Understanding The Different Types Of Product Roadmaps


  • The importance of choosing the right types of roadmaps

  • The 4 important types of product roadmaps

  • Selecting the ideal roadmap

  • The advantages & considerations

  • Implementation of the best practices: 6 key steps



Choosing the right type of product roadmap is not just a matter of preference, it’s a strategic decision that can significantly impact the success of your product management strategies.

Product roadmaps provide an actionable framework that help steer your product growth, articulate your product’s vision to stakeholders and align cross-functional teams to achieve common goals.


The main challenge in selecting a specific type of product roadmap to utilise is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to suit every kind of scenario. 


Different types of roadmaps cater to different needs and stages of your product development lifecycle.

This in-depth article aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the different types of product roadmaps and how they can be used. 


You’ll learn how to choose the best roadmap type for your specific project, to ensure you are able to achieve your product goals and business objectives.


We’ll also provide you with some practical tips and best practices for creating and implementing product roadmaps into your product development strategy.

Examining different types of product roadmaps with the team

The Importance Of Choosing The Right Types Of Roadmaps

Choosing the wrong type of product roadmap can have many negative impacts on your product development and management process. Some of the possible consequences of selecting and utilising an unsuitable roadmap type include:

  • You can lose sight of your product vision and strategy, leading you to focus on delivering features that ignore customer needs or business goals.

  • You can create unrealistic expectations and commitments, making it hard to adapt to changing market dynamics or project requirements.

  • You can overwhelm or confuse stakeholders and teams with too much detail and complexity, by failing to communicate your product goals effectively.

  • You can waste time and resources on creating and maintaining a roadmap that does not reflect the actual state and progress of your product.

Therefore, it’s important to choose the right type of product roadmap that suits your product’s goals, scope and stage of development. 

The 4 Important Types Of Product Roadmaps


There are many types of product roadmaps available, each with its own distinct purpose and focus. Depending on the scope of your project, you may need to use a specific type of product roadmap to achieve your desired outcomes.


Below we will explore each type of roadmap in more detail to give you a better understanding of their unique characteristics, benefits and applications.

1) Feature-Based Roadmap

Feature-based roadmaps show the planned features and functionalities of your product, along with their estimated timelines and dependencies. They are typically displayed on Gantt charts or Kanban boards, or in a hybrid format that combines components of both.

Feature-based roadmaps are usually organised by release dates or sprints, and typically include elements such as user stories, epics or tasks.

Use cases of feature-based roadmaps

Feature-based roadmaps are useful for communicating your product’s scope and deliverables to stakeholders, especially the development team and customers. 


This is because they show the specific features and functionalities that your product will offer and when they will be available.


They are also helpful for planning and managing the product development process, as feature-based roadmaps provide a clear and detailed breakdown of the work needed to be done.


Feature-based roadmaps can increase the transparency and accountability of the product development process — as it shows what features are being worked on, when they will be delivered, and how they are related. 


They can also boost customer satisfaction by showing the value and benefits of your product’s features, and how these features specifically address your customer’s needs or pain points.

2) Theme-Based Roadmap

Theme-based roadmaps show the high-level themes or problems that your product aims to solve, rather than the specific features or solutions. 


They are usually organised by strategic objectives, customer segments or user journeys, and typically include elements such as hypotheses, experiments or outcomes. 


Theme-based roadmaps are often presented as a roadmap canvas, storyboard or map.

Use cases of theme-based roadmaps

Theme-based roadmaps are useful for communicating your product’s vision and value proposition to stakeholders, especially executives and investors. 


This is because they show the high-level themes or problems that your product aims to solve, and how the product can deliver value to customers.


They are also helpful for validating and discovering the best solutions for the themes you are addressing, as theme-based roadmaps provide a framework for experimentation and learning.


Theme-based roadmaps nurture innovation and creativity in the product development process by fostering the exploration of diverse ideas and approaches for each area of focus that you are tackling.


They can also align your product strategy with market needs and opportunities, as they place a strong emphasis on addressing user problems and the achievement of desired outcomes.

3) Technology-Based Roadmap

Technology-based roadmaps outline the planned technological advancements and enhancements for your product — encompassing architecture, infrastructure, security and performance.


