The Product Roadmap Template: An Agile User Guide to Creating Strategic and Flexible Product Roadmaps

The Product Roadmap Template: An Agile User Guide to Creating Strategic and Flexible Product Roadmaps

Developing products the Agile way means balancing planning and adaptability. Agile product teams need strategic feedback loops so they can adapt as requirements evolve. To do this successfully, teams need a flexible product development plan with a customer-centered strategy. This type of product development plan is called a product roadmap.

Our Product Roadmap template helps your Agile team create this map. Perform research and analysis to determine what product features create the highest value to the customer. Determine which of these are worth the effort to pursue and add these product initiatives to your roadmap. Convert the initiatives into Jira user stories right on a virtual whiteboard. With Whiteboards’ unique two-way Jira integration, user stories appear instantly in Jira and project managers can break them down into smaller tasks.

Start using the free Whiteboards app today to begin your product roadmap journey. Keep reading to learn more about product roadmap templates and discover how your team can manage product development more effectively.

Product roadmap basics

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a company’s high-level and long-term strategic vision for developing product offerings. Product managers use a product roadmap to:

  • keep the strategic business vision in focus throughout all stages of development
  • prioritize the product backlog to develop the highest value features first
  • provide a flexible working plan for adding value to the product line
  • chart a projected timeline for developing and improving products and features
  • map product developments over the long term – usually months or an entire year
  • communicate a unified product vision to internal and external stakeholders
  • track product development over the long run to see what works and what doesn’t

Product roadmap vs. project roadmap

It is important not to confuse a product roadmap with a project roadmap. Project managers handle resource allocation, risk management, and execution. To account for these priorities, a project roadmap deals with the “how,” “when,” and “what if” of a given project. 

A product manager thinks about the big picture. They focus on optimizing product offerings in line with the larger business strategy. A product roadmap shows the “what” and “why” – with a projected timeline for “when.” The roadmap outlines which product features to develop in the next months or years. It does not tell team members how to do this, allocate resources to get it done, or explain contingency plans. Project managers work this out during the project planning stage.

In short, project management is about getting specific tasks done. Product management guides that work with a high-level visionary strategy in the form of a product roadmap.

Why should I use product roadmap templates for product development?

You don’t need a map to drive to your local grocery store. You probably don’t even think about the turns you take to get there. If creating innovative products were this easy, we’d all be expert product managers. But product management is not a quick outing to buy milk and eggs. It’s more like a months-long road trip with a lot of turns and important stops. Without a good roadmap, your journey will likely involve dead ends, wrong turns, and a lot of backtracking.

That’s where the Product Roadmap template helps. A product roadmap is a bird’s-eye view of your whole journey from start to finish. It outlines a general route to reach a series of destinations. This way, when there’s a detour or roadblock, you know how to get back on track.

In Agile workflow, the exact route of product development is flexible. Teams expect to make some extra stops along the way, cancel certain planned stops, and adjust the itinerary as they go. With a solid agile roadmap template, they keep the central goal in focus: delivering the best overall value to the customer.

When should I make a product development roadmap?

Ideally, a product manager has a roadmap at all times. This way, they can provide all stakeholders with a working overview of the product development strategy. Make a roadmap to chart product development for the upcoming months or the whole year. Update it regularly to reflect changing customer requirements, new market analysis, and internal business realities. For seamless product development, create a new roadmap before the end of the first map’s timeline.

Having a working roadmap at all times keeps everyone focused on the big picture. The product roadmap isn’t just for the product manager or development team. It’s also the primary visioning map for everyone who collaborates to research, design, develop, test, market, and sell the product. It’s the highest-level visual summary of the company strategy for customer fulfillment. 

The Whiteboards app offers a free Product Roadmap template to help you keep all your teams aligned with this vision. Sketch out your strategy on an infinite-plane whiteboard with robust Jira integration. Import, create, and update Jira issues without leaving the whiteboard. Product management flows seamlessly into project management with two-way Jira integration. Project managers create and assign tasks in their own Whiteboards sessions. Tasks appear instantly in Jira for quick deployment. Your entire product development process lives in one virtual space. And your whiteboard work integrates with Jira at every step.

What are the features of the product roadmap template on Whiteboards?

Powerful tools, flexible templates, and two-way Jira sync aid your roadmap journey.

