You may have seen many roadmap templates. They are more or less the same with little differentiation. So what makes each unique? The answer is none other than the customization of it. You must be thinking… isn’t customization the same as personalization? To some extent, customization is similar to personalization in the sense that it is making a template appropriate for your organization. However, there is more to it than just changing names and pictures of milestones or product/feature images.
Customizing a roadmap template requires more consideration of the process and best practices. For example, do your customers want to see a functional roadmap? If so, how about the non-functional requirements? Should you incorporate them as well? What do you need to map that out on a roadmap template? These questions will help you understand what information should go into a template.
1. Identify Your Audience And The Format You Will Use
The audience and format of your roadmap are the basis for deciding what content should go into it. You may want to use a product roadmap template or something similar to a Gantt chart for an event presentation or in a group discussion. As such, the format may be different with a focus on different aspects of your product/feature. If it is an event presentation, you are more likely to create something visual. On the other hand, if it is helpful in a meeting, then words will work better. Either way, the decision on the format is up to you.
2. Identify The Main Areas Of Your Feature or Product
Roadmaps are not supposed to be all about everything in your overall product or feature. They are supposed to give an idea of where things are heading. You can start with a checklist from the high-level view and drill down from there. When you identify the areas, think of the information that needs to go into your feature or product roadmap example.
3. Map The Information For Each Area Identified In Step 2
After identifying what information should go into a roadmap template, link it to each area on your product or feature. Which events would you like to present? Do you need to show all the detail or just the milestones? These are questions you should ask yourself. From a presentation perspective, it might be enough if you only show the milestones without any details. On the other hand, for internal use in meetings, you may want to go deeper down your area(s) of interest.
4. How To Present Your Roadmap Slide
After you have customized your roadmap template, it is time to present it. The format will depend on the audience and the format you used in step 1. For example, if you are presenting to suppliers or partners, then visuals will work better than words. If it is for internal use in a meeting, then words will work better. View some examples on Venngage.
5. Do Not Make It Too Complex
After the effort you put into customizing your roadmap template, it is tempting to make it too complex with everything on it. Although that may be useful to you down the road, during the presentation or meeting, people are likely not to read through everything. Therefore, you must prioritize what goes into your roadmap template by limiting its content to the essentials.
6. Remove Any Opinionated Content
It is easy to get attached to your roadmap templates as they are customized for you. However, if there is too much-opinionated content in it, then stakeholders may view it with skepticism. The best way to avoid this is by not including those items that are specific to the organization only. Keep that information for internal use only.
7. Keep The Format Consistent
The last thing you want in your roadmap template is confusion. Thus, you must maintain the same format throughout its various versions to avoid any issues with brand consistency and messaging. Follow a process when updating (customizing) the roadmap template such as:
- Map out all changes to create a clear list.
- Verify that each change is accompanied by a business reason (need).
- Check that the changes will not cause any backward compatibility issues.
- Ensure that you are making forward-looking assumptions in your roadmap template were necessary to avoid any surprises down the road.
8. Show It To Others Before Publishing It
The last step to customizing a roadmap template is to show it to others for review when you have finalized the changes. That way, you can get their feedback and avoid any issues with your customized roadmap template later on when you need to share it with stakeholders.
Customizing a roadmap template requires careful thought to ensure that it provides an idea of where you want to take your product/feature without overwhelming the audience with too much information. Keep in mind the intention, format, and audience will help you customize your roadmap template.