The Guide on Creating a Product Roadmap and Why Your Startup Needs One in 2022

Product success starts from defining both the vision and strategy that lead the whole development process through milestones. However, many companies fail to distinguish the right goals and bridge the gap between determining strategy and delivery. The Annual Staples National Small Business Survey found that 80% of respondents don’t track their business goals while 77% of them have not yet achieved the vision for their business.

In this respect, a roadmap is exactly the tool every company needs to align its business strategy with the workflow. 

In this guide, we will explore the role of this critical plan together with the ways how to create a product roadmap and use it to organize the smooth-running journey from an idea to a working product.

What is a Product Roadmap, What are its Benefits & Which Tools do I need?

A product roadmap is a strategic and living document for the whole team to refer to during the product life cycle. It tells the product’s vision as well as defines its goals and milestones. Being visual and accessible in nature, it serves as a mind map for stakeholders and ensures that all teams, from software developers to top managers, are on the same page.

A well-designed product roadmap provides many benefits to startups, namely:

  • allows to articulate the vision and product’s value proposition, translating them into metric-based objectives;
  • provides direction and transparency within the development team;
  • helps focus on realistic, data-driven goals and areas with the best performance;
  • sets product priorities and adapts to customer feedback, ensuring that the team delivers the most value the fastest;
  • supports in making a project budget;
  • looks at all stages of the product journey, letting you see weak points from the outset.

With that said, product roadmapping is a high-level plan that gives businesses an evidence-based strategy to define better the tactic for product development, not just tasks to be done. 

To make a path from an idea to a successful product, companies actively implement roadmapping software and analytics tools, spending more than 30% of all product management budgets. And the demand for such solutions will only increase until at least the end of 2028.

Project managers often use a variety of roadmap templates. Managers’ choice depends on the specific functions and purposes of the product strategy execution. For example, the startup roadmap helps define initiatives and milestones for startup businesses.

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In addition, managers can list features, tasks, and group initiatives together into themes that are arranged in a priority hierarchy and thus answer the “why” question in advance and describe the customer value proposition. Themes may include timeframes like calendar quarters as startups should focus on dates as the primary measure of success.


In all cases, a product roadmap requires taking into account shifts in market or customer needs. Below, we’re telling the steps to build a product roadmap and how to get started with the development process. 

How to Build an Awesome Product Roadmap That Energizes Your Team & Meets Your Goals

Startups shouldn’t underestimate the importance of roadmaps for their product. Apart from setting goals and strategies, the latter help to determine where they are now in the context of target markets and avoid common causes of small businesses’ failure. 

The CB Insights statistics investigated the reasons why startups fail. The top-5 causes are, one way or another, connected with the poor business model, unclear insufficient knowledge of competitors and market needs, as well as inaccuracy in calculating funds and raising capital.

A well-designed and thoroughly planned roadmap can help eliminate these issues and bring the startup idea to life. Sure, there is no single way to create excellent products, yet it would be helpful to use the following steps when building a product development roadmap. 

1. Outline Product Strategy and Goals

To build a winning product strategy, startuppers should identify market problems and 

explore the target market on a deeper level. This investigation will result in selecting the right business model that includes product mission, details on customers, investments, competitors, etc. 

2. Elicit Requirements and Features Necessary to Meet Those Goals

Now it’s time to decide on features and functionality that will bring the product vision to life. 

A startup’s task is to select the best list of features that allows setting the product apart in the competitive landscape. Doing a detailed analysis of the primary and secondary competitors and conducting extensive research on what customers like and dislike about the competitors’ offers provide insights into where your solution fits within the broader market and what functionality might be useful to customers.

3. Estimate Timeframe and Establish Deadlines

Startup companies need to set measurable goals with clearly defined time frames and metrics. For example, we want to increase revenue by 20% in Q3, in the next quarter, or in a year. 

4. Define the Work Scope and Add up the Cost Estimates into the Budget

Next, it is essential to outline key tasks and break them down into manageable pieces and allocate the amount of work necessary for future building and management.

5. Include Dependencies and Risks

It is critical to perform crisis planning in roadmaps to avoid unexpected delays caused by changes in strategic time deadlines that may lead to disrupting the progress of the whole business.

6. Share the Product Map with Team Members Involved in the Building Process

The product map aligns the startup around a shared vision so it should be presented to all participants in the building process, including:

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7. Monitor the Progress and Be Ready for Changes

Startups should monitor the progress to understand which tasks work well, how many hours the building team spends on these tasks, and how many hours are left to complete them. 

Managers have to assess the expenses to make sure the project is staying within the scope and respond quickly to any issues that arise.

Roadmapping is rather an intensive and challenging effort that requires brainstorming, usage of the metrics (KPIs), fact-finding, knowledge of competitors or market trends, constant information monitoring, and many more. However, all these efforts help manage any type of complex project. 

Conclusion: Tips on Managing Complex Projects and Keeping on Track Using Product Roadmap

Managing complex projects is an art. However, working in cooperation with a dedicated team makes things much easier. Those startups that partner with an outsourced company for A-level research and choose a discovery phase for their startup product roadmap receive the best results.

The discovery framework often includes the following core stages:

  • Discovery kick-off process when functional, and non-functional requirements are elicited.
  • Creation of a feature list, user journey, and user story mapping. 
  • Product/solution backlog with initial backlog estimation.
  • Cost/budget proposal and project start.
  • Post-discovery activity to set up all processes from scratch.

Starting a project with the discovery phase is highly recommended for startups as it allows them to mitigate the risks of the product’s failure, reduce costs, and manage time and effort. If small businesses choose to collaborate with vendors, this stage will help analyze the company and its working methods, and get acquainted with the development team. 

It is clear that experienced vendors, usually listed on such platforms as GoodFirms or Clutch, already know how to create a roadmap, including:

  • information on what metrics (KPIs) to use;
  • primary market competitors;
  • advice on the right tech stack for product development. 

Even better, vendors have already created a team of experts and can provide portfolios comprising quality products that fit the needs of exact market niches.

With the assistance of such service provider companies, startups can have all tech requirement documents in place, decide on the right technology stack, and get an estimated timeframe to complete long-term goals with established deadlines and milestones.

Thus, a combination of well-defined product ideation and the right team can help yield the best results.

Jonathon Spire

Jonathon Spire

Tech Blogger at Jonathon Spire

My diverse background started with my computer science degree, and later progressed to building laptops and accessories. And now, for the last 7 years, I have been a social media marketing specialist and business growth consultant.

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Jonathon Spire

I blog about a range of tech topics.

For the last 7 years I have been a social media marketing specialist and business growth consultant, so I write about those the most.

Full transparency: I do review a lot of services and I try to do it as objectively as possible; I give honest feedback and only promote services I believe truly work (for which I may or may not receive a commission) – if you are a service owner and you think I have made a mistake then please let me know in the comments section.

– Jon