The Product Roadmap template
The Product Roadmap template

Product roadmaps range from basic to highly complex. Our Product Roadmap template is straightforward and flexible to accommodate different user needs. Adapt or expand it to fit your product management requirements. The template starts with three essential features:

  1. Development timeline: The columns in the template show product development over four quarters. You can easily expand these columns into weeks, months, or two-week sprints to suit your product strategy.
  2. Product collections: The template’s rows divide your initiatives into logical groupings. Product managers commonly label these fields according to either features or themes. Feature-based roadmaps categorize initiatives by broad product features, such as “shopping cart” or “online customer support.” Theme-based roadmaps sort initiatives by strategic themes, for instance, “create the most intuitive online shopping experience.” Learn more about these two approaches in our product roadmap examples.
  3. Initiative bars: The horizontal boxes are the individual feature initiatives in your product development. Each bar spans a given time period according to priority level, dependencies, and estimated time to complete.

The Product Roadmap template is easy to customize. Whiteboards’ other templates and tools also assist your product development. Choose from dozens of templates to guide your process from brainstorming through retrospectives. Take advantage of Whiteboards’ flexible tool palette as you create your roadmap:

  • Color code different elements to communicate key information more effectively. 
  • Import images to mark release dates and milestones on the timeline. 
  • Add other templates to the board to do the background work for your roadmap. Check out our template suggestions for this in the next section.
  • Convert sticky notes to Jira issues using Whiteboards’ unique two-way Jira integration. User stories appear automatically in Jira, ready to break down into project tasks.
  • Design a presentation using the Frames tool. Invite other stakeholders to the whiteboard to communicate your product development strategy.
  • Choose from a wide selection of retrospective templates. Regularly assess your completed roadmap journey. Incorporate these learnings as you design your next roadmap.

The Whiteboards app makes it easy to manage your product mapping process in one place. Store all your templates and your presentation on the whiteboard’s infinite canvas. Import, update, and create Jira issues right on the whiteboard with deep two-way Jira integration. New user stories and updates appear in Jira with no extra steps. Try the Product Roadmap template today and keep your product management on track with the Whiteboards app.

How do I build a product roadmap?

Follow our guide to keep your product roadmap both visionary and realistic.

A product roadmap is your highest level guide for product development. You’ll need to do some careful strategizing to develop the best roadmap for your business. It can be a complex process, and the Product Roadmap template is not your first step. In fact, you’ll do most of your work before you get to the roadmap. Good preparation makes the roadmapping stage easy. Once there, you’ll simply chart the product strategies you identified during your research and analysis.

Step One: Do the background work for your product roadmap

Before you jump into the roadmap itself, read the suggested strategy steps below. These steps are flexible, so feel free to adapt them to create your own plan. Be sure you approach the roadmap stage with the information you need. We’ve selected helpful templates to point you in the right direction.

Agile teams keep the product roadmap process collaborative. Deep cross-functional collaboration increases buy-in and establishes a more resilient product strategy. The product manager safeguards and communicates this strategy, but they develop and update it with feedback from many stakeholders.

Here are five collaborative stages to help prepare you to make an excellent roadmap:

  1. Brainstorm: What products and features does the team envision? Add the Product Vision Board template to the whiteboard to guide this high-level brainstorming process. Import Jira issues to the whiteboard from the product backlog. Add new ideas to virtual sticky notes. Collect broad product suggestions and resist the urge to refine them at this stage.
  2. Analyze: Which proposals provide the most value to the customer? Add the  Opportunity Solution Tree template to your whiteboard. Check your brainstorming sticky notes and identify the needs and opportunities for your product. Do additional research and analysis whenever necessary. Narrow down your ideas to those that best align with the product vision.”.
  3. Prioritize: Which ideas are both visionary and worth doing? Sort your remaining proposals on the Value Effort Matrix template. Table any ideas that aren’t worth the effort in this product development cycle.
  4. Estimate: How long do you expect the chosen initiatives to take? You don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of project management. But you will need a broad timeline for your roadmap. Invite project managers to use the Planning Poker template with their teams. Have them return time estimates for each initiative on the whiteboard. You’ll use these estimates to sketch in general time frames on your roadmap.
  5. Arrange: What’s the order of execution for your chosen initiatives? Before you can map your initiatives, you’ll need to identify their dependencies. Convert your remaining sticky notes to Jira issues. Connect issues visually by drawing lines and updating Jira dependencies. Updates sync automatically in Jira using Whiteboards’ unique two-way Jira integration.

With these five steps completed, you’ll have done the hard work. Adding the Product Roadmap template to the board and filling it in is the easy part!