They are usually structured around technical domains, components, or layers and typically include elements such as technical requirements, specifications, or adherence to industry standards.


Technology-based roadmaps are often presented as a diagram, flowchart or matrix.

Use cases of technology-based roadmaps 

Technology-based roadmaps are useful for communicating your product’s technical strategy and roadmap to stakeholders, especially the engineering team and the technical experts. 


This is because they provide a clear and concise visual representation of the product’s technical requirements and objectives.


They are also helpful for identifying and addressing the technical risks and dependencies of your product, as technology-based roadmaps provide a comprehensive and systematic overview of the product’s technical aspects.


Technology-driven roadmaps can improve the quality and reliability of your product development process by anticipating technical challenges, identifying potential roadblocks and formulating robust solutions.


They can also enhance your product’s performance and scalability by giving you the ability to leverage technological advancements, uncover untapped potential, and implement targeted optimisations.

4) Goal-Based Roadmap

Goal-based roadmaps map out the planned achievements and strategic aspirations for your product — including revenue expansion, user engagement optimisation and increased customer satisfaction.

They are commonly organised by key performance indicators (KPIs), quantifiable metrics or aspirational targets, and typically include elements such as strategic actions, key milestones and projected outcomes.

Goal-based roadmaps are often presented as a dashboard, scorecard or chart.


Use cases of goal-based roadmap

Goal-based roadmaps are useful for communicating your product’s business strategy to stakeholders, especially the leadership team and other key decision-makers. 


This is because they help you translate abstract business goals into concrete and measurable targets, providing a clear understanding of the product’s intended impact and progress.


They are also helpful for measuring and tracking your product’s effectiveness in the market, as goal-oriented roadmaps provide a data-driven and evidence-based evaluation of the product’s performance.


Goal-based roadmaps serve as compelling evidence for your product’s value and success by demonstrating its tangible achievements and quantifiable outcomes.


They also promote greater alignment and collaboration throughout the product development process by emphasising shared goals and collective success.

Talking about a product roadmap framework

Selecting The Ideal Product Roadmap


Choosing the right type of product roadmap is a pivotal decision that significantly influences the success of your product development initiatives. 


By comprehending the strengths and limitations of each roadmap type, you can align your strategies with your product’s specific requirements, organisational objectives, and market dynamics.


There is no single roadmap type that is universally effective; the most suitable choice will vary depending on the unique circumstances of each product development initiative.


Some of the factors that to consider when choosing the most suitable roadmap type include:

A) Product maturity

The stage of your product’s lifecycle can influence the type of roadmap that you use, because the maturity of your product often dictates its needs and objectives.


For example, if your product is new or in the early stages of development, you may want to use a theme-based or a goal-oriented roadmap, as they allow you to explore and validate your product’s value proposition and market fit. 


On the other hand, if your product is mature or in the later stages of development, you may want to use a feature-based or a technology-based roadmap, as these types of roadmaps help you prioritise feature delivery and functionality enhancements.

B) Market dynamics

The level of uncertainty and volatility in your product’s market can influence the type of roadmap that you use, because market dynamics can affect the degree of flexibility and adaptability that your roadmap needs to have.


For example, if your product operates in a stable and predictable market, you may want to use a feature-based or technology-based roadmap, as they provide a clear and detailed plan for your product’s development. 


However, if your product operates in a dynamic and unpredictable market, you may want to use a theme-based or a goal-oriented roadmap, as these types of roadmaps enable you to adapt and respond to changing market conditions or customer needs.

C) Organisational goals

Organisational goals can influence the type of roadmap that you use, because these goals often steer the strategic direction of your product.


For instance, if your organisation prioritises innovation and growth, theme-based or goal-oriented roadmaps are well-suited, as they foster creativity and encourage a holistic approach to product development.


Conversely, if your organisation emphasises quality and reliability, feature-based or technology-based roadmaps are more appropriate, as they prioritise performance improvements and scalability.

why market research is important

The Advantages & Considerations


Each type of product roadmap has its own advantages and considerations that should be weighed before choosing the most appropriate one for your product or project. 


Here are some of the pros and cons of each roadmap type, along with some real-world examples for their applications.

Advantages & considerations using a feature-based roadmap

Key advantages of a feature-based roadmap:

Feature-based roadmaps provