Radically Honest Blog

The Top 5 Benefits of a Product Roadmap

As dry as it may sound to some, nothing says “the ultimate strategy” quite like a product roadmap. 

It won’t be as riveting as conversation around artificial intelligence or machine learning, for example, but it’s one of those practical tools that is bound to stand the test of time.

Product roadmaps don’t pit the journey against the destination – they bridge the two so there’s a lot less aimless wandering and more of a plan to reach that peak.

In this candid exploration, we’re going to: 

  • Explore the predicament of why you’d even bother creating a product roadmap
  • Check out all the goodies that come with a product roadmap
  • Frankly and honestly consider those pesky potential downsides

Why Have a Product Roadmap in the First Place?

You know those headscratchers that product managers grapple with all the time? That’s right, like, “Who on earth is our customer?”, “How do we set priorities?” and, in this case, “Should we create a product roadmap?”

It can be tempting just to shoo away the roadmap as just another nag in your overflowing to-do list, but what if we told you it’s actually a surefire way to tackle all those other headscratchers?

This seemingly innocuous document acts as a blueprint of your vision, where your product is heading, and how you’re going to get there. It’s every why, how, and when question answered. 

With every individual on your team able to see exactly what’s going on and what will go on, it’s putting everyone on the literal and figurative same page.

The 6 Benefits of Having a Product Roadmap

Here are six transformational benefits of crafting your product roadmap.

Illuminates the Product Vision

A product roadmap essentially tethers each great idea to a concrete step so that these ideas aren’t simply floating around in the ether. It’s easy to picture your product as your industry’s next Apple Vision Pro, but without a tangible plan, you might as well be trying to build a Mars Rover with a bucket of random LEGOs.

Let’s illustrate this with a hypothetical example where a team is trying to build a telehealth app. If the goal is to become a revolutionary in the telemedicine field, such a lofty objective would need to be broken up into several phases and parts to make any sort of headway. A product roadmap can dissect distinct tasks by timeline, theme (like UX, UI, or privacy concerns), and team so everyone knows exactly what they’re doing and when to do it.

Manages Stakeholder Expectations

Being part of a product team means being much like the ringmaster of stakeholders. Each stakeholder group has its own unique perspectives and demands, where investors will look in one direction and marketing teams focus on another way. Having a product roadmap gives you the chance to avoid repetitive questions, unnecessary standups, and more. Just simply lay out the roadmap, and everyone can see the progress and direction in which the product is moving. 

If your product development is most clearly marked by milestones like alpha releases and beta testing, for example, they can be placed on a roadmap as expectation markers. Under these umbrella markers, plenty of other tasks can branch out and take shelter. In the beta testing phase, these subtasks might include user group testing and marketing content creation.

Guides Resource Allocation

You’ve got dedicated teams, fantastic technological assets, and some unbelievably creative minds on deck – but what’s the use of all of these great resources if you don’t know what to do with them?

Rather than have you throwing darts in the dark, a roadmap will help you turn on the lights and aim right for the bullseye. It’s a robust tool to get you to figure out the “how” and “when.” This means knowing where precisely your resources (time, manpower, or budget) should be channeled for maximum effect.

Looking back at the telehealth app example, maybe you’ve decided that you’ll spend Q1 all on user research before you go ahead and designate Q2 to UX and UI design. The situation calls for you to allocate all your top researchers and their efforts to deep market studies in Q1 while redirecting your focus to UX and UI designers and the tools they need to succeed.

Improves Prioritization and Decision-Making

With so many features and priorities on the go, the most obvious purpose of a roadmap is to help prioritize and organize your entire strategy based on what’s most important.

More often than not, working on a product results in a hurricane of ideas that doesn’t ever stop swirling. One second, you’re thinking about the aesthetics of your product, and the next, about how it functions. What on earth do you tackle first, and why? 

Creating a product roadmap helps put things into perspective. And to go even further, there are different types of product roadmap prioritization methods you can choose from. This Kano Model example above prioritizes each app feature based on feature types – such as Must-Have or Indifferent, so you can analyze their perceived value and filter them based on importance.

Directs Focus on Customer Desires

Before you even thought up a complete product idea, you likely spent a ridiculous amount of time figuring out who your customer is – hopefully, anyway. Because without customers, there isn’t much need for your product in the first place. 

The product roadmap charts a clear course of action based on what customers really want from you and what they’ve said honestly about your product. This document essentially outlines and prioritizes those features and improvements that resonate most with your clientele.

Rule of thumb? Don’t simply include a feature because a majority of team members think it would be cool. You want to direct your focus towards raw and real customer desires, such as security features or a buttery smooth UI.

Some of the Downsides of Having a Product Roadmap

Well, there’s the good, but let’s not forget about the bad and the ugly.

Product roadmaps can come with their downsides. Just like with a personal to-do list, it can be a letdown when you’ve got a number of tasks locked in, and you don’t complete them in time. These unmet expectations are an unfortunate evil for roadmaps. It’s highly possible that you were too ambitious or not ambitious enough when setting timelines.

There’s also the risk of becoming too stuck into a plan and throwing all that valuable flexibility out the window. If your roadmap becomes the end-all or be-all and you can’t adapt to market changes or changing customer needs, you’ll set yourself up for product failure.

Lastly, roadmaps could promote that dreaded tunnel vision. While some sort of focused approach is good, it’s important to stop to smell the roses. You’ll need to recognize when new challenges or opportunities arise or risk ignoring red flags and missing out on game-changing innovations.

The PM’s Hot Take

Product roadmaps could be your best friend or your worst enemy. Although they’ve certainly got more good qualities than bad, they require a level of maturity to understand and leverage. Roadmaps help structure your wild ideas and ambitions into a plan of action, but they aren’t rigid documents either – they’re dynamic and able to change. If you’re following your roadmap like a religious scripture, you’ll put yourself on a path to nowhere. Want to be successful in product management? Understand when to follow the map and when to stray away from it.


Ready to gain access to some next-level product strategy? Get your free trial of Fibery today and see how our integrative suite delivers one-of-a-kind product development. 

Interested in learning more stuff? Don’t forget to check out our blog for more insider tips and industry insights on product management.

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