A Product Manager’s guide to building a product roadmap from scratch

A product roadmap is absolutely essential if you want to build a great product. Here’s how I built one from scratch.
Eka Putri Wibowo
Eka Putri Wibowo

Product Manager

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A Product Manager’s guide to building a product roadmap from scratch

Feeling: Excited for more awesome features 😉

A Product Manager’s guide to building a product roadmap from scratch

When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, measuring Net Promoter Score (NPS) is vital to understanding how much your customers like your product and how likely they are to recommend it.

And as a Product Manager, nothing makes me more excited than seeing that NPS score go higher and higher 🤭 Can you really blame me, though?

But to achieve this, you’ll need a well-built product roadmap. It a visual tool that helps keep track of product development and fosters collaboration between teams.

Well-built product roadmaps are key in helping companies build great products. And over here at Novocall, this has helped us build our core click-to-call, outbound cold call dialer, and call tracking features.

For the uninitiated, you probably may not know what I was blabbering about 😂 But fret not, I’m going to explain what a product roadmap is and how I built an efficient one!

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a visual representation of a product’s overall goal, priority features, development timeline, and vision over time. It indicates which features the tech team is building, which stage of development they’re at, and what actionables you need to execute once the features have been developed.

Productplan's example product roadmap.
Productplan’s example product roadmap.

Perhaps the marketing team needs to send out update emails and announce the new feature on social media. Perhaps the partnerships team needs to update all your partners to be transparent about your progress. Whichever the case may be, product roadmaps are a great tool for providing everyone with an overview of the entire product development process.

Why is a product roadmap important?

The way I see it, there are two main reasons why having a product roadmap is essential to any company that develops and sells its own products.

Firstly, it helps you keep track of how well you are progressing toward your overall strategic vision. It gives you the visibility you need to be able to quickly identify roadblocks so you can rectify them.

Novocall’s roadmap makes it very clear to the marketing team which product features need to be announced.
Novocall’s roadmap makes it very clear to the marketing team which product features need to be announced.

 

As I’ve mentioned, the roadmap also lists down the actionables that other teams need to execute once the feature development has been completed.

And as you can see in the screenshot above, we clearly indicate the features that we need the marketing team to make announcements for once the development has been completed. Thanks Nigel and Faye!

And because we use Notion to create our product roadmap, teammates involved can leave comments on each task card, thus facilitating collaboration.

How to build a product roadmap?

1. Understand the product’s overall vision

What business problem was your product designed to solve in the first place? You need to know the answer to this question very well.

This plays a role in influencing the types of features that you will prioritize. Let’s take Novocall as an example. Because our software aims to supercharge your personal phone with business phone features.

Based on that, you should prioritize some of the most common business call software features. For us, we went with click-to-call, outbound cold call dialer, and call tracking.

2. Validate your product and feature ideas

Now that you’ve listed down the features you want to build, you need to validate your ideas.

This means that you should take active steps into making sure that your ideas are even worth adding to the roadmap in the first place. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Is there a significant demand for the feature I want to build?
  • What is the estimated revenue I can generate from a product that has these features?
  • Is there a huge demand from your existing user base (if you currently have one)?
  • Are you losing out to your competitors by not building said features?
  • Do you have enough resources (e.g. time and manpower) to build the features?

Remember, just because you want to build a product, doesn’t mean you should 😉

3. Look at customer feedback

Product roadmaps aren’t just places where you indicate new features to be built. They can also be used to list down existing features that need to be improved too.

Customer feedback provides great insights to help you prioritize specific features.

Frill helps collect customer feedback and shows you how in-demand each feature is.

At Novocall, we use Frill to collect customer feedback for us. As you can see above, our customers can submit requests for particular features.

Each submission can be viewed by the rest of our customers and they can even vote for a particular feature they want to be built. For example, allowing team access to our meeting scheduler Timesync has been voted 3 times.

4. Decide on which tool you want to use

Now that you know which features you want to build, you need to start planning a timeline. But to do that, you need collaborative tracker tools.

We use Notion over at Novocall. But some other examples include Trello, Asana, ProductPlan, Aha!, or Roadmunk.

Before you select your tool, you need to make sure that they have these features: deadline setting, and shared access to different departments to facilitate collaboration.

5. Decide key stages of product development

Choose the key stages of product development to form your roadmap columns.

Now, it’s finally time to put everything together.

Decide on the key stages that you will be including in your product roadmap. The Product Manager in me strongly recommends these:

  • Validated stage – To indicate which features have been validated and ready to be built
  • Development stage – This is the part where the feature building happens
  • Alpha testing stage – This is where you let your team test the features internally
  • Beta testing stage – Here is when you let a selected number of clients. Even if you don’t ask existing users, those testing out the features should not be part of your organization.
  • Announcement – Here is where you indicate the features that you want your teammates to announce. Make sure to tag your relevant colleagues to announce your feature launches. You can simply post on social media or write an article about it.

Product roadmaps aren’t just meant for internal teams

You can also create product roadmaps for your external stakeholders. These types of roadmaps are designed for the purpose of being transparent to people like your customers.

Novochat’s public roadmap.

We created a public roadmap for our omnichannel messaging software Novochat. You can check it out! Whatever is shown in the screenshot above can be accessed. We have nothing to hide and we don’t intend to 😉

Product roadmaps are necessary!

Well, that’s it! I hope you’ve found my tips helpful 😃

As you can see, building a good product roadmap is key to creating a great product. It helps your team keep track of different stages of development and facilitates collaboration.

Without this, you may end up missing deadlines, run into a lot of miscommunication, and build a lackluster product.

Eka Putri Wibowo
Eka Putri Wibowo

Affectionately known as kak Putri, Putri is a Product Manager at Novocall. In her free time, she loves watching crime and mystery films and spending quality time with her husband and kids.

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