For Startups , User — 08.31.2020

Why a Product Roadmap is Necessary to Socialize your Product Vision

Lacey Lavies, Executive Partner, Product Strategy & Client Experience

One of the most important jobs of a product leader is to make choices and then rally teams around those choices. Some choices are long-standing and reflected in the product vision, some play into the foundation of a product strategy, and many more reside in the product roadmap.

All of these are important frameworks designed to help you create the best product. But before you can get to a product roadmap, you must understand the roadmap’s parent and grandparent, product vision and product strategy. 

Product Vision vs. Product Strategy 

Product vision depicts thefuture your product aims to create. Used to inspire teams and customers, product vision doesn’t waver with the wind. It paints a picture with color and texture of your desired product impact over the next several years. 

Product strategy follows and supports product vision by focusing on the “how,” while staying closely aligned with the organization’s goals. Strategy requires you to make tough choices among competing priorities. In the end, you will have laid a strategic foundation that guides future decision making for the product.   

Many companies have neither a product vision nor a product strategy, but rather, teams working on features that are somewhat random and without cohesive purpose. This is something you should avoid. 

Instead, you’ll want to translate your vision and strategy into an actionable product roadmap that will guide you every step of the way. 

The Value of a Product Roadmap 

A product roadmap is a fantastic tool to share how you plan to achieve certain outcomes over a specific period, supporting the product strategy and ultimately, aligning to the vision.

I used the word share intentionally because it’s one of the main purposes and benefits of crafting a roadmap. With a roadmap, you can: 

  • Share the priorities
  • Share the plan
  • Share how the budget is being allocated

A roadmap often includes a visual representation of the plan over time. It can get your team aligned and excited about what’s next. A good roadmap allows you to easily socialize the plan without getting bogged down in the details.

Roadmaps have notable external benefits as well. A customer-facing roadmap variation can paint a clear picture and earn their confidence in your product’s future. In some cases, roadmaps can also be used to gather specific feedback. 

Using Your Roadmap to Socialize Product Vision

If you’re ready to get started and formulate a solid roadmap of your own, you need to socialize the vision and plan. Here’s how:

  • Ensure the product vision and strategy are understood. If your vision and strategy aren’t clear to your audience, they can’t buy into your product’s goals. 
  • Visually map strategic initiatives over time in your roadmap. Ensure you’ve identified themes and considered higher-level outcomes rather than tactical needs. Leave the nitty-gritty details out. 
  • Supplement the visual roadmap with supporting content that paints a picture for key initiatives. For example, if your theme for Q1 is to release a mobile version of your offering, create a section in your deck focused on Q1, supported by content around the benefits of the initiative to customers. You’ll want to clearly define internal benefits.

Once you’ve socialized the product vision and plan, evaluate your business goals and create your roadmap.

Key Takeaways

  • Research before you build your roadmap.
  • Be clear and direct. Avoid the minor details.
  • Speak to the value of initiatives rather than how your product works.
  • Assess and adjust quarterly.

A quality vision and roadmap deck can be your best ally when inviting buy-in, clarifying expectations and generating excitement. 

See how Innovatemap can help generate a product roadmap for your startup.