Successful product leaders know that nothing should be designed or built in isolation. They prioritize rallying teams around a product vision, and attracting buy-in from stakeholders to champion products for users while advancing business goals.
One way product leaders achieve this is through the use of a product portfolio roadmap, a strategic communications tool that illustrates the steps needed to bring a company’s product strategy and vision to life. It’s a crucial tool for any business to stay competitive and agile in a digital-first, real-time ecosystem of commerce and consumers. As a visual representation of an organization’s product strategy and development over a finite period of time, the portfolio roadmap details all products represented across an organization’s catalog of offerings, including development stages, important dates, competitive benchmarks, and other key information. It’s an essential part of making smart, informed decisions about product development initiatives, and defines how different offerings fit into the organization’s long-term strategy.
Since many organizations have multiple products within their portfolios, each with its own managers, the product portfolio roadmap provides an overarching strategy that plays a critical role in getting and keeping everyone aligned. By capturing the big picture of how results will be achieved, it helps teams stay focused on important tasks and fosters collaboration as the product makes its way to market. It gives product managers a single source of truth, as well as a hub to communicate the product vision and strategy throughout the company. It allows them to determine what they share or assign based on which internal partners are involved in specific stages of product creation. Finally, the roadmap helps effectively align resources—like teams, spend, and technology—with overall product development goals.
This reduces uncertainty, clearly outlines priorities and deliverables, captures statuses and outcomes, and offers transparent insight into product prioritization, decisions, and milestones. With a flexible roadmap in hand, businesses can stay efficient and productive while maintaining customer trust and instilling confidence in the product development process. Here’s how to build one.
Step 1: Confirm the Company Strategy and Objectives
This should include the product vision, mission, and goals. This is also the time to define your target markets, customer needs, and where the business sits in the competitive landscape, in addition to potential bottlenecks or external requirements that may impact product and feature adoption. The first step in creating a product portfolio roadmap is to confirm your company’s strategy and objectives. This step is critical because it ensures that your product development initiatives align with your company’s overall vision. You need to have a clear understanding of your company’s mission, values, and long-term objectives. Once you have this information, you can create a product portfolio roadmap that supports these objectives.
It’s also important to conduct a thorough review of existing assets using a SWOT analysis. This will help identify gaps in the product portfolio, as well as reveal emerging customer needs or changes in demand. This assessment of the product’s strengths (competitive advantages and differentiators), weaknesses (areas where competitors are superior), opportunities (paths to expansion and optimization), and threats (obstacles that could derail the product’s success) is especially effective when combined with Productboard’s Double Diamond approach to product discovery. This method illustrates how businesses can build product portfolio roadmaps that align the entire organization around what’s being built, and how different teams contribute to the process. Additionally, it focuses on discovering and defining user needs, generating a wide range of potential solutions, and then refining and testing the most promising ideas through a combination of divergent and convergent thinking.
Step 2: Identify and Set Goals
The next step is to figure out what success looks like and how you’re going to measure it. Goals are essential because they provide a clear direction for your product development team, and anyone else invested in what that team creates. Without clear goals, there’s a high risk of misaligned initiatives, duplicate work, and broken collaboration. After goals have been identified, it’s important to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives.
Next, add tasks and initiatives related to the goals. You need to identify the tasks and initiatives that have the highest probability of helping you complete what you’ve set out to do. Make sure that each task or initiative is tied to a specific goal, and clearly connected to primary company objectives.
For example, inventory current products, features, and services, along with their most up-to-date stages of development, dependencies, and target markets. Then, based on the SWOT analysis, explore the gaps and opportunities for growth that exist for different offerings. This may involve creating new solutions altogether, enhancing existing ones, or retiring those that have hit a profitability wall in order to allocate resources elsewhere.
