Product Roadmap in 6 easy steps: How to build one for the app development process?

Product Roadmap blog
Mobile App Development

Product Roadmap in 6 easy steps: How to build one for the app development process?

How’s it going, product people? I hope everything is fantastic and smooth. 

Let’s get going to learn; what the product roadmap is and how you can build it for your app development team? 

There is no easier way to understand it than taking a reference to a practical situation. I mean, assume a situation like this – you decide to go on a trip or any destination of your choice. 

What do you do?

You make a plan or develop a strategy and follow it.

Why? 

Because that’s what you desire and want to reach your destination on schedule without wasting much of your resources. Right?

Hence, that “plan” or a “way” or a “strategy” is the product roadmap that gives you the results you asked for.

Let’s extend the above situation and understand it more clearly. 

So, the options are many in a roadmap to reach your favorite product destination for a memorable trip. 

For instance, if you want to go to Washington DC from New York, there are many ways – a single car navigating a lonely highway, following a group of bikes, airways, boats, mopeds, and even trucks. And the one with the least overall cost, time, and high safety, you go by that because that’s the practical way to save more and have a lot of fun without big blunders.

Similarly, suppose you’re into business (especially budding startups and small businesses) and want to achieve the desired success without losing much of what you have. In that case, you need a robust roadmap to build a product and commercialize it in the world market successfully. 

A product roadmap is necessary and the backbone of every great team of developers because it’s the best source of truth that guides everyone – from software engineers/developers to stakeholders – where they’re going and why they’re going that way.

What is a product roadmap? What is the goal of a roadmap? What is a roadmap for? And what belongs on the roadmap? 

So let’s answer those questions and tackle this topic. 

But before we get any further into this blog post, let’s have a look at what else this article includes –

Table of Content

  • What are product development and product roadmap?  
  • Types of product roadmaps
  • Is a product roadmap necessary for product development?
  • What is the app development process?
  • The relationship between product roadmap and app development
  • Six easy steps to create a robust product roadmap for app development
  • Product or app development examples
  • What value will your product bring to the market?
  • How does the product roadmap affect user experience?
  • Best free product roadmap-building tools.

What are Product Development and Product Roadmap?  

A product roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and direction of your product’s offering over time. It communicates what you’re building and, more importantly, why your product roadmap has a handful of goals. 

In general, a product roadmap has five things to do –  

  • To describe the product strategy and vision
  • It has to act as a guiding document on how you’ll execute that strategy and vision.
  • A product roadmap works to get alignment from your stakeholders.
  • It facilitates a conversation around scenario planning. 
  • A good roadmap communicates with your external stakeholders and your customers.  

So the goal of the roadmap is to describe, guide, align, facilitate, and communicate. And its primary purpose is to make things easier to understand for the stakeholders and the development team. 

But remember, your product roadmap is not a list of features. It’s not a product management tracker, especially not a backlog. That’s because they’re all missing this key ingredient, and that’s the strategy to develop a product roadmap – mention the factors that directly affect the overall product. 

Now that you are familiar with a product roadmap and what it does do. Let’s know; what is product development?

The product development process may seem mysterious, but it simply refers to making a product and taking it successfully to its market. 

Additionally, it covers –

  • Renewing the current product, 
  • Putting an old product in a new market,
  • Identifying what market needs,
  • Putting a lot of thought into conceptualizing the product,
  • Building a roadmap for the product, and
  • Finally, launching the actual product and gathering feedback from a broad audience.

Note: This process never ends; it isn’t over until the product life cycle is over. You have to continuously collect the users’ feedback and perform iterations on new product versions to enhance them by adding new features.

On the one hand, a product roadmap guides engineers, developers, and the sales team. Product development is a vast and complete process – for an early-stage business or an established corporation – that brings together every internal team/department – UI/UX design, engineering/ software development, product marketing, manufacturing, etc. 

Each team plays an essential part, from design and build to testing and delivering the working product.

Till now, I hope you’re with me. 

So, let’s see the ‌different types of roadmaps. 

Types of Product Roadmaps

There are two categories of product roadmaps, and based on their use, they are further explained. 

The two broad categories are –

  • Internal roadmaps, and 
  • External roadmaps.

The internal roadmaps are in concern for –

Internal development team – This roadmap is mainly about sprints that enable the agile development team to get accurate task areas while defining the bottlenecks within a specific time frame. It is also a document that sets the priorities of value delivered to customers, finite product release dates, and milestones achieved.

Internal product management team – This roadmap focuses on the company’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and how well a business achieves its high-level objectives. You can easily organize this document within a month or quarter timescale since it mainly includes fewer details on the development process. And allows you to forecast a product’s global progress.

Internal sales team –  Such a roadmap is always about new opportunities and providing a better customer product value proposition. This roadmap is suitable for presenting to your dedicated audience during a marketing campaign, which results in helping you increase engagement and boost sales.

External roadmaps

These roadmaps are perfect for including features in a product based on customers’ feedback on new product releases. 

The only thing you need to keep in mind is that it is eye-catchy/visually appealing, uncomplicated, and straightforward to read. Because it helps you get your customers/users engaged in your product’s future and its overall development.

It’s all you would need to know regarding roadmaps, but is it all necessary?

Let’s see!

Is a Product Roadmap Necessary for Product Development?

The straight answer is a big yes!

Because your product roadmap is the strategic document to visually communicate your product’s vision and your product portfolio with a dedicated target audience, stakeholders, and cross-collaborators.  

A single source of truth – a product roadmap – should have themes, epic stories, and eye-catchy features. 

The beauty of a product roadmap is that you can create a portfolio view and then create different roadmaps for different product lines or depending on who your viewer is.  –

It would help if you made the roadmap with a viewer in mind. 

So let’s quickly see the various stakeholders you might be presenting to on your executive-level roadmap.  

You would want to focus on high-level concepts like – 

  • Customer satisfaction growth
  • Newmarket penetration
  • Churn anything that communicates how your product is connected to business goals 
  • Outcomes. 

This is usually a more comprehensive roadmap than your engineering roadmap. An engineering roadmap is much more granular in scope.  You want to be as transparent as possible on the engineering roadmap. 

So it includes things such as – 

  • Release dates 
  • Features 
  • Sprints 
  • Milestones on your sales roadmap. 

But you would want to exclude release dates. Because this is a document that the sales team uses with prospects when they communicate the benefits of what’s coming down the pipeline with your product.  

And then last, you have your external roadmap. And this one should be as visual as possible because people want to know what you’re doing later down the line. 

Now, you clearly understand what a roadmap is and how it is way different from product development. 

Let’s dive into the typical process of app development.

What is the App Development process?

Developing or creating mobile and desktop apps refers to building software applications intended to run on smartphones or mobile devices to ease daily business operations. They are optimized so that people can take advantage of their unique features and associated hardware.

There are three broad areas in which the app development process is classified –

  • Development of Native apps, 
  • Developing hybrid apps, and 
  • The development of apps based on HTML5 (for trendy websites and progressive web apps).

Moreover, the world market for the development of mobile apps is set to grow to nearly $693 billion by the end of 2022. It’s because of the exploding popularity of tablets and mobile phones. And because the number of smartphone users is so high worldwide and tech consumers are detaching themselves from desktops, mobile app development is at its peak and is an increasingly popular medium for developing software.

So, here is the simple and easy step-by-step app development process to employ –

The First Contact – Once you get the client’s request, make the first contact to hear their inspiring idea and ask them for a product requirement document so that you can make your team ready to land your client’s dream into reality.

The Discovery Phase – When you are all in with the product requirement document and your team is ready to work on it, then comes this discovery phase in which you do research and analysis, getting your team to know the client’s needs and simultaneously begin the wireframing for the app with the help of UI/UX design team. 

UI/UX Design – The moment wireframes are ready, begin designing trending user personas for the mobile app/web app. And once the designs are prepared, put mockups and prototypes of the plans before clients for approval. 

