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Roadmapping your way to a successful product launch

A plan of action. A strategy. A roadmap. Call it what you will, effective planning is imperative to delivering a project of any complexity. Despite how casual you may consider your venture, it’s never too casual for a defined, measurable plan! I wanted to share the most effective format I have found for product development, which is based on a ‘Roadmap’.

What is a roadmap?

The term has become somewhat of a buzzword even in mainstream media, after the UK announced their ‘Roadmap to Covid recovery’. It is essentially a chronological, visual strategy that highlights activities, areas of business, people and resources over time. It provides a concise way of visualising your plan, with key phases, milestones and deadlines.

You may be familiar with its less-glamorous predecessor, the humble ‘Gannt chart’. Despite its success with communicating strategy to large teams or organisations, I still find it really useful even as a personal strategy document. It’s also a great follow-up to your ‘21st century business plan’, the Business model canvas.

How it can elevate your project

It’s not hearsay – working in a strategic manner is so much more productive than to muddle through. It will allow you to hold yourself accountable, share your vision with others, juggle multiple tasks and most importantly build your activities around defined milestones. Taking these steps will reduce the likelihood of surprise setbacks and maintain a predictable course of action.

How you can build a roadmap

It’s good to note that this is a document that details ‘what’ and ‘when’, not ‘how’ to execute. You should accompany this with a descriptive execution plan on how you and your team will conduct those activities.

Forget the paid subscriptions for online roadmap tools, these are pretty unnecessary as a small team and designed for big firms. While you can create one in your planner or on a whiteboard, it’s still worthwhile having a digital copy. I have provided a template Google Sheets Roadmap, which you can download and use for free. I kept the template fairly straightforward and it’s designed for individuals or small teams.

How to use it

In the spreadsheet, you will see two tabs; one ‘example’ and one ‘blank’ tab, with respective information on them. Use the example page for inspiration, and create a personal roadmap in the blank template.

Disclaimer: This document presents an example of the product dev process and not an exhaustive list of phases!


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