Step 4: Prioritize Initiatives
Always prioritize product development efforts around the goals and needs of your customers. The revenue potential, scalability, time-to-value, and dedicated resources needed to bring offerings to market are all dynamic factors with heavy influence over longevity—but it’s consumer demand and loyalty that ultimately determine a product’s lifetime.
Once you’ve defined tasks and initiatives, it’s time to figure out which are the most critical, which are flexible, and which aren’t required to produce an MVP. Consider the impact and effort required for each moving piece, their potential return on investment (ROI), how they each support the company’s urgency to compete, and what is and isn’t aligned with topline goals.
Step 5: Connect Tactical to Strategic Initiatives
It is essential to ensure that your tactical initiatives are connected with your strategic initiatives. Tactical initiatives are the specific tasks that need to be completed to achieve strategic objectives. Make sure that each tactical initiative is tied to a specific strategic objective. This will help you stay focused on your long-term goals and ensure that all tactical initiatives are aligned with the company’s vision.
Step 6: Visualize the Product Portfolio Roadmap
It’s time to create a product portfolio roadmap that outlines the development schedule and release path of all in-process products and features. Add timelines, milestones, and projected goals at minimum before sharing it out to partners. Once it’s ready for input, provide access to all internal stakeholders, including product development teams, executives, and investors. This helps align resources and ensures that everyone is working towards the same set of goals and outcomes. There are multiple ways to visualize your roadmap:
Gantt Charts. These bar charts show the start and end dates of each task or activity in a project, as well as their duration and the order in which they will be completed. It includes horizontal bars that represent the time period during which each task will take place, allowing project managers to easily track progress and identify potential scheduling conflicts or delays.
Kanban Boards. A Kanban board optimizes workflow and enhances collaboration. It uses columns to represent different stages in a project, with cards or sticky notes moving from column to column as they progress. Kanban boards limit work-in-progress and help teams focus on getting things done.
Swimlane Diagrams. Also known as cross-functional flowcharts, swimlane diagrams illustrate the steps taken by teams and individuals involved in completing a task or achieving a goal. Each “swimlane” on the diagram represents a different person or department, and the steps they take are shown as horizontal lanes that intersect to create a flowchart. Swimlane diagrams can be useful for identifying inefficiencies or areas where tasks are getting stuck, as well as for improving communication and collaboration among team members involved in a process.
Step 7: Review and Revise (and Do it Again)
Ongoing review and revisions to the product portfolio roadmap ensure that it remains consistently aligned with the overall product strategy and business objectives, even as they change scope. This may involve making adjustments based on market feedback, incorporating evolving customer needs, or navigating disruptions to the competitive landscape.
How Can Productboard Help You Build a Product Portfolio Roadmap?
Productboard helps agile teams build clear, adaptable roadmaps by providing a command center for all things product development and delivery. Several newly released features and enhancements help teams deliver better products faster:
- A redesigned user interface is more intuitive and user-friendly, making it easier for product teams to collaborate and manage workflows.
- Customizable views give users control over how they interact with tasks and workflows, allowing them to focus on what matters most.
- New roadmap planning capabilities allow product teams to create and share their product roadmaps with stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is aligned on the product vision and priorities.
- Workspaces provide a way for product teams to manage multiple related products or products with a shared user base, all while keeping the data and feedback for each product separate and organized. Users can easily switch between different products or product lines to focus on the tasks and features that are most important for each one.
- Initiatives are high-level goals or objectives that can be broken down into smaller, actionable features or tasks, providing a better way for teams to align their work with overall business goals and track progress towards them.
- Customizable feature prioritization allows users to create their own prioritization formulas and weighting for features based on factors such as customer impact, strategic importance, and effort required.
- Enhanced integrations with popular tools like Jira, Trello, and Asana make it easier for teams to connect tools in the tech stack, and communicate more quickly and clearly.
- Optimized analytics and reporting help teams accurately track and measure progress against key performance indicators (KPIs), and make data-driven decisions about product development.
