Just like project management tools, product roadmap tools are TRENDING nowadays.
‘Cause these digital tools act as a solution for product teams that can turn objectives into visual plans to make progress tracking effortless.
Important for product owners, product roadmap software can make or break a business as it’s the single source that helps internal teams align with business goals to centralize your product strategy no matter the challenges that come up along the way.
Whether you tried some roadmap planning tools before or are in immediate need of one, you’ve come to the RIGHT PLACE.
Here I’ll tell you my favorite roadmap planning software tools that you can start using right after reading this article, but let’s start with what product roadmapping is.
What is a product roadmap?
A product roadmap is a process of guiding the direction of your product over time. You can think product roadmap as a real map that leads you to your desired outcomes. A practical product roadmap contains strategic documents about what teams are building, why, and how they are building the product.
Product roadmap has several purposes:
- It sets your priorities so that you do not lose your focus and chase many rabbits at the same time.
- It allows you to map your strategy and vision and demonstrate it visually.
- It contains the imperative information to coordinate stakeholders.
- It keeps the details of how you will achieve your vision.
Product roadmap examples
Product roadmaps are mainly used in software development companies. The main value proposition is smoother collaboration, effective progress tracking, and visualization of the product strategy.
There are three main product roadmaps:
👉 Progress-based roadmaps: This type of roadmap is all about categorizing actions into groups based on the progress achieved, just like how you have a status for each task on Trello (completed, in progress, and backlog).
👉 Time-based roadmaps: Superb method for visualizing how your product evolved in time and how it will advance in the future. Time-based roadmaps separate tasks based on milestones, dates, and deadlines.
👉 Mixed roadmaps: As the name suggests, mixed roadmaps have a little bit of everything like mixed soup. Mixed roadmaps contain elements of both progress and time-based roadmaps.
Why should you plan the product roadmap?
If this product roadmapping is incredibly boring, then why do we do it? Let’s explain why we do it and why you should take it seriously unless you want your product to be lost.
Product roadmaps are a crucial part of the product development journey for several reasons.
First and foremost, product roadmaps are essential because it allows communication between internal and external stakeholders by communicating important product priorities so that everyone can understand. Basically, the roadmap is like a middleman serving both external and internal stakeholders.
With effective product roadmapping, teams can save time by reducing the number of sprint meetings they do because product roadmap gives a comprehensive view of the product and key priorities.
The product roadmap helps your team align on their goals because the roadmaps’ comprehensive structure clearly highlights how priorities link with the vision and strategy. It also increases the various stakeholders’ efficiency by providing them insight into the product priorities and incentivizes them to contribute.
Product roadmaps are also used to pinpoint the positioning of the product. Marketing and product teams, along with the management team, use product maps in their strategic analysis to discover hidden gems and opportunities. Product maps supported by strategic frameworks such as SWOT analysis or Porter’s Five Forces can be an effective weapon for your team to determine which areas of your product you should focus on fighting competition.
When it comes to the product plan, there are several things you should consider:
- Who will be responsible for the roadmap
- What do you aim to show with the roadmap?
- Who can access it?
Let’s answer them one by one:
1- Who will be responsible for the roadmap?
Even though many teams inside the organization use roadmaps, the responsibility of creating and maintaining them belongs to the product team. In most cases, the product owner will be responsible for the task.
Depending on the company’s size, one person, such as a product manager or several persons, can be tasked with maintaining the roadmap. In larger companies, departments other than the product team can be involved with the roadmap.
It is imperative to know how many team members will be responsible for the roadmap because, based on this information, you can choose the best tool that fits you.
2- What do you aim to show with the roadmap?
Roadmaps can be utilized to demonstrate several things. Every SaaS company uses roadmaps for different purposes. While some roadmaps are prepared meticulously with a very high detail level, some are just only showing the planned steps for the product.
In the end, it’s all about deciding: What is the goal of the product roadmap? How is it going to benefit the organization? Is it going to be a depository for your product team to dump their ideas, or is it going to be a way of communicating with the stakeholders to show them what to expect?
Once you know the purpose of your roadmap, you can choose the best-suited tool for your goals.
3- Who can access it?
The product teams mostly use the product roadmap, but other teams can benefit from it as well. In some organizations, every department has access to a roadmap. Some are even taking one step further and allowing their customers to access their roadmap.
The 6 best product roadmap tools for SaaS
Now it is the moment you have been waiting for!
Time to share the best product roadmap tools in 2022!
1. monday.com – all-in-one solution with several product roadmap planners that will help you bring your A game in roadmap planning
Well, you already know that I’m a big fan of monday.com‘s kanban boards as they can present tasks better than no other views — IF you disagree, don’t worry because it has multiple custom views you can use to display all three types of roadmaps that I explained above.
From Gantt charts to customizable roadmaps, this powerful tool can help you visualize any project roadmap that puts forward the basic plan as a single source of truth so that cross-functional teams can agree upon business vision and business strategy without any hassle.
Moreover, you’ll be able to create visual roadmaps that lay out the product vision, custom workflow priorities, and strategic direction altogether, which will be like a treasure for product managers.
With monday.com as your roadmap planning tool, you can:
- plan, strategize, and deliver the project of your choice in a flash via the pre-built templates—which can be customized as well
- visualize your project with colorful Gantt charts to track and manage with ease
- reshape and monitor your task dependencies, task lists, task milestones, and many more throughout the project lifecycle
- make use of all kinds of dashboards by turning insights into data that will serve as your guide for your future business plans
- oversee your team’s workload to assign resources accordingly, thanks to real-time data
- use popular integrations to take your custom roadmap to the next level
- and make use of the key features of monday.com (that I’ve briefly mentioned above) while adding custom items to your project
2. HubSpot – customer management tool that can create beautiful roadmaps outlining all product features
HubSpot has always been a game-changer for many; simple product roadmaps are no exception.
