Radically Honest Blog

Engineering Roadmap vs. Product Roadmap: Which Is Better for You?

Product and engineering roadmaps are blueprints for successful product development. They are essential tools for outlining both the strategic vision and the nitty-gritty technical execution involved in bringing your product to life.

But not many product managers know the differences between those two formats. Well, that ends today.

In this post, we’ll unpack:

  • What product and engineering roadmaps are.
  • Their key differences and similarities.
  • How to leverage them effectively in your product development process.

Let’s dive in and get your product journey on track!

What is an engineering roadmap?

An engineering roadmap is the outline for the technical implementation plan for the product. 

You should think of it as the “how” and “when” of building the product. The technical roadmap coordinates engineering efforts, tracks progress, and lets you identify potential technical hurdles.

It’s an internal document serving technical teams in your company, such as Engineering, Technical Leadership, and Product Management. 

The content of a technical roadmap includes:

  • Technical dependencies and architecture
  • Infrastructure components and upgrades
  • Specific code-level tasks or sprints
  • Detailed timelines (often weeks or shorter sprints)

Because only internal teams are using it, this type of roadmap usually includes highly technical language. Everyone understands the internal jargon in it, so there’s no need for a robust explanation.

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is the outline for the strategic product vision and high-level goals.

Think of it as the “what” and “why” of product development. Product roadmap usually includes:

  • Features and major releases
  • Market problems the product will solve
  • Strategic themes or objectives
  • Timelines (often quarters or broader periods)

Its primary purpose is to set direction for everyone involved in the building process, guide resource allocation, and prioritize product-related tasks.

You will also use it externally to generate excitement and buy-in from the stakeholders, so you need to avoid technical jargon.

What are the main differences between a product roadmap and an engineering roadmap?

Here’s a breakdown of the primary differences between product and engineering roadmaps:

Key Differences

FeatureProduct RoadmapEngineering Roadmap
FocusStrategic vision, market needs, “why” and “what”Technical execution, “how” and “when”
AudienceExecutives, investors, customers, cross-functional teamsEngineering teams, technical leads, product managers
ContentHigh-level features, themes, market problemsTechnical tasks, dependencies, architecture, sprints
Level of DetailGeneral, avoids technical jargonSpecific, technical language
TimeframeTypically quarters or broader periodsOften shorter (weeks, sprints)
PurposeAlign stakeholders, set vision, guide prioritizationCoordinate development, track progress, manage resources

The core difference between a product roadmap and an engineering roadmap is its purpose. The product roadmap is an outward-facing document that communicates the product’s direction and value proposition.

On the other hand, an engineering roadmap is an internal technical plan that translates the product roadmap into actionable steps for the development team.

For example, a product roadmap might include tasks such as:

  • Create a leadership dashboard for an HR SaaS
  • Add “Invite your team” functionality for a project management app
  • Adding package tracking functionality to an e-commerce app

It doesn’t get to why or how you’re going to do it. Instead, it’s an overview of features prioritized for the upcoming months.

The engineering roadmap will discuss the specifics. For example, it may include the technology for specific features or specify the number of people needed for a specific project.

Another major difference between the product and the engineering roadmaps is the timeframe they describe.

For the technical roadmap, the timeframe is short, usually divided into weeks or sprints. Conversely, the product roadmap highlights the long-term vision – usually divided into quarters or years.

The last key difference between both types of roadmaps is the people who will see it.

As the name suggests, the engineering roadmap will be used by engineers – or any technically advanced people inside your team.

The product roadmap is much easier to understand and available to other teams (such as marketing, customer service, etc). 

Sometimes, companies make their product roadmaps public to communicate their plans easily with customers:

Supahub is one example of a company having a public roadmap
Supahub is one example of a company having a public roadmap

What are the similarities between a product roadmap and an engineering roadmap?

While significantly different, both roadmaps share a few common goals. Here’s the breakdown of the similarities between product and engineering roadmaps:

Foundation in the Product Vision: 

Both roadmaps stem from the product’s overarching vision and should align with the company’s goals, customer needs, and market opportunities.

Let’s say you plan to implement chat functionality for your app. The product roadmap will explain why you chose this feature over other requests. The engineering roadmap, however, will outline the step-by-step process of implementing it. 

Nonetheless, it all stems from the same source – customer needs, market research, or competitive analysis.

Time-based Structure: 

Both roadmaps use timelines to outline milestones and dependencies. Product roadmaps might have broader timeframes (quarters), while engineering roadmaps break things down into shorter sprints or weeks.


Both roadmaps reflect prioritized initiatives. The product roadmap prioritizes features based on market value, while the engineering roadmap prioritizes technical tasks for implementation.

Communication Tools: 

Both roadmaps are essential communication tools that facilitate discussions and transparency among different teams.

When to use product vs. engineering roadmap

Here’s a breakdown of when to use product roadmaps and engineering roadmaps, along with some specific scenarios:

When to Use a Product Roadmap

The most vital use case for a product roadmap is strategic planning. When you define the overall direction of a product, a product roadmap will help you organize all the goals, market needs. Plus, it makes prioritizing them easy.

One of the most common places to use product roadmaps is board meetings. A product roadmap would present a strategic overview to the Board of Directors, emphasizing market impact and future milestones.

Because of the low amount of technical language and jargon, you can use the product roadmap across teams. 

For example, a simplified version of the product roadmap can be focused on customer value and timelines to help the sales team communicate with potential clients.

When to use an Engineering Roadmap

You should put everything in the engineering roadmap while outlining the specific technical tasks, dependencies, and infrastructure needed to execute the product roadmap. This will help all developers and technical teams understand the next step in their work.

You should also consider engineering roadmaps when deciding how to allocate engineering resources, teams, and a development budget.

For example, an engineering roadmap would be used during an engineering team’s sprint planning session to break down specific feature implementation into smaller tasks.

Related to planning and resource allocation is removing bottlenecks from your process. Technical roadmaps can help you pinpoint potential technical hurdles or risks that could impact the overall product development timeline.

The PM’s Hot Take

Product roadmaps outline the vision and goals, focusing on the “why” and “what” for a broad audience. Engineering roadmaps detail the “how” and “when,” aimed at tech teams with specific tasks and deadlines.

The main difference lies in their audience and level of detail, yet both serve to steer a product from concept to launch. Use product roadmaps for strategy and alignment, engineering roadmaps for technical planning.

They should complement each other, ensuring all team members are aligned with the product’s direction. Tools like Fibery help keep these roadmaps coordinated.

Final Thoughts

Product and engineering roadmaps should ideally work in tandem. Changes in one often necessitate updates to the other, fostering continuous communication between the product development teams.

In Fibery, you can build, manage, and distribute technical and product roadmaps across multiple teams—all from one place. Grab your free trial and find out for yourself.

Psst... Wanna try Fibery? 👀

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