With Productboard, teams are able to rely on up-to-the-minute accuracy, and collaborate in a centralized location. They’re able to collect and analyze data from multiple channels and sources, all while placing product ideas in a clear hierarchy based on an offering’s potential impact, lifetime value, and viability.
Examples of Product Portfolio Roadmaps
Product portfolio roadmaps take various forms depending on the needs of the organization and the diversity of their product offerings. They include:
- High-level roadmap: Provides a high-level overview of the organization’s product portfolio, including major initiatives and key milestones. Can be used to communicate the overall product strategy and vision to internal and external stakeholders.
- Feature roadmap: Captures the features and functionality that will be added to the organization’s products over a specific period. Includes details on the timeline for each feature, and can be used to communicate the development priorities to internal teams.
- Resource allocation roadmap: Shows how resources will be allocated across the organization’s product portfolio over a particular time frame. Used to ensure that resources are being used effectively and efficiently to achieve product goals.
- Release roadmap: Illustrates the specific product releases planned for a given period, including the features and functionality that will be included in each release. Used to communicate release dates and content to internal teams and customers.
- Market-focused roadmap: Outlines the organization’s product plans based on specific market needs or opportunities. Used to prioritize product development efforts and ensure that products are meeting customer needs and demands.
Product portfolio roadmap templates
Creating a product portfolio roadmap from scratch can be an intimidating challenge. Product development is complex and constantly changing, and managers must balance the needs and expectations of various stakeholders—customers, internal teams, and company leadership—while also considering fluctuating market trends and competition.
Managing multiple products within a portfolio adds another layer of complexity, requiring a strategic approach to prioritization and resource allocation. Without a clear and comprehensive plan, it can be difficult to ensure that resources are being used effectively and that the product portfolio is aligned with overall business goals.
Productboard’s Product Strategy Template provides a comprehensive framework for product managers to define and communicate their product strategy, which can help align teams, stakeholders, and customers around a shared vision for the product. It includes tried-and-tested tips for defining a product vision, identifying target customers and needs, and assessing the competitive landscape.
This template also provides a prioritization framework for product managers to identify objectives, key results they want to achieve, and the initiatives they plan to execute to achieve those results. Finally, it outlines how to create a one-page product strategy summary to clearly communicate the product vision, objectives, and key initiatives to stakeholders, along with a scorecard to track progress:
- Executive summary: Provides a high-level overview of the roadmap, including key milestones and strategic priorities.
- Product portfolio overview: Details the organization’s complete product portfolio, including the different product lines, their target markets, and their strategic goals.
- Market analysis: Gives insight into target markets and audiences, including market size, growth trends, and key competitors.
- Strategic objectives: Defines goals related to revenue growth, market share, customer satisfaction, and product innovation.
- Initiatives and roadmap: Includes the specific initiatives and features that will be launched over a period of time, including timelines and milestones. It can be broken down by product line or by strategic priority.
- Resource allocation: Describes how resources, such as budget and personnel, will be allocated across the product portfolio over a specific period. It can include a breakdown of resources by initiative or by product line.
- Risk analysis: Delivers an analysis of the risks and challenges that may impact the successful execution of the product portfolio roadmap. It includes a risk mitigation plan and contingency measures.
- Metrics and KPIs: Lists key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure the success of the product portfolio roadmap, including metrics related to revenue, customer satisfaction, and product performance.
- Conclusion: Summarizes the key takeaways from the product portfolio roadmap, including the strategic priorities, initiatives, and KPIs. It can include a call to action or next steps necessary to execute the roadmap successfully.
This modular outline can be customized based on the needs and priorities of the organization, and serves as a solid starting point for creating a comprehensive product portfolio roadmap that can adapt in real time.
Leading businesses rely on Productboard to build agile product portfolio roadmaps, fuel rapid growth, and get better products to market faster. Start a free trial today to discover how you can build actionable, transparent roadmaps that scale, streamline workflows and collaboration, and make data-backed decisions with Productboard.