Having several features that can help you fetch customer insights to gather them in order to improve the customer experience while generating a lean product roadmap, this popular tool can definitely be a big help for establishing and pursuing goals.
With its product roadmap templates, HubSpot provides users with a visual overview of the future product functionality, strategic plan, core features, and timelines, AND sheds light on the product development process.
Other than building roadmaps, HubSpot as a CRM enables the following:
- constant contact and keep track of everyone, who interacts with your business, in your contact lists
- tracking of each tendency and activity of your customer base with calls, emails, and more
- a clear view of unlimited contacts based on how further they have come in their journey, especially the sales funnel and marketing funnel
- integrations with other effective business tools to reach contacts, particularly throughout the sales process
- live chat to help your contacts’ issues and build long-lasting relationships
3. Aha! – product development tool showcasing product plans for product development teams
Aha! is one of my favorite product mapping tools, with over 250.000 product teams worldwide using it.
I can’t do it without saying this, but the coolest thing for me about this product is the name of the product. Kudos to the founders for coming up with such a cool name.
For the roadmapping, the tool offers you a couple of ready templates to play with. After choosing the one you fancy, you can start creating a roadmap with drag-and-drop style. There is no restriction when it comes to sharing your roadmap; depending on your preference, you can send it as a PDF or host it on a secure web.
Apart from the roadmapping you can also use the tool to gather insight by collecting customer feedback then you can use those feedback to create user stories.
Aha! has tons of features, but this raises a problem. The tool can be complex for some users, and there is no doubt that the learning curve is steep. If you have time to discover all of the features that this product offers, then this tool is for you. If time is not abundant, then you should look for something else.
4. Roadmunk – product roadmap tool that gives you a complete overview of all the roadmaps teams make along the road
Roadmunk is a roadmap tool that enables you to create flexible roadmaps while providing three types of product roadmaps:
- Timeline: This one looks like the conventional roadmap. You can see your objectives, projects, and initiatives altogether.
- Swimlane: This one is perfect for agile teams because it allows more streamlined views.
- Master: As the name suggests, this is a master-level roadmap for advanced users. It’s the perfect roadmap type for combining multiple roadmaps to have a holistic view of your product.
What is unique about this tool is that it offers you a way of combining multiple roadmaps created by different teams and bringing them all together in the master view. As for the sharing, you can create different roadmap views and share them as a PNG or host online, depending on your preference.
One downside is that Roadmunk focuses solely on roadmapping, so you will need other tools to collect customer feedback and create strategies. This will not be an issue for enterprise-level customers, but if you are a startup company like us, you might not want to use multiple tools for roadmapping and collecting feedback.
5. ProductPlan – dedicated roadmap tool with a clean user interface for creating internal roadmaps
ProductPlan is really good for creating visually stunning roadmaps to wow your stakeholders. If you consistently present your roadmap to external stakeholders, then this is going to be your tool.
ProductPlan empowers you with the no-code drag-and-drop interface. You can easily create roadmaps, and then you have many customization options, including but not limited to color-coding and adjusting the granularity of your timeline.
You can share your roadmaps by creating different versions with different levels of detail. This means that you can create different versions depending on whom you are presenting to without worrying about creating a new roadmap.
One thing I don’t like about this tool is the fact that it is web-based, so you can not edit your roadmap offline, which is bad for folks like me who want to work on their roadmap while resting on a mountaintop enjoying the perfect view (no internet connection!).
6. airfocus – great product management tool that makes aligning easier, thanks to its visual product roadmaps
If you are looking for a quick and easy roadmapping, look no further ’cause airfocus is here to make you fly!
This tool will make your road up and running in no time. It has integrations with popular tools such as Jira, Trello, GitHub, and more. On top of this, airfocus’s drag-and-drop interface makes everything so much faster.
You have a couple of views to choose from, including the Gantt and Kanban. You can also opt for multi-dimensional charts to view your key priorities.
airfocus is good if you are only looking for a product roadmapping feature. Additionally, you can have custom scoring and weighing for feature requests and ideas. It is worth mentioning that this tool has limited functionality compared to the other tools listed in this article.
Roadmap planning isn’t the one to leave product managers’ side anytime soon; thus, it’s better for them and all teams to find one tool that they all can make use of collaboratively.
That’s this article’s purpose, helping you find a tool that will outline any task, date, or assignee, and eventually help you achieve your business goals.
So, give this one a read and try out the tools mentioned to find the one you’ll benefit from!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best tool for roadmap?
For roadmapping, the best tools are monday.com, HubSpot, and Aha! as they have all the features a lean product roadmapping tool should have.
What is a roadmap tool?
A roadmap tool is a platform that clearly displays the company vision and product direction for every team (sometimes even external stakeholders) to check and align accordingly.
What is a roadmap template?
A roadmap template is a template that includes all the necessary elements to visualize the company’s scope, vision, and direction that it’s supposed to take over time.
How do I make an agile roadmap?
To make an agile roadmap, you should adopt a roadmapping tool that could provide you with the necessary items and templates to get you started. Then, fill in the blanks accordingly by talking to specific departments, and finalize it.