You may have noticed a theme emerging: building a successful startup is largely about planning. Your product roadmap epitomizes this need. 

The ultimate purpose of your roadmap is to provide clarity. Clarity of purpose, responsibilities, goals, and timelines. It’s not about diving into such deep detail that you inadvertently put up roadblocks to getting the job done — it’s about having an outline that guides you and your team along the way. 

Having a great template for your template will be helpful for years to come. Each new project or feature update may require some roadmap, and having an effective template to start from will help each new project proceed efficiently and effectively.

Your roadmap templates 

Many great resources provide templates for your roadmap, but they can differ wildly depending on your product or industry. I have put together a general template that should give you the broad strokes needed to make sure you’re asking — and answering — the right questions.

  1. Why — Define the need for a roadmap and what you hope to achieve with it.
  2. Goals — Clearly explain the visions and goals of your product or service.
  3. Timeline — Having realistic deadlines to work toward is important to keeping your project on track. 
  4. Tasks — Clearly define the major tasks so your entire team knows what needs to be accomplished. The key here is to edit and refrain from going too deep into detail.
  5. Roles & Responsibilities — Once you have defined the tasks you need to complete, it’s time to assign responsibility for tasks and milestones to your stakeholders and employees.

While developing your initial roadmap, remember that this can serve as the template for future new releases, feature updates, and just about any major project your company undertakes. 

Tracking progress

You have your roadmap in place, but it’s important to track your progress throughout your journey to make it truly impactful. That means taking a regular look back at the ground you have already covered to understand your progress — and identifying any bumps you may have hit in the road.

The goals you have already articulated on your roadmap will help you determine how you measure success and what metrics you measure.

Whether you decide to track your progress weekly, monthly, quarterly, or by some other milestone, there are some things every project needs to track regularly to make sure you reach your goal. 

  • Status — In the simplest terms, you want to determine whether your project is still on track. If there have been unexpected delays, you need to account for them and ascertain whether or not these have put your progress at risk. It would be best if you also addressed timelines that may be running concurrently in different departments.   
  • Dependencies — It can be easy to get tunnel vision and see only your piece of the project. It’s important to keep track of dependencies to understand who is waiting on their work and how it impacts the larger timeline.
  • Roadblocks — Things will not always run smoothly, and so you will want to address the challenges that are impeding your progress. It’s also important to bring these impediments to the attention of the stakeholders who can address them quickly. 
  • Success — Celebrate your completed work! Tracking your accomplishments is just as important as looking at the work ahead and the roadblocks on your journey.  

When developing your reports, you may also want to consider whom you are reporting to.

Tracking progress is important for your team, but the rest of the company may also be interested. Your leadership team will likely be interested in high-level goals and strategy. Engineering will want to know how the implementation is progressing. Marketing will need to know about upcoming releases and timelines to plan their launch. Sales may be curious if customer feedback has been incorporated, what new features they should be planning to push, and more. 

Today, it’s all about Agile Development, and we’ll dive into how you can apply this framework to your team in my next article.

The article is also published on LinkedIn.

Author

Lomit Patel is the Vice President of Growth at IMVU. Prior to IMVU, Lomit managed growth at early-stage startups including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple) and EarthLink. Lomit is a public speaker, author, advisor, featured in Forbes Magazine and recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit’s new bestselling book Lean AI, is part of Eric Ries' "The Lean Startup" series.