Why Do You Need Roadmapping Software?
Roadmapping software has emerged as a core need for the modern product manager. In a role that requires not only the creation of both a vision and a strategy for what to build and why, but also the communication of that vision to an endless sea of stakeholders, product managers must be able to quickly build roadmaps that are visual, compelling, simple to navigate, easy to customize, share, and integrate with the other vital tools within their toolkit.
While some software may try to cover the entire gamut of what a product manager might do on any given day, there are those tools that focus solely on roadmapping. This is for a good reason. The roadmap is the focal point around which everything else orbits. It is a strategic tool, a product management tool, a communication tool—even a visualization tool. As such, it needs dedicated features to support all of these important functions.
Today, we’ll be comparing two roadmapping platforms designed to do just that: ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk. Both founded in 2013, ProductPlan and Roadmunk offer software that makes it easy to build and share beautiful roadmaps.
Before we go any further, a quick note on objectivity. As a product marketer working for ProductPlan, you could argue that any competitive analysis I write about these two platforms will be biased. My mission with this piece is to be as objective as possible with the resources I have available. Education is a core function of what we do here at ProductPlan. We want to ensure product managers have the knowledge and tools to find the software that works best for their use case.
Now on to the comparison.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Ease of Use
When evaluating a new platform, the first impression usually isn’t whether or not the platform will help you achieve your goals (although that might be the most important consideration).
Often, the first impression is whether or not the platform is easy to use. It could have all the features in the world, but it won’t make a bit of difference if those features are hard to find if the controls are clunky, and the in-app onboarding is obtuse. Product managers are short on time, bandwidth, and often energy. As such, roadmapping software needs to be easy to adopt.
In the case of ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk, both do an excellent job of introducing you to the platform with the following features:
- In-app tutorials and help messages
- Roadmap template designed for your use case
- Contextual links to help articles on the support section of their website
Seen here below:
The ability to start with a roadmap tailored to your use case is a great way to get users familiar with the platform. This is specifically helpful for anyone who might be new to roadmapping or product management in general. They can use these templates as a framework for how their own roadmaps could be built and function as a great jumping-off point.
Roadmunk also features a nice additional option to view a real-world roadmap example for inspiration.
Both platforms also feature in-app tutorials but implement them in different ways. ProductPlan greets you with an optional 2-minute guided tour of the platform that does a good job highlighting all the primary features and functions before taking the training wheels off and allowing their users to explore independently.
Suppose at any point a ProductPlan customer wants to revisit the tour or access other tutorials. In that case, they can find them readily available in the bottom right-hand corner by clicking on the green light bulb icon.
Roadmunk similarly has in-app tutorials but instead surfaces them contextually when a new user clicks on a particular feature. This gives users guidance as they explore, which some who would rather poke around at their own speed might prefer.
Regarding how easy it is to build and edit roadmaps within each tool, let’s refer to Capterra, a popular site for software reviews and comparisons. Ease of use is one of the primary categories that factor into their overall score for a particular product.
Both ProductPlan and Roadmunk score well here, with ProductPlan having the edge over Roadmunk with a score of 4.5 (out of 5) to Roadmunk’s 4.3.
Looking at each feature set in combination with individual reviews gives us a glimpse into why ProductPlan has a slight advantage. Here’s a quote from Capterra:
Customers like ProductPlan’s drag-and-drop control scheme, which makes on-the-fly edits intuitive to create. Additionally, the ability to drag items from the sidebar, whether it be a container, bar, or even an item from the legend, makes building out a comprehensive roadmap a relatively quick process.
This isn’t to say that Roadmunk is challenging to use. Roadmunk also features the ability to move roadmap items around with ease, as this user calls out about in particular:
Where Roadmunk does run into some ease-of-use problems is in its performance. Several reviewers cite poor performance, long load times, and more that weigh down the overall experience.
Ease-of-use issues for ProductPlan mostly center on its simplicity, which occasionally doesn’t allow for more advanced use cases as we see here:
While both ProductPlan and Roadmunk feature similar control schemes and in-app tutorials, the performance issues that continue to gnaw at Roadmunk’s platform give ProductPlan the greater advantage here.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: User Interface (UI)
When it comes to the UI of a roadmapping tool, there are a few important considerations:
- Is the UI easy to navigate?
- Are the colors and fonts appealing to the eye?
- Is the information presented legibly?
- Do the roadmaps created with the tool look professional?
- Does the UI create moments of delight?
Some of these considerations are subjective. For example, a color scheme or font family that appeals to one person might be downright ugly to the next. So as we dig into the ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk UIs, respectively, we’ll stick to a more objective analysis centered around one primary question:
Does the UI of the tool enhance or detract from the user experience?
The Roadmunk interface is a lively place. The bright colors pop against an off-white background, visually categorizing roadmap items by ownership, goal, or theme. Bars pulse as you hover over with your mouse, helping users orient themselves within the UI. Arrows crawl across the screen, connecting bar to bar, illustrating dependencies.
The question, then, is, do these little “flourishes” within the UI help or hurt a user’s ability to use the tool? I think it depends. Some might enjoy a more animated interface, and certainly, anything that helps users identify the information they need is a good thing. But others might find these features, specifically the animations, distracting. There is still a degree of personal preference here.
