Top challenges for project managers include competing organizational objectives, lack of time, lack of clarity in their role, and lack of product management processes.
This makes creating product roadmaps an essential element of a product manager’s role. A product roadmap outlines the vision, direction, priorities, and progress of a product over time, and provides strategic direction for the product offering.
With product managers often juggling multiple projects, product roadmaps also help organize top initiatives to ensure they will deliver the most value and impact for your business.
Product managers often use different types of tools to create product roadmaps. These include text-heavy programs such as spreadsheets or online documents, which can be hard to understand, and can thus increase the chance of communication gaps, delays, and other inefficiencies.
Luckily, there’s a better way to create product roadmaps: using a solution like MindManager®, a visual productivity and mind mapping tool that enables users to easily create customizable visual product roadmaps for any use case.
Mind maps provide a graphical, structured way to represent concepts and ideas. They help users to identify, structure, and analyze information by breaking them down into individual components or tasks.
4 benefits of using visual product roadmaps
When it comes to product roadmaps, mind maps support your ability to brainstorm and identify potential roadblocks, devise mitigation plans, identify solutions, and ultimately create the roadmap(s) that you and your team can consult and update as you go.
Other key benefits of visual product roadmaps include:
1. Better strategic alignment
Strategic alignment is achieved when both product and customer goals are aligned with the goals of your organization. One way to achieve this is by lining up goals with their associated initiatives directly within your product roadmap.
A visual roadmap can illustrate how organizational goals and customer needs are connected while ensuring your most valuable resources, i.e., your team members, are all working towards key strategic outcomes.
For example, you could use a status-oriented roadmap to line up your goals with their associated initiatives. Status-oriented roadmaps highlight what tasks are currently underway, what’s next, and what’s planned for later. These roadmaps are often displayed as Kanban charts, which help provide clarity and simplicity.
2. Greater clarity
Visual tools can help clarify your product vision and desired goals throughout the roadmap creation and distribution process, making it easier for all stakeholders to fully understand your vision and strategy.
A visual roadmap enables you to create a fully customizable diagram that maps out anything you need, whether it’s key tasks and deliverables, their due dates, who they’re assigned to, their status, or their priority level.
You can also create separate product roadmaps for specific teams to avoid overwhelming stakeholders who simply want a high level view. In this way you can retain a 10,000 foot view for those not intimately involved in the work at hand, and provide a detailed view of every task for those team members who are working on those specific tasks.
One type of roadmap you can use here is the product portfolio roadmap. This roadmap goes beyond a single product vision to show all planned releases across a whole portfolio of products in a single view. This broader perspective provides a strategic overview of your plan to stakeholders while helping internal teams understand how their specific project relates to other concurrent and dependent initiatives.
3. Sharper focus
Objective and outcome-based visual roadmaps cultivate a shared understanding of desired customer-focused and organizational outcomes among all stakeholders. Roadmap visualization can also play an important part in motivating teams to pay attention to and prioritize the work that matters most to the organization.
Consider an outcome-oriented roadmap for this, as it focuses on the problems and results your team is trying to solve with your product.
For example, your outcome might be to increase sales conversions, improve product use and adoption, save users time when performing tasks, or provide cost savings.
4. Enhanced collaboration
MindManager’s collaboration features open up a world of possibilities by enabling users to easily share roadmaps with team members so everyone is working from the same, most recent version.
For example, teams can leverage co-editing, where multiple users can simultaneously edit and update a roadmap, with all changes reflected and saved in real time.
The MindManager for Microsoft Teams app enables contributors to quickly and easily reference and work on roadmaps during Microsoft Teams meetings to make sessions more productive.
You can also create and assign tasks directly to team members within a product roadmap so that your roadmap essentially functions as a project and task management tool, where all information is located in a single, centralized location.
Time-oriented roadmaps are ideal for collaboration, as they enable you to use either explicit dates or more generic references to visualize timelines, making it easier for everyone involved to quickly understand where a certain task, milestone, and/or deliverable stands.
Discover 7 product roadmaps to target different key stakeholders in the next article in this series.