Roadmapping tools are popping up all over the place to help a PM transform their product vision into a visual product roadmap (and, hey, we even made a handy guide to help you find the best tool for your team).
However, there are still PMs that are hacking together makeshift product roadmaps using a combination of spreadsheets, slides and calendars. This results in a "roadmap" that is finicky to keep up-to-date and U-G-L-Y to look at.
A beautiful, crystal-clear visual product roadmap is a powerful communication tool.
And thanks to product roadmapping tools and apps, they can be created, managed and collaborated on in one place. Not convinced? Keep reading!
Your colleagues will consume / understand visual information way faster than text
We won't get into the science of this BUT human brains do understand visual information quicker than they do text.
And taking the time to create a visual product roadmap is an opportunity to use design elements to turn your vision into a plan that is easy for your audience to understand.
The use of colour, symbols and other visual cues can communicate what text can—but a whole lot quicker.
For example, a timeline roadmap clearly and quickly communicates how long individual tasks or projects will take to complete. Or a swimlane roadmap can communicate who is working on what just as clearly and quickly.
[PODCAST] Listen to Roadmunk’s Latif Nanji talk about how our roadmaps empower product managers to have the tools to explain their decisions.
But that's not all! A visual product roadmap can use color to tell a story. Since a roadmap can have web of connections between items, color-coding items can visualize relationships or groups.
Be strategic and assign colors specific meaning that will help get your strategy across to your audeince.
A common color-code is item status. A simple three-color palette—red for backlog, yellow for progress, and green for done—is enough to concisely convey progress and identify bottlenecks.
You can also use symbols to mark milestones and key dates to add an extra layer of context and detail to your visual product roadmap.
At Roadmunk, we like to use Milestones for high-level achievements that are important for company alignment, while Key Dates are more granular and are meant to align at the project team level.
We like to call this type of roadmap planning "information design." Read all about here.
An app-based visual product roadmap is easy to keep up-to-date and share
Sure, you can probably hack together an okay-looking roadmap using one of the popular slideshow or document-crafting tools...
But it will be static and difficult to keep up-to-date as your product strategy changes and evolves. It will also be not-so-easy to share.
Your stakeholders and executives are most likely going to want to see regular updates on how your product and strategy are progressing.
Roadmapping tools (like Roadmunk 😉) streamline this whole process. These tools prodvide editing and colloboration capabilities to make sure that your whole team can augment your roadmap as necessary.
You can also share a linko to your visual product roadmap with each of your stakeholders—and features like real-time publishing will make sure that their link will never be stale.
Ready to start roadmapping? Get started with our product roadmap template and make it your own.