In addition to communicating with stakeholders frequently throughout the product planning process, successful product managers know how important it is to share their product roadmap with internal stakeholders. Sharing the roadmap with different teams such as sales, executives, marketing, and engineering is part of the job.
If your audience is comprised of executives, your goal will likely be to get them to buy in to your strategy or green-light your plans. If your audience is some other segment of your organization, your goal will likely be to communicate product direction and build consensus.
In either case, you need to be clear and persuasive, so stakeholders walk away understanding your strategy and agreeing with your priorities.
And, as we mentioned in previous chapters, whatever format you choose to make roadmaps in, you should create and maintain multiple versions of your product roadmap. This way, you’ll always have quick access to the right roadmap view and the appropriate level of detail for a given audience.
You never know, after all, when someone will ask you to share your product roadmap with them. And when they do, you want to share the most relevant information in an easy-to-understand manner.
Here are some pointers for sharing your roadmaps with a handful of typical audiences:
Sharing Your Product Roadmap with Engineers
Your development team spends much of its time focusing on the ground-level details. They often have tasks set for them that only go a few days or weeks out—small stories, bug fixes, minor tweaks, testing, etc.
It’s easy for these teams to lose focus on the product’s bigger-picture objectives, and that can mean you’ll lose some of the unique perspectives these professionals can bring to your product.
So when sharing your roadmap with your developers, you’ll want to help lift their gaze up every now and then to see the big-picture strategic view.
Your developer-focused roadmap view should include some higher-level strategic information. But it also needs enough tactical detail that they understand what they’ll be working on in the near or medium-term.
Sharing Your Product Roadmap with Executive Stakeholders
On your executive-facing roadmap, you’ll want to provide a supplemental view to the big-picture work they’re constantly focused on. Give them the chance to see how the work that needs to be completed in the near-term will help to realize their long-term vision.
You might say to your executive team, “As you know, this is our five-year vision for the product. And we’ll get there. But let me walk through what we’re planning to accomplish in the next year. We are working both to generate revenue today and to move us closer to that longer-term objective.”
Of course, even with a one-year view, you’ll want to use details sparingly. Your executives probably aren’t going to be interested in hearing about your plans for resource allocation or dependencies among small initiatives. So keep the tactical details to a minimum here. Present just enough information to visually walk through the key milestones slated for the coming year.
Sharing Your Product Roadmap with Your Sales Team
Your sales team will always be focused on how your product is going to help them make sales. They won’t care about which development teams you assigned to which epics or features. Or how much initiatives are going to cost to develop. Leave these details out of the sales view of your roadmap.
Instead, when you share your roadmap with sales, you’ll want to focus on upcoming features. You’ll also want to include right on the roadmap itself your strategic reasoning for every feature you’ve prioritized.
One word of caution, though, is to be careful about dates. When you include a date on a product roadmap—even if you clearly explain it’s only an estimate—at least some of your reps are going to treat it as an implied promise. So be careful about including dates on your sales-focused custom view roadmap.