Before we get to that, it’s important to note that these preparation steps aren’t static. Successful teams regularly repeat these steps. Then they update the roadmap to reflect shifting customer needs and market realities.

Start your product roadmap process today with the templates listed above. A free Whiteboards account includes all these templates and dozens of others. Use these tools to develop visionary products that center the needs of your target customer.

Step Two: Use the Product Roadmap template

Before you start your product roadmap, be sure your prep work from step one above is done. With your initiatives outlined, add the Product Roadmap template to your whiteboard.

You’ll see that the template’s timeline is split into business quarters. You can shorten the timeline or break the year down further to fit your process. To make a month-based roadmap, simply copy-paste the four columns twice, then rename the fields with months. Your timeline is in place. Save your updated template for future roadmaps.

Next, decide how you will group your product development goals. Product managers commonly sort these rows by either features or themes. We’ll illustrate each method in the examples below.

Now add your initiatives according to start time, estimated duration, and dependencies. Mark milestones and expected release dates, and your roadmap is ready to go.

Two product roadmap examples

Our examples focus on a single high-level roadmap for the entire product line. Depending on the size of your product offering, you may want to make additional roadmaps. Start with one map of the entire product development strategy. You can break this down into submaps later.

Our example business makes an app for businesses that market on social media. The app features a robust platform for coordinating posts across multiple social media platforms. It includes a post-writing interface, social media analytics, collaborative tools, and automation features. It helps businesses manage their social media outreach and grow their following. The business strategy is to deliver the best possible tools for the customer to accomplish this.

We’ll map our sample business’s product strategy in two different ways: by features and by themes. Use these examples to decide which approach best suits your product development needs.

Example 1: A features-based product roadmap

Product development roadmaps are commonly organized by product features. Many product managers prefer this straightforward option. It’s easy to list product features and assign initiatives accordingly.

In our example scenario, the business has done their preparation work. They’ve examined stakeholder feedback and researched the competition. Based on their analysis, they identified 14 product line development opportunities. They label the template rows according to which features will be created or updated. Then they group their initiatives by product feature on the timeline:

The Product Roadmap template with initiatives
The Product Roadmap template with initiatives

Example 2: A theme-based product roadmap

Many Agile teams opt to map their product vision using themes. Themes represent general growth areas instead of specific features. They describe the customer experience in broad strokes and reflect the end user experience of interacting with a range of features.

To create a theme-based agile roadmap, our example team reflects on their brainstorming phase. They ask, what key strategic goals emerged? What general experiences would make our customers happier? The roadmap themes answer these questions. 

The advantage of a theme-based roadmap is that its user stories point to the larger product strategy. This helps keep all roadmap updates aligned with the product development vision. Notice that all the initiatives are the same as in the first example. They’re just rearranged by strategic theme instead of product feature:

The Product Roadmap template with various initiatives and features
The Product Roadmap template with various initiatives and features

Next steps with the product roadmap

Note that our example business kept their initiatives simple. A product roadmap doesn’t dictate project management decisions. That work is for project managers to do. The product roadmap just communicates the broad strategy that guides these decisions.

Our team converts their initiatives into Jira user stories on the whiteboard using two-way Jira sync. These user stories appear automatically in Jira for project managers to develop further. The project managers create tasks on the whiteboard during their project planning sessions. These tasks also sync directly in Jira. Project managers check the roadmap often and report progress to the product manager. The product manager communicates updates to all stakeholders. They adjust release dates and keep all teams aligned to the product development strategy.

Following your product roadmap

Keep your strategy front and center along the product development journey.

A strategic, flexible product roadmap is essential to vision-oriented product development. The product manager uses this roadmap to coordinate diverse teams. They orient everyone around the key strategic goal: delivering what the customer needs most. 

For best results, treat the roadmap as your top-level working guide for monitoring strategic product initiatives. Be ready to adapt to changing conditions, and hold regular collaborative meetings to update your strategy. Save roadmap template iterations to see how initiatives evolve over time. Keep all your work stored on the infinite plane of your virtual whiteboard to access diagrams and presentations all in one place.

Sign up for a free Whiteboards account to start using the Product Roadmap template today. Hold meetings on a virtual whiteboard that integrates deeply with Jira. Plot your product development using powerful tools that help you stay focused on your vision.

Want to learn how Jira sync assists your product development journey? Our short demo shows how our unique two-way Jira integration helps your team work faster and better, from collaborative planning through retros.