Charting the Course: Roadmap Vs Gantt Chart

Charting the Course: Roadmap Vs Gantt Chart

While roadmaps and Gantt charts may seem similar at first glance, there’s actually a clear distinction between the two, even though their names might make them sound interchangeable. 

It’s common for product management teams to mix them up, after all, both are planning tools that help in organizing tasks, and maps and charts do sound a little like the same thing.

In this guide, we’ll:

  • Clear the air on what exactly product roadmaps and Gantt charts are
  • Highlight the key differences that separate these two tools
  • Look into where they overlap because they do have a few things in common

So, read on to find out why you (may have) been mistaking these two organizational tools for the same thing.

What is a Product Roadmap?

A product roadmap is essentially your strategic compass. Think of it as the overarching plan that shows where you want to take your product in the future. 

It’s not focused on the day-to-day details or exactly how much time each new feature will need for development. Rather, it’s about sketching out a clear path forward, deciding what matters most, and making sure everyone involved understands where things are headed. 

This document answers “why” we’re on this journey with our product at all, typically captured in an easy-to-grasp timeline format.

An intricate product roadmap set up in Fibery
An intricate product roadmap set up in Fibery

For example, if we’re developing a new project management tool, our roadmap could highlight key objectives like rolling out an initial beta version early in Q1 to get user feedback quickly. 

Following that with adding teamwork capabilities around mid-year (Q2), stretching into the mobile territory by the end of summer (Q3), and wrapping up the year by integrating smart AI-based analytics features ahead of winter (Q4). 

These are deliberate steps chosen because they line up with our broader example goal of “revolutionizing project management using innovative tech solutions.”

What is a Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is essential for project managers when it comes to meticulous planning and keeping track of everything. 

It’s a visual timeline that lays out the entire plan of action for a project. This includes all the tasks, how long each one should take, what depends on what, and how far along things are.

A Gantt chart's database view in Fibery
A Gantt chart's database view in Fibery

Let’s say we’re looking at a Gantt chart created for building out a new AI feature described in our product roadmap. It maps every step—researching, crafting algorithms, running tests to deploying the feature to real-world use. 

For each activity, there’s a clear start point and an endpoint penciled in. It shows us clearly that some steps can’t begin until others finish up – like you can’t start testing before your algorithm is built.

As work moves forward or if deadlines shift around (let’s face it, they always do), the Gantt chart gets updated, too – so everyone stays aligned with current progress against timelines.

What are the main differences between a product roadmap and a Gantt chart?

Product roadmaps and Gantt charts are both invaluable in product management, but they have different roles. Let’s look at how these tools differ:

  • Big Picture vs. Details: A roadmap outlines the long-term vision for your product—it’s what you aim for in the future. A Gantt chart is about today; it’s a detailed plan of action to turn that big picture into reality.
  • Adaptability vs. Precision: Roadmaps allow room to adjust as needed; they’re not too concerned with minor changes along the way. On the other hand, Gantt charts need precise details—they lay out exact timings and who needs to do what by when.
  • Sharing Vision vs. Managing Work: You use a roadmap to keep stakeholders informed about where your product is headed, giving them clarity on its direction and potential growth opportunities over time, much like an overview or summary might be used during meetings or presentations.

In contrast, a Gantt chart keeps team members aligned on their immediate work and deadlines. It’s a shared task list with dates that ensures everyone knows their role in getting tasks completed on schedule.

What are the similarities between a product roadmap and a Gantt chart?

Product roadmaps and Gantt charts might serve different functions, but at heart, they’re cut from the same cloth when it comes to guiding product development. Let’s pinpoint exactly where these two tools align:

  • Both are essential for planning: Each tool is vital for plotting out what needs to be done; one offers a broad overview of what lies ahead, while the other breaks down the nitty-gritty steps.
  • Use timelines as visual aids: Timelines are central in both cases, providing a clear picture of how tasks will unfold over time.
  • Focused on goals: Ultimately, their purpose converges on advancing your project – whether by ensuring everyone’s eyes are fixed on strategic objectives or ticking off specific tasks.

The PM’s Hot Take

Our product roadmap and Gantt chart are like the heart and brain of our operation. One pumps the strategic vision throughout the product’s lifecycle, while the other keeps our day-to-day tasks and milestones in check. Thinking you can swap one for the other? That’s like saying you’d rather have a map of Europe when you’re trying to navigate the streets of Paris.

Conclusion

As you can see, grasping the difference between product roadmaps and Gantt charts goes beyond splitting hairs. It’s crucial knowledge for choosing the appropriate instrument to tackle your project effectively. 

So, before you leap back into managing products, bear in mind that precision in your planning resources translates directly into precise action.

Craving further knowledge? Fibery’s blog is a treasure trove designed for product managers. Whether you’re navigating Agile frameworks or prioritizing with MoSCoW, we’ve got insights that span the entire spectrum.

And if seamless integration of roadmaps and Gantt charts with all your objectives, themes, and sprints sounds like a dream come true for your next venture—consider trying out Fibery

It’s made with care for professionals such as yourself. Start a free trial or demo today and experience how tailored our tool truly is.

Psst... Wanna try Fibery? 👀

Infinitely flexible work & knowledge hub.