Every time I visit a workshop, startup owners ask me a lot of questions.

“What is one thing that is very important in making my business successful?”

“What is the single common reason startups fail?”

“I am planning to start a business, what is the first step?”

Success of any company depends on various factors the most important being planning. If you are able to plan efficiently and deliberately there will be fewer chances of failure. 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  ― Benjamin Franklin 

Planning every step in advance helps you to be in a better position to predict failures and understand the market. 

The key element in planning is the roadmap – a blueprint that is thoughtfully made to assist in the process of business development. 

Roadmaps become essential when you have a product. It’s an essential step that ensure success in product placement. 

So what’s a Roadmap? And how do you build one?

The truth – A roadmap isn’t a to-do-list. 

It’s way more structured and needs to be done after considerable deliberation. It’s a strategic document that is designed keeping in mind the need of your business (product if the case be so) and how efficiently your business goals can be achieved. 

It outlines goals, milestones and deliverables in an achievable manner. 

A roadmap is usually created by the business owner or product manager(s). 

A well-made roadmap incorporates the following things-  

  • Highlights of the product or business strategy and goals
  • Features of business or product
  • The date-line highlighting the developmental phase
  • Segregation of responsibilities – who does what in the creation process

High-level priorities, if any.  

Why Create a Roadmap ?

The purpose of creating a roadmap is to outline the different steps in business or product realization and to facilitate communication between different heads working on business or product model. 

Main aim is to keep everyone aware of what’s happening in the development process.

Since the roadmap is shared with all concerned people, everyone stays on the same page and thus can contribute far more efficiently and productively. 

Benefits of a roadmap

  • Organizational consensus on how to go about achieving the goals of the business
  • Plan that is designed to meet the predefined goals in a realistic manner
  • Functionality of the product and its features
  • A framework that puts the entire team together 
  • Helps to identify areas to cut cost

Understand the customer and audience reaction 

Types of Roadmaps

Generally a roadmap is a horizontal bar chart that categorically segregates the task at hand into different zones, highlighting the team working on a particular section. 

Traditionally roadmaps were made on Word or Excel which was tedious. Today there are several online tools that help create it far more easily and efficiently. 

Keeping in mind the agility that is required to create a roadmap, these online tools have pre-designed templates that can be edited and updated as per one’s need. 

There are three frameworks that are very popular all over the world. Product managers and business heads use one of these frameworks to create their roadmap. 

      • The no-dates roadmap – Businesses that have just started out cannot work on a strict deadline. They need a roadmap that is flexible so that they can accommodate their changing priorities.
        This is especially true when your product or business is still very new and almost every week you learn something new about yourself and your audience. It is beneficial to create a map that has divided things not on the basis of time but on themes, sprints and owners.  
    1.  
      • The Hybrid Product Roadmap – This type of roadmap is designed by businesses who are not exactly new in the market but haven’t matured yet – growth stage. The hybrid roadmap is more comprehensive than the no-dates roadmap without being overbearing. Time-based deadlines can be set but instead of using a tight schedule, it’s more flexible
    2.  
      • The Timeline Product Roadmap – This is a complex type that is followed by matured businesses having products over the years. It is detailed, comprehensive and of course charted on a strict time-based graph.

Things You Should Include in Your Roadmap
While there is no strict formula for creating a roadmap and every business should have their unique elements , there are still a few things that must be in it. 

  • Goals – Measurable objectives that gives a clearer picture to the purpose of the roadmap. This must include any critical accomplishments that will prove to be helpful in the future.  
  • Products – This essentially need not mean a viable product but anything that the business is developing such as an idea, method, service or information. Along with the products, all attributes, whether tangible or intangible should be added. Attributes can be the benefits, functions, features and uses of the product. 
  • Time – Typically roadmaps are graphed on a timesheet. Whether your roadmap incorporates a strict time-based deadline or has a more flexible time schedule will depend upon your need. The schedule is further divided based on months, quarters and if needed years.  
  • Features – This is the section where every functionality of your product is highlighted in a lucid manner. Every detail about the features must go into this section.  
  • Status – Status gives more insights on how much work has been done, is being done and what is still left to be done. There can be different status indicators for features, initiatives, goals as per your need. 

Steps To Create a Roadmap
Keep answers to the below questions ready before you start creating the roadmap:

  • What are your high-level goals?
  • Do you have initiatives worth including?
  • What are the tasks that must be included in the roadmap?
  • Do you have a time-line in mind or are you going to be more flexible with deadlines?
  • Are there any task priorities that need to be highlighted in the roadmap?
  • What are the key milestones that need to be achieved?
  • Are there any task dependencies between the various departments?

An ideal roadmap is made on a graph through a y-axis and x-axis.

Typically you should be placing your activities, tasks and goals on the y-axis while the x-axis should have the date-line.

You can make it either in Word or Excel or can choose an online creator that will simplify your task along with  acting as a guide on how to create a roadmap.

 

Time for you to take an action and get ready to prepare your first roadmap.
Do It Now

*Article first published on LinkedIn.