Creating a product is a roller coaster. Roadmaps are the guard rails that keep everything on track. They guide the project through to its conclusion and prevent stressful derailments.
Roadmaps can take many different forms. Notion's product roadmap template gives you the flexibility to create a roadmap that fits your project, your team, and your working style. This allows you to improve team motivation, communication, and planning. That way, you can deliver projects on time.
What are product roadmaps?
A product roadmap is a plan that details the steps involved in product development.
You can use different types of product roadmaps, depending on the kind of project you’re working on. For example, newer startups or agile teams that aren’t working to a specific timeline can map out which high-priority tasks they need to work on first. A timeline-focused roadmap with a release plan of new product features shows the work development teams need to do for the release dates. It can help your team get ready for the product launch of a new product. You can also create a roadmap that outlines deliverables or KPIs that should be reached by certain dates.
Why are product roadmaps essential for teams?
Roadmaps allow the whole team to understand what stage the product is at. That means everyone can organize their work effectively to make progress. Keeping all information relevant to the project in one place lets your team work more efficiently. They don’t need to hunt around for information they need to get their tasks done.
Another advantage of roadmaps is they allow teams to see the big picture, not just the tasks they need to work on that day. This helps project managers anticipate potential problems or bottlenecks. It also increases motivation. Everyone knows the meaning behind the tasks they do and can see what they’re working toward.
Who can use product roadmaps?
Leaders and managers can use roadmaps to organize their teams, run initiatives, and check on the development process
Product team members — like engineers and designers — can use roadmaps to see when they need to complete different tasks
Investors and external stakeholders can use roadmaps to get an overview of when they can expect to see certain business goals reached
How to use a roadmap for better product management
Get your whole team to use the roadmap
Roadmaps aren’t just for project managers. They help the whole team to stay organized and execute the product strategy.
Make sure you involve your team from the very start. Getting their buy-in on the creation of the roadmap will help them to feel motivated. Ask for their input in developing product vision, product goals, outlining tasks, and assigning work to different team members. You’ll want to collate all the information relevant to the project and add it to the roadmap. Using it as a single source of truth means everyone knows where to look if they want to find key information, which improves workflow.
Make the roadmap work for your team by using different views to only display relevant and useful information:
Tasks by engineer allows engineers to see the tasks they’re responsible for.
Tasks by status shows the progress of tasks.
Timeline view gives project managers a high-level overview of when different work is being done, so nothing gets missed.
Organize your project into epics, tasks, and sprints
Organizing your project into a roadmap at the product planning stage allows you to identify short-term and long-term objectives. Then you can zoom in and outline what needs to happen to reach those goals.
Start by creating Epics. These are collections of tasks that span a certain period. They should be informed by your long-term strategic objectives. In Agile methodology, an epic is generally a large user story. It focuses on creating or improving something that will impact your users.
An epic should last around 2 weeks and include a metric for what you're trying to create or improve. To define your metric, ask: how can we tell that this objective has been reached?
Your epics will be made up of multiple sprints. These are a set of tasks to achieve a goal in a short time — a small piece of the bigger project.
Epic: create a mobile app for the product
Sprint: create the landing page
Epic: improve the functionality of the login page
Sprint: set up third party authentication so users can log in with social account
Epic: set up an online store
Sprint: create product pages
Then, you need to outline the tasks that will make up the sprints. They'll describe the steps to achieve the objectives of the sprint and the epics.
Some tasks might be:
Create the header component
Set up Google single sign-on
Write a product description
Add details to your tasks
People can work efficiently when the steps they need to follow are clear. Working transparently by keeping all the details for the tasks in the roadmap allows your team to be more flexible. If the person responsible for doing a specific task changes, work can continue without much disruption.
Here’s how you can add details to your tasks:
Set a status — not started, in progress, or done
Assign the task to a sprint
Add a priority level — this will label the tasks and help your team with prioritization
Add a timeline — set a time frame with start and end dates. There’s also the option to add a reminder
Add responsible team members — set a project manager and engineers
You can also add custom properties — like links, media files, and drop-down lists
There’s space to add more written information — here you can outline the why of the task and the steps involved
Use your roadmap as a living document
When your project changes, you need your plan to change with it. That way, even if things don’t go as you expect, you can keep working toward your goal.
Keep the roadmap updated. Set a recurring reminder in your calendar to make sure you check it every few days and ask your team to do the same. You can also add a deadline for completing updates to a Notion page — use
@ to mention a team member, then type
@ and a date to set a deadline. Update the status of tasks, their priority, and the projected timeline in real time as the project evolves. You can add new tasks or bugs for things that need to be fixed.
Checking in regularly to see how your team is doing helps you to identify any problems or difficulties. That way, you can help them as needed. It also helps you with strategic planning to keep everything on track.
Once you’ve ensured the roadmap is regularly updated, you can check on the status of tasks. Viewing the “Tasks by Status” gives you a list of which stage different tasks are at.
Use the clock icon in the top right-hand corner of a page to access the updates tab to see any changes your team has made.
Celebrate your success
Working on a long project can feel like being on a treadmill of constant, joyless motion. To keep motivation high, take time to pause and acknowledge your achievements before moving on to the next set of tasks.
A product roadmap will help you to see the milestones you’ve reached. Make an effort to celebrate wins. You could provide treats and gifts for your team or give them a simple shout-out in your Slack channel to let them know their hard work is appreciated.