Kick-Start Software Development – Once the development team is aware of the app’s inspiration, idea, and vision, break down the mobile app project into chunks (small incremental builds) using agile methodology – Sprints, conduct 1:1 meetings with clients at least twice per two weeks to avoid miss-happenings. You can also employ Jira (a robust project management tool) to manage the whole app development process. 

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Q/A – Every company from any industry employs this step to thoroughly check the quality of the developed product and test it before officially launching it on an App Store for people, which comes in Q/A testing. And it also makes the app stable, usable, and secure since you will have the user feedback once you make it available for a few people (it comes under UAT). 

Official Release of the Product – Now that you’re all set with an app, it’s time to launch it on an App Store for all users to download, install, and start using.  

But remember, just providing an app is not the end of the app development process. You have to keep the “Post Development Support” in mind and make it available once the app is live on an App Store. 

And instead of making it someone else’s job, take full responsibility so that your client’s app successfully reaches its audience and simplifies their lives. Besides that, focus on helping your customers with app maintenance and other activities whenever a need knocks on your doors.

And if you keep the above steps in mind, creating a one-of-a-kind mobile app (or an MVP, a minimum viable product with essential features to test your idea and inspiration in the market) at an optimal cost is possible within a defined deadline. 

And if you can integrate the product roadmap with the app development process, boom! You’re unstoppable since it will help your dev team guide what is required and how they can achieve it in no time. 

So, let’s go ahead and know it.

Guide to mobile app development

The Relationship between Product Roadmap and App Development

When you are into developing a mobile app from scratch, it has its specific pitfalls. And you inevitably come across issues of converting the initial idea into a working strategy.

Also, the app development process deals with multiple iterations.  And that’s why a product roadmap for developing mobile apps is crucial and plays a vital role in the result will look like – Yes! Because of the user experiences.

And we have already learned that the product development roadmap is a strategic and dynamic document (that is, easy to follow and flexible to edit kind of roadmap) that guides the development plan for your product. 

Hence, a product roadmap for the mobile app development serves various functions –

  • Facilitating work on a product internally – A mobile app development roadmap is like a bridge between the inspiration of building an app and desired business goals. 
  • Helps in streamlining and establishing effective communication with external stakeholders.
  • A product roadmap easily relates to all investors, contractors, and end-users.
  • It allows you to have info on changes and advances of the product in line with market needs. `
  • A comprehensive app development helps you prioritize dedicated development units and defined deadlines. 

A clearly and accurately compiled product development roadmap is necessary for the navigation of the product development process by enabling you to focus on short, medium, and long-term goals, what features of the app should be in priority, and how to go around managing stakeholders’ expectations while working on the project.

Six Easy Steps to create a Robust Product Roadmap for App Development

6 easy steps in product roadmap

1. Putting a lot of thought into idea generation

When you see a lot of ideas and competition in the same niche, you get worried – how am I going to come up with something that will run in the market? 

Well! Yes, there will always be copy-cat ideas, but a slight difference in the execution part and how you approach that idea of yours will allow you an edge to make your way to develop a perfect product you should sell. 

And if still you find it difficult and waiting for an aha moment, there are a few websites that you can explore to come up with an original product idea.

You can use the following website for analyzing online markets and product descriptions to get inspired and reinvent historical trends –

2. Performing extensive market research in Product Roadmap

Once you have invested a lot of brainstorming to develop a product idea, you may quickly want to enter its production phase, but it will be a misstep if you don’t validate it first.

And that’s because product validation allows you to create a product that people love to have and pay for. Moreover, it results in no waste of time, money, and effort on an idea that has little to no market. 

Following are the ways you can use to validate your product ideas – 

  • Let family and friends hear your opinion about the idea.
  • Put out an online survey using any third party to gather feedback from a substantial and unbiased audience vital to your idea – whether they would buy your product. 
  • Begin a campaign to crowdfund the project. 
  • Ask for more feedback using social media platforms like Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Use Google Trends to perform market research to know the demand.
  • Launch page website spreading the message – “Coming Soon” to gauge people’s interest or do it via email opt-ins and pre-order options. 
  • Invest in running a feasibility study or an assessment in which you can directly ask people whether it’s worth investing in your proposed idea. 

Note: Product validation ensures you create a product people love to have and willing to pay for. 

3. Effective Roadmapo, planning and prototyping

In the development process, the prototyping phase aims to help you put a finished product on the desk to use as a sample for mass production. And developing a product right from scratch can become complicated quickly. So, it’s essential to think and take your time for planning before you push yourself to build a prototype.

It’s easy to get lost in the approach if you don’t have a concrete idea of designing your product and how it will function once built.  In this case, the best thing to do is to use a whiteboard or pen and paper to draw a rough but detailed sketch (with labels explaining the various features and functions) of your idea and observe how it will look and work if brought to life. 

The drawing or the sketch does not have to be perfect since all it has to do is to enable you to begin planning what you will require to develop the product.

Moreover, it’s doubtful you will have your finished product in the first attempt because prototyping involves experimenting with various versions of your product idea. And then gradually eliminate options that hinder its development, and make necessary improvements based on some feedback until satisfied. 

Along with planning and prototyping, you’ll also need to start testing a minimum viable product (MVP) at this stage of product development. The MVP is a version of your product with essential features for early customers to use. It helps generate feedback that you can use to validate a product concept in time and make incremental improvements to the product to develop something more valuable for your target market.

4. Excellent sourcing in Products

Once you have a product prototype you’re satisfied with, it’s time to gather the technology stack and developers and secure the partners needed for its development or production. 

You can call this step – building your supply chain; since you need the front-end and back-end software developers, UI/UX designers, engineers, marketers, promotional activities, and other resources required to create a product that goes to customers.

While investing in all such resources, sourcing several options creatively and thoughtfully is an integral part of strategic thinking that safeguards your business for the long term.

While you invest time and energy in the sourcing phase, you find yourself stuck deciding whether to develop the product locally or overseas. Kindly leave it to the client to determine (or invoke this thought to explain its advantages and disadvantages while interacting). It is always good to put these options before clients to choose accordingly. 

For sourcing the production of your app and websites, you can approach any mobile app development company from countries like India, Canada, UAE, Singapore, Ukraine, etc. They will help you out with top-notch app development at minimal costs.

Note: Each journey to a finished product is different during product development.

5. Estimating the involved costs in Product Roadmap

Once you’re over with the market research, product planning and prototyping, and sourcing, the picture is clearer of what it will cost to give life to your theoretical idea. Costing involves – information gathering about costs related to required resources. 

You can begin by creating an Excel Sheet/Spreadsheet. This sheet can include all app development costs, including listing your app in an App Store.

6. In-time delivery and commercialization

Once you are all in with a profitable and successful product ready for the world, the final step in the product roadmap is to introduce the developed and tested product into the market and start implementing activities related to its commercialization. 

Don’t sweat it if you have no budget for expensive ads. Instead, run a successful go-to-market strategy by using the following tactics –

  • Use social media to make people aware of your beautiful product and explain clearly what it does and how people can benefit from using it. 
  • Establish connections with working influencers by sending emails about your product launch and investing in affiliate marketing campaigns.
  • Get your product featured on online video streaming sites like Vimeo, YouTube, Twitch, gift guides, and various other digital marketing means like enable Instagram Shopping or Business, WhatsApp Business, etc., to run Chat Marketing campaigns. The best part of this kind of marketing is that you get quick reviews from early customers, so you have enough time and data to work on and then come up with changes in the product. People love it. 

Product or app development examples

Education

From the dawn of mandatory degree courses, the education industry has gone through many changes and come a long way to cater propelling skill development of individuals seeking to thrive, excel, and make a career out of the niche they love. 

You can easily comprehend it by Googling and observing the boom level they have achieved recently. This industry’s estimated worldwide market value in 2030 will be about – US$ 10 Trillion and is growing at 4.5% CAGR and making up over 6% of Gross World Product (GDP).   

