer pain points. 

For instance, your customers may find it hard to connect with your business’s customer service team. Take heed of this problem and work out its implications and how it affects your business. Perhaps you’re losing on sales opportunities. Or maybe it is lowering satisfaction levels. Rather than devising a solution just yet, focus on the problem statement.

To achieve this understanding, you will resort to various business activities such as market research, competitor analysis, purpose and impact matrix, identifying USPs, and listing competitive differentiators.

You can use Nifty’s Docs to note down all your ideas, and just like Google Docs, you can comment and right away ask your co-workers for their opinions:

Step 2: Solution Identification, Collaborate and Brainstorm

Now that you have a holistic, 360-degree view of the problem, you enter the next stage of the product roadmap, the ideation stage. Get all the stakeholders on board and put your creative and thinking caps on. Bounce off ideas with cross-functional teams to identify possible solutions to the pain points discovered.

You can simply head over to the discussion board in Nifty and put down your idea for all the team members from a particular project portfolio to comment on and share back their thoughts:

The collaborative work environment will foster divergent thoughts and opinions that help you think outside the box. Discuss every idea without any judgment, and when you have whittled down the list, then identify the best possible solution to your problem.

Continuing with the above example of inaccessibility, some would recommend developing a self-help kiosk, while others may advocate for omnichannel servicing. However, you may collectively decide that a chatbot is the need of the hour.

Step 3: Estimate Creation

Sure, a chatbot sounds like a great idea to make your business more accessible to customers. But do you have the development team for it? Does the team possess the required technical capabilities to develop the desired solution or features?

Do you have the engineering resource availability? Would the marketing and sales team have the bandwidth to get involved in chatbot development? How will you train and onboard your GTM teams?

To answer these questions with data, you can leverage project management tools like Nifty, which offers smart reports. You can simply browse through reports and identify your team member’s availability, their dependencies, and much more:

This stage is the confluence of what you want versus what you can feasibly obtain.

Develop a realistic estimate that matches the business goal and the overarching product strategy.

Step 4: Feature Prioritization

Even though you may have grounded your expectations in reality, it is still not practical to launch the entire product in one go. The best approach would be to release a basic product that addresses the core customer pain points and roll out subsequent feature updates and upgrades.

However, to do this, businesses must prepare a priority-based order for the different features. Identify how these goals affect the strategic goals and their impact on the customer experience.

Leveraging tools like Nifty while following the MoSCoW frameworks can lend additional clarity to the priority matrix.

So, in the case of chatbots, you may launch a basic text-based chatbot first that operates using a menu to address FAQs. You can then release additional features and enhancements to make the chatbot fully functional.

Step 5: Continuous Development and Optimization

If you’re looking to develop a lasting product with evergreen features, then continuous development should be the heart of your product development roadmap.

It adds an agile flavor to the product development cycle and lends flexibility to the product and its development style.

As a result, the product or the product’s development process can quickly adapt to changing conditions to minimize disruptions, incrementally improve, and capitalize on opportunities.

You can use tools like Nifty to create a product roadmap with Milestones and switch to a calendar view to see the expected product releases month-over-month and week-over-week:

calendar view in Nifty
Calendar view in Nifty

So, every launch or feature release should be followed by user feedback collection. User insights, especially from your high-value customers, can drive an agile product roadmap or feature enhancements in line with the pressing requirements.

It’s also important to check the industry and market pulse to pivot in response to external factors.

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Who is Responsible for Creating a Product Roadmap?

At first glance, the answer to “Who creates a product management roadmap?” is clear. Naturally, it is the Product Manager.

However, that would be an oversimplification.

Although the Product Manager does indeed take the lead, product roadmaps are a result of the collective efforts of all the stakeholders involved. Everyone, from business executives to high-value users to cross-functional product teams, contributes to product roadmaps.

Why Are Product Roadmaps Important?

Product roadmaps are similar to navigational maps. They help you overcome roadblocks, plan better, visualize progress, and more. Here’s a more comprehensive look at what product roadmaps bring to the table:

  • Strategic Alignment: A product roadmap brings product owners, managers, teams, and all other stakeholders on the same page. Such parity and alignment ensure that everyone shares a common vision for the product. 
  • Transparency: Product Managers can use roadmaps to communicate product strategy, development plans, and milestones to internal teams and external stakeholders. Such transparency builds trust and facilitates collaboration.
  • Feature Prioritization: By measuring feature impact against business objectives while also keeping an eye on development timelines and team capabilities, product roadmaps make it possible to prioritize features, functionalities, and releases.
  • Resource Optimization: product roadmaps offer a high-level view of all the activities, aiding product managers in effectively planning and allocating resources based on priorities and dependencies.
  • Risk Management: A top-level view of the product development process also makes it easier to identify potential roadblocks, risks, or dependencies that can present challenges. Such foresight empowers product managers to implement risk mitigation strategies.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: The product roadmap involves all internal and external stakeholders, from C-suite executives to high-value customers to investors. Such active engagement maintains interest, retains buy-in, and manages expectations.
  • Flexibility: Each product roadmap works around the assumption that it is malleable. Any change in priorities, business goals, or market trends can introduce changes to the roadmap, which must accommodate and respond to these shifts with strategy adjustment.
  • Direction: A well-designed product roadmap offers a clear vision of the final product or at least the next better version. This goal-led action offers direction to the team’s efforts while keeping up the morale and motivation levels.
  • User Satisfaction: Roadmaps improve user satisfaction in two ways. First, it couples features with customer expectations and requirements, which enhances the user experience. Next, it takes into account their feedback. Acting on reasonable suggestions makes them feel involved and valued and drives satisfaction levels.
  • Progress Visualization: A product roadmap is a visual illustration of progress. By benchmarking planned trajectory against actual milestones and timelines, product managers can realistically assess performance and execute appropriate interventions for the product team.

