What Are Roadmap Milestones?
A roadmap milestone is a date signaling an event or deadline that the product manager wants the team to be aware of.
These milestones might relate directly to the product’s progress—such as a release date. They might also represent a date that the team needs to keep in mind as they work on the product. Imagine an industry tradeshow approaching, and the product manager wants to have a demo version ready to show attendees at that event.
How Do Milestones Differ From the Rest of the Roadmap?
A roadmap is a strategic guide for a complex project, such as building a product. It does not include the day-to-day tasks needed to complete the project. Most of the elements on a standard roadmap—such as themes and epics—will not have specific dates. Instead, they will be represented as bars or containers spanning a general timeframe on the roadmap.
Milestones are unique on a roadmap in that they do not span any timeframe. They are simply events or deadlines represented by a single date.
What Are Common Examples of Roadmap Milestones?
Product managers can add milestones to their roadmaps to share any important dates with their team. Some common examples include:
- Product release
- Feature release
- Sales team kickoff
- Industry event (such as a conference or tradeshow)
- End or beginning of a key timeframe (such as a fiscal quarter or year)
All of these are important dates for the product team to keep in mind as they make progress on the product.
Two Tips for Using Product Roadmap Milestones
1. Use them sparingly.
Milestones should stand out on a product roadmap. To give them the right amount of impact, you will want to include only a few milestones at a time.
(To see roadmap examples showing milestones used correctly, you can view our Adding Milestones page.)
If you include too many milestones on your roadmap, they can lose value. The milestones should grab attention because they are important to the product’s strategic plans. Reserve your milestones only for major events and deadlines, such as the ones listed above.
2. Push the dates out as far as possible.
For some milestones, you will have no choice about which dates to use. Your company won’t have any control over when an industry conference takes place, for example. Even internal dates, like your sales team’s annual kickoff event, might not be an event you can move.
But for those milestones where you do have control, you’ll want to leave as much lead time as you can. You might not even want to assign dates to these events at first.
For example, at the start of a new year, you might want to list your next planned major release as “Q2” or “by end of Q1.” No need to commit to a specific date such as February 12. Wait until making such a date public within your company has some strategic value.
Then, as your team makes progress and the date nears, you might want to add a specific milestone. But do this only when you can satisfy these two criteria:
1) You have confidence your team can meet or beat this deadline.
2) There is a strategic benefit in adding a milestone. For example, to help your sales team get ready for the product’s general availability.
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