There is a massive possibility in this area to do business and help people with solutions they need, from Digital Content Mobility, Test Preparation Applications, Cloud-based Learning, and Management systems to Quizzing & Brainstorming Apps, etc. 

If you want to help, possibilities are abundant! 

Following are glimpses of such works –

  • YouTube
  • Coursera
  • edX
  • Udemy
  • Simplilearn
  • Quickly
  • Byju’s
  • Skillshare
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Pluralsight

And so on.

Food and Beverage

Food and beverage products. It is easy to start with and is an evergreen business that you can begin developing at meager costs. You can even start from the comfort of your own home! 

And app development companies can help such people and businesses make an impact like Zomato and Swiggy.  

Media and Entertainment

Media and the entertainment industry are way bigger than you can ever imagine. And the most mind-boggling part is that it is evolving like no other industry and at a very rapid pace. 

The app development solutions, distributors, media houses, the music industry, and the game industry innovate day and night to convey unequaled amusement to people.

Moreover, the pandemic, Covid-19, has reaffirmed the inevitable change that it’s bringing.

With a D2C (Direct to Consumer) model, you can offer your customers new packages and conditions, from everything-you-can-eat access to any kind of digital content. 

For instance, The OTT platforms – Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+Hotstar, etc.  

Travel and Lifestyle

Thanks to internet connectivity and high-end intelligent devices, the last two decades have witnessed the tourism, travel, and lifestyle industry’s complete overhaul. The people in the world are now more connected than ever before.   

Easy-to-use options in mobile apps have made it easier for people to instantly know anything about the world. 

This effect of digitalization is evident everywhere, and travel and lifestyle are no different. Technology has completely changed the world order, and people are entering ‌the new world order that is tech-driven. Even physical bookings at travel agencies are almost obsolete. 

Hence, as an app development company, you can enrich people’s lives by providing them with innovative travel or lifestyle apps and ideas to move their experiences to a futuristic level.

Below are the features that you can count on to set a roadmap for a successful app –

  • Intelligent booking system
  • In-app cab booking capabilities
  • Search engine optimization, i.e., specificity in everything
  • Geolocation functionality and associated features to explore the destination
  • Weather/climate  forecasting
  • Streamlining of transactions, i.e., ease in making online payments
  • Amazing incentives and discounts
  • Social travel planning options
  • Trip reviews

And more such features.

Following are the apps that are making waves –

  • Wanderlog
  • Hotel Trivago
  • Skratch – Build your own Skratch map
  • Sygic Travel Maps Trip Planner
  • MakeMyTrip
  • Airbnb
  • TripAdvisor
  • TravelSpend: Track Travel Expense & Trip Budget
  • Get the Flight Out
  • IFTTT
  • Yahoo! Weather
  • Swarm
  • Foursquare City Guide

Healthcare

As technology advances and the human population rises, healthcare needs better solutions to tackle problems like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

An app developed for users will help them effectively manage their medical conditions, fitness goals, hospital visits, or even insurance claims.

Moreover, the pandemic has taught us how significant digital transformation is.

Following are a few examples of healthcare apps for you to get inspired –

  • Johns Hopkins ABX Guide
  • WebMD
  • UpToDate
  • Medscape MedPulse
  • First Derm
  • Zoc Doc
  • Doctor on Demand
  • Epocrates

What value will your product bring to the market?

Giving life to an idea that works is altogether different, and each journey or our main topic of discussion – the roadmap in product development- is unique. That’s how every industry/company/product makes its place in the market and impacts human life. 

And if you desire to figure it all out, remember each product (whether it’s great or not) that you have used had to overcome some challenges that you may never come to know.

But you can follow this article’s simple, easy-to-grasp step-by-step methodology to implement the roadmap while undergoing the product development process. 

You can break down the overwhelming task of bringing a new product to market into more digestible phases, making mobile app development more accessible, straightforward, user experience-oriented, and effective. 

No matter what you’re creating, you can always set yourself up for a final product that people embrace – by using all the preparation as needed—research, plan, prototype, source, and cost.

How does the product roadmap affect user experience?

App developers and UI/UX designers should include factors that determine how features affect the user. A product roadmap is always in line with market demands and new technological advancements. Hence, it affects the user experience.

Most app publishers only include critical features and avoid those needed.

A product roadmap directly affects users’ behavior. 

To understand it better, let’s say you know that an existing app will come up with some significant updates or new features in a few days; then, you’re most likely to buy that idea right away without blinking your eyes.

Also, when there is so much competition around every corner, creating a roadmap based on your planned marketing activities and how you plan to take advantage of user engagement is more than remarkable.

You can use the following aspects while creating a product roadmap that is UX oriented –

A rise in user engagement rate –  If you can develop an app that users are eager to explore, keep up with the latest updates and changes, and would love to spread the word around, you have touched their nerves. 

Note: Don’t worry about users coming from another platform, or they wouldn’t give preference to your app. Instead, they will probably use your app if you present them with a strong reason.

Increase in user retention rate – User retention is crucial to your app’s and your business’ success. Thus, creating a dynamic roadmap that favors users by availing new but lovable features, updates, or changes at certain intervals will make your users come back for more. 

For example; let it be in the product or app description – 

“The app constantly evolves according to your needs – keep giving your love and support. Extraordinary things are on the way!”

The above quote has incredible chances to increase the user retention rate, provided you give users what you say or promise. Users are savvy; never underestimate them or understand them as a bunch of fools!

It saves money & provides better services – Suppose there’s no functionality in your app to upload images, photos, or videos directly from the device’s Gallery to any cloud service like Google Photos. 

And, if you offer it in an easy-to-use service with some added features before your competitors do, your users will love it and would like to have something more. 

You have the upper hand over your competitors, and users will be happy that you care about offering more than other apps. 

But, never forget, competition is always healthy for mobile app developers.

Keep on building awesome apps!

Best free product roadmap building tools

Building a product roadmap isn’t as easy as a YouTube video shows; instead, it’s complicated and requires the experience of several individuals invested in bringing an idea to its life, like Thomas Edison got the idea of the light bulb to put household to live. 

But as trends and technologies are expanding and industry leaders work towards less human interference in making products, there are a few tools ‌ you can implement to create a practical product roadmap.

Here are a few examples of the best free roadmap tools –

  • LoopedIn
  • ClickUp
  • StoriesOnBoard
  • Asana
  • Craftwork
  • Coda
  • Wrike

Now, I’m going to stop right there. 

All the roadmap ideas I just discussed are enough to start your roadmap journey. I hope you enjoyed this blog and would like to clear your doubts (if any) from the FAQs mentioned below.

Product development FAQs

What is the product roadmap and development process?

The product roadmap refers to a dynamic document that guides developers and other various stakeholders to develop a product that people love to buy. 

In contrast, the development process is about a business organization’s step to launching a finished product into the market. 

The product can be a completely new introduction to an old one in the market or renewing an old product.

How to generate new product ideas?

Below is the algorithm that you can use to come up with unique ideas –

  • Brainstorming exercises
  • Taking customer feedback/reviews
  • Analyze your competitors
  • survey your audience
  • Effective use of social media
  • Focus on B2B wholesale market
  • Test your hypothesis (Concept testing)
  • Read more online consumer trends 

Are both product development and product management different things?

Product development and management are different and equally important things and have other but essential functions to perform. 

But for many teams, the line between product management and product development can quickly become blurry. 

Product management is all about managing the jobs or tasks assigned to individuals. In contrast, product development is an engineers/developers struggle with an extensive task list that is not prioritized by any strategic criteria. 

What are the crucial stages in the app development process?

The essential app development stages involve –

  • First Contact; asking the client for the product requirement document 
  • Discovery Phase; explore what requirements are 
  • UI/UX Design; Start wireframing and designing 
  • Software Development; assign tasks to developers using agile methodologies – sprints.
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Q/A; performing quality tests and asking users whether they like a specific feature
  • Official Release of the Product; officially publish the app on an app store, do ASO (App Store Optimization), marketing, and provide post-development support.

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