Product Roadmap Example

Since we’re so hung on the idea of chatbot design and deployment, we decided to create a real-world product roadmap example for this project for a multinational company.

Let’s take a look at the timeline and the detailed roadmap:

Q1: Basic Chatbot Functionality [Release V.1.0]


  • Basic text-based interactions
  • Accurate responses to FAQs
  • Escalate complex queries
  • Multimedia support.


  • Initial user testing
  • NLP improvements
  • Real-time information updates


  • FAQ collection and database creation
  • Competitor analysis
  • Developing user onboarding strategy

Q2: Offer Multilingual Support [Release V.1.1]


  • Language recognition and language switching
  • Real-time translation of multilingual conversations
  • Multilingual FAQs
  • The cultural context for sensitivity


  • Improved conversation flows while switching languages
  • Enriching the FAQ database through multilingual user contributions
  • Contextual and cultural multilingual sentiment analysis tools


  • Conducting surveys to understand language preferences
  • Deploy localization using regional content, translations, localized marketing assets, software localization, etc.

Q3: Integration With Third-Party Systems [Release V.2.0]


Integrations with:

  • CRM solutions for customer information access
  • Internal and external knowledge bases for accurate and up-to-date resolutions
  • eCommerce platform for order-related inquiries and updates
  • Social media for large-scale user engagement and customer support


  • Hyper-personalization based on CRM data and purchase history
  • Robust security through multi-factor user authentication
  • Contextual responses


  • Detailed scrutiny and testing of security, system integrity, and compliance
  • Explore other integration opportunities to expand functionalities
  • Cross-functional workshops to identify more opportunities or gaps

Q4: Voice-Enabled Chatbots [Release V.3.0]


  • Voice-activated user commands and voice recognition
  • Speech synthesis to generate natural responses
  • Multilingual voice and accent support [Dependency: Release of multilingual support in Release V.1.1]
  • Voice as biometric to secure access


  • ML-driven voice command optimizations
  • Special consideration for accessibility
  • Voice modulation and sentiment analysis
  • Speech customization by pitch, tone, cadence, etc.


  • Perform usability testing across focus groups
  • Implement feedback loops for improving voice interactions
  • Conduct rigorous testing for securing voice-based commands
  • Develop guides and tutorials to improve voice interaction adoption


The best method to quantify business goals would be to express them as SMART parameters. Using this methodology, the goal for chatbot development would be:

  • Achieving 90% accuracy in comprehending and responding to user queries.
  • Driving customer engagements by 20% through personalized interactions.
  • Deploying chatbot across multiple channels like website, social media, mobile app, etc.

To effectively do that, you can leverage Nifty’s Goal feature:

Best Practices for Building Product Roadmaps

Armed with all the knowledge about product roadmap development, you may be rearing to take charge of your internal roadmap as well as external product roadmaps. But before you get started, here are some excellent tips, tricks, and best practices to elevate your product roadmap game:

  • Rather than reinventing the wheel or building roadmaps from scratch, use product roadmap templates to customize and get started.
  • Treat the product roadmap as a living document. Maintain flexibility to adjust it to the changing times and customer or user feedback.
  • Conduct regular roadmap reviews to track progress, redefine or validate priorities, and incorporate fresh information. Involve key stakeholders during this review.
  • Identify dependencies while creating product roadmap and actively manage them to prevent bottlenecks and delays.
  • Set up clear channels of communication to enable seamless collaboration between cross-functional teams.
  • Document everything. Whether it is the product vision or the roadmap itself, commit it to paper (or a digital tool) and obtain buy-in from all stakeholders.


In summary, product roadmaps are an indispensable tool required to navigate the dynamic world of product development. By connecting ideation to realization, it is a roadmap for the product’s success. So, what are you waiting for? Use the guide above to build your best product ever, and make sure you use tools like Nifty for your assistance.


What is on a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a visual illustration of the product’s strategic development or improvement plan against a projected trajectory. These roadmaps typically contain:

  • Timeline
  • Feature
  • Enhancements
  • Initiatives
  • Dependencies
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Releases
  • Goals

What are the stages of a product roadmap?

The stages of a product roadmap vary from development cycles, product, development style, type of roadmap, industry, etc. That said, it typically involves planning, design, development, testing, and launch. Each stage carries with it specific features, initiatives, timelines, and goals.

What is the purpose of product roadmaps?

The primary objective of product roadmaps is to serve as a strategic planning and deployment tool to communicate a common product vision and evolution. It brings all internal and external stakeholders to the same page, and such alignment and goal-oriented direction ensures success.

What is a product roadmap in agile?

Since agile development is flexible and iterative, a product roadmap is a dynamic tool that outlines such a developmental approach. It emphasizes adaptability to changing requirements or feedback, iterative and incremental delivery of features, and overall alignment with the product vision.

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