There are also different flavors of Roadmunk’s UI, depending on the view you’re looking at. For example, in Roadmunk’s timeline view, roadmap items are represented as thin bars that stretch across the screen, with easy toggles at each end that allow users to extend or contract each bar as needed.
In Roadmunk’s Swimlane view, roadmap items are instead represented as cards that display a little more information outright without requiring users to click into each card individually.
Taken together, these differences are a nice visual touch that helps users distinguish between each view while also giving users a functional reason to look at one view over another.
ProductPlan’s UI also features bright colors that users can customize as they wish but lack some of Roadmunk’s UI animations. Overall, it’s a more static screen.
Like Roadmunk, ProductPlan also features two views, which ProductPlan refers to as Timeline and List View. But instead of taking Roadmunk’s approach, where each view is given its own UI, the Timeline and List view’s design is fairly consistent.
While you do lose some of the functional variations with this approach, the holistic standardization it brings to the roadmap helps users quickly understand what’s being conveyed regardless of the view.
What ProductPlan does skillfully is present information clearly and legibly. The way they visualize items vs. sub-items (in their case, containers vs. bars) helps users understand at a glance which items rollup into larger initiatives, as seen below.
There’s a good use of white space here too, which helps the roadmap feel less cluttered. Additionally, using different colors within a specific lane or container allows product managers to better track initiative goals, ownership, and more.
Overall, both UIs look great and function similarly with a few key trade-offs, namely function vs. design and variation vs. consistency. Which is better ultimately comes down to what you prefer.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Customer Feedback
For product managers, what gets prioritized on the roadmap is largely a result of customer feedback. Listening to your customer’s problems, understanding their goals, and measuring the impact of in-market products via customer sentiment are critical components of deciding what to build next or what to fix first.
Due to this, many product management tools have built features that help product managers capture customer feedback. For these features to be effective, they need to allow product managers to tap into the vast array of sources for customer feedback and then have a place for that feedback to be aggregated, analyzed, and then transitioned to the backlog (or deleted if found irrelevant).
Roadmunk delivers well here. Their platform includes a “feedback inbox” where customer-facing teams (sales, customer success, etc.) can submit feedback for product managers to review. Roadmunk has also built a Chrome extension that allows team members to capture feedback from popular tools like Salesforce, email, and more for ease-of-use.
From here, specific feedback can be assigned to a specific product or product manager and then linked to the product backlog for prioritization.
ProductPlan doesn’t support feedback capture, at least in this way. It features a Table View with both a planned and parked section. Still, this view is designed more for backlog management and prioritization—not capturing individual feedback ideas directly from customers. The Table View does make it easy to organize backlog ideas, with ways to categorize and sort items, however.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Prioritization
In comparing ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk, both have prioritization boards that feature pre-built frameworks and weighted scoring systems for helping users decide which backlog item makes it on the roadmap.
Using these boards, product managers can score backlog items according to a customizable set of benefit vs. cost categories. These categories could be aligned to essential company goals, like revenue generation and customer adoption, or known costs like development effort and maintenance. This feature is excellent for enabling product teams to consider all the essential variables that go into prioritization decisions while teaching new product managers how to score roadmap items based on tried and true methods effectively.
One advantage to ProductPlan’s prioritization board is the ability to create custom weights for each benefit or cost. For example, perhaps building features that generate revenue is less important than building features that increase customer adoption. If that’s the case, ProductPlan will allow users to assign weights that reflect each consideration’s overall importance to the company.
Overall, both prioritization boards work great, but the edge goes to ProductPlan for its additional customization options.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Roadmap Functionality
When we dig into the roadmaps’ functionality, we see a lot of parity between ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk. First, both focus on ease of use, with templates that allow product managers to avoid starting from scratch. Secondly, both include a Timeline View as well as a Swimlane or List View. Finally, both feature ways within their UI to track progress, set milestones, and illustrate dependencies.
You can find a full breakdown of roadmapping features below.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Feature Breakdown
Is there a clear winner here? Not really. How each tool goes about implementing the features above might differ subtly, but the end experience is largely the same.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Roadmap Sharing
While building a roadmap that effectively tells your product story is likely priority number one, we can’t dismiss the importance of sharing the roadmap to a broader audience or the ability to customize what you share based on the audience. When done right, your roadmapping tool should double as a communication tool.
Both ProductPlan and Roadmunk have taken that lesson to heart, with features to filter roadmaps for specific audiences based on goal, ownership, and more. The initiatives an engineer might be interested in tracking likely won’t be the same as a CEO, for example. Each platform also includes ways to publish the roadmap, either via URL links or in a PDF/PNG image that can be added to an email or presentation slide.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Roadmap Sharing Breakdown
While parity exists between most of ProductPlan’s and Roadmunk’s sharing and publishing features, there is one crucial difference to note. ProductPlan offers unlimited viewers across all of their pricing plans.
This means an organization doesn’t have to pay for additional licenses just so team members can view and comment on existing roadmaps. This is especially important for larger organizations that have a variety of stakeholders that might need to view and approve roadmap initiatives.
