If you are a What is a product manager? A product manager is the person who’s job is to ensure a product’s overall success and leads the teams related to the product. This title…, you probably know the most tedious part of your job. It is perhaps the product road mapping. But it is accurate to say that product road mapping is a crucial part of every product manager’s role.
In this article, I will cover some of the best road mapping tools for you to make product road mapping more bearable than what it is now.
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:
- 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 visually.
- Contains the imperative information to coordinate stakeholders
- 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 the 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 will it advance in the future. Time-based road maps separates tasks based on milestones, dates, and deadlines.
- Mixed roadmaps: As the name suggests, mixed roadmaps have a little bit of everything like a mixed soup. Mixed road maps contain elements of both progress and time-based roadmaps.
Why should you plan the product roadmap?
If this product road mapping 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 road mapping, teams can save on 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 road map helps your team align on their goals because the road maps’ 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 on their strategic analysis to discover hidden gems and opportunities. Product maps supported by the 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 to it?
Who will be responsible for the roadmap?
Even though the many teams inside the organization use the road maps, the responsibility of creating and maintaining it 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 road map. In larger companies, other departments other than the product team can be involved with the road map.
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.
What do you aim to show with the roadmap?
Road maps can be utilized to demonstrate several things. Every What is SaaS? SaaS is the abbreviation of Software as a Service, and refers to a software licensing model based on user subscription with monthly or annually payments. The model… company uses road maps 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 road map? How is it going to benefit the organization? Is it going to be a depository for your product to team to dump their ideas, or is 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.
Who can access to it?
The product teams mostly use the product road map, but other teams can benefit from it as well. In some organizations, every department has access to a road map. Some are even taking a one step further and allowing their customers to access their road map.
The 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 2021!
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 in 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 road map 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 feedbacks 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.
Roadmunk is a roadmap tool that enables you to create flexible roadmaps.
It provides three types of roadmaps:
- Timeline: looks like the conventional roadmap. You can see your objectives, projects, and initiatives.
- Swimlane: This is perfect for agile teams because this roadmap allows more streamlined views.
- Master: Is the name suggests this is a master level roadmap for advanced users. This is a perfect roadmap type for combining multiple roadmaps to have a holistic view on your product.
What is unique about this tool is that it offers you a way of combining multiple roadmaps created by different teams and bring them all together in the master view.
As for the sharing, you can create different roadmap views and share it as a PNG or host online, depending on your preference.
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.
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 road maps, and then you have a whole lot of 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 road map.
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 mountain top enjoying the perfect view (no internet!!!)
If you are looking for a quick and easy roadmapping, look no further Airfocus is here to make you fly! This tool will make your road up and running in no time.
It has integration 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 tools has limited capability compared to the other tools listed in this article.