A product roadmap is an outline of upcoming product releases for a specific time frame. The roadmap details the overall implementation of the product strategy. The inputs (or ideas) that you need to create your product roadmap come from several different sources.

Product input sources

1. Market

The market drives most of your inputs to your product roadmap. The market includes:

  • Customers: Existing customers will insist that you add features to your product because they need them.
  • Prospects: Potential customers will request that your product do certain things. They might insist that a specific product feature or extension be in place before they buy the product.
  • Target market: Speaking to potential customers who are not looking for a solution today will provide you with input for your roadmap.
  • Competition: Your competitors will have features and offerings that you might want in your product. Be careful not to add features because your competitor has them. Validate them with other inputs.

2. Product strategy

Your product strategy is your product’s general direction.

Your product roadmap helps you to execute this strategy, so add items to the roadmap that will help you to reach product goals. These are small steps on the road to your overall strategy.

3. Technology

Your product might use particular technologies that must be implemented or upgraded over time.

4. Existing product enhancements

As you implement items on the product roadmap, you might realize the need to evolve some areas to make features more robust. This feedback will come from internal and external product users.

Setting timeframes for the inputs to your product roadmap

Many inputs have timeframes that must be considered when incorporating them into the product roadmap.

  • Customer and prospect commitments: Customers might request a particular feature be in place in a specific timeframe. Prospects might insist that a feature be in place before they sign a contract.
  • Technical dependencies: To deliver some outlined features, you might have to implement certain technologies beforehand. You might need to update one of your product’s underlying technologies if a component has changed or been upgraded by the supplier.
  • Investment milestones: To deliver on commitments to investors, you might have to promise that your product will meet goals by a certain timeframe.

Your next step: Validating your product roadmap inputs

Make sure that you validate your inputs to ensure that they make sense for your product roadmap. For more information on this topic, read the next article in the product roadmap series entitled Validating inputs to tech product roadmaps.

Other articles in this series include:

References

Stull, C., Myers, P.& Scott D.M. (2008). Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities that Lead to Business Breakthroughs. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.