In contrast, Roadmunk charges an additional $5 per viewer (note: they call viewers “reviewers”).
Roadmaps provide the most value when shared, and ProductPlan’s allows organizations to share their roadmaps with more people at a lower cost.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Integrations
Roadmapping is merely a piece (albeit an important one) of a much larger set of strategic activities that product managers are invariably responsible for. This may include planning sprints, gathering customer feedback, validating product-market fit, and communicating with various stakeholders within their organization. For each activity, a product manager will often use a tool, be it Jira, Azure DevOps, and even Slack.
If the product roadmap is to be your source of truth, your roadmapping tool must be able to capture the additional work happening across your toolkit when relevant. Here’s how ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk’s integrations with other product management tools stack up.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Integration Breakdown
Both ProductPlan and Roadmunk feature a native Jira and ADO integration, which allows product managers to connect their overarching product strategy to the daily objectives necessary to execute it. It’s a natural synergy, one that reduces the amount of manual updating required to ensure both tools reflect the same data.
In both cases, the integration is primarily used to sync fields between tools using a two-way sync. That means that sprint planning information can be pushed into ProductPlan and Roadmunk, or the inverse; updates made to your roadmap can be pushed to your delivery tools.
Jira isn’t the only integration product managers ask for. Other tools, such as GitHub,and Trello, are popular additions to a product manager’s toolkit. ProductPlan offers native integrations for many of these tools, the full list of which you can see above. To integrate these same tools with Roadmunk, you’d have to install their API and build a custom integration yourself, provided you have the time and development resources to do it.
ProductPlan also has an API for anyone that would like to build a custom integration not listed above.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Data Organization and Flexibility
Both tools feature a wealth of ways to organize the information and data one might want in a roadmap. With each tool, you can organize your roadmap items by the project owner, by the team, strategic objective, completion status, line of revenue, target audience, product line, and more.
Both tools also feature lanes, legends, and columns that can be adjusted to have more than one category of information represented and cross-referenced. This ensures that both tools code information in the ways that best suit the product manager’s individual needs.
However, the ability to “pivot” this data is one major difference between ProductPlan and Roadmunk. Roadmunk offers it. ProductPlan doesn’t.
Data pivoting refers to the ability to shift data represented as rows to columns (in a spreadsheet, for example). In the case of a roadmap, select almost any standardized field and represent it as a lane. For example, you could switch your lanes to the product owner and see what individual contributors to your roadmap have in their queue.
On the one hand, data pivoting gives product managers a good degree more flexibility in the different views they can create within their roadmap.
But there’s a tradeoff here. The more ways a product manager can orient their data means more variations of roadmaps, which can create issues with consistency and standardization in larger teams.
If you need the extra data flexibility, then Roadmunk is the way to go here.
ProductPlan vs. Roadmunk: Pricing
When it comes to pricing, Roadmunk features four pricing plans (billed either annually or monthly):
- Starter: $19 per month
- Business: $49 per month
- Professional: $99 per month
- Enterprise: Contact sales
ProductPlan features three pricing plans (billed either annually or monthly):
- Business: $39 per month
- Enterprise: Contact sales
- Enterprise Plus: Contact sales
Both tools also offer a 14-day free trial.
Four plans vs. three with slightly different naming conventions makes comparing pricing between these two tools seem more complicated than it is. Roadmunk does offer an additional “starter” plan for individuals. Still, otherwise, for the sake of simplicity, you’ll want to compare ProductPlan Business vs. Roadmunk Business, ProductPlan Enterprise vs. Roadmunk Professional, and ProductPlan Enterprise Plus against Roadmunk Enterprise.
Comparing plans along those lines, Roadmunk is the more expensive tool to start. Their Business plan is $10 more expensive than ProductPlan’s. Moving through the more expensive pricing plans, ProductPlan adopts a “contact sales” approach which suggests some room for flexibility depending on your use case. Roadmunk does this too, but only on their final Enterprise Plus plan.
Roadmunk is also more restrictive than ProductPlan, depending on the pricing plan. Notice how they restrict reviewers, API access tokens (for integrations), file attachment size, products supported, and custom weighted factors depending on which pricing plan you’re on.
ProductPlan doesn’t restrict access to its tool, nor does it limit the use of most features within its tool by pricing plan (the sole exception here being its MS Teams integration).
Both ProductPlan and Roadmunk provide additional administrative features for their higher-priced plans, as well as enhanced security. Better training is also reserved for those willing to pay more.
For a detailed list of what you get with each plan, check out each pricing plan and compare.
Overall, in most cases, you get more for less with ProductPlan, so they grab the edge here.
There are quite a few roadmapping tools in the market these days. Which you prefer will ultimately be determined by functionality, feature set, design, and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
If you want to pay more for a tool with better feedback capture, greater data flexibility, and a more animated UI—Roadmunk may be the way to go.
If you want to pay less for a tool that’s easier to use and learn, offers more integrations with more tools, and doesn’t charge you every time you want to share your roadmap with someone else in your organization—ProductPlan is your best bet.
Click the link to try ProductPlan’s 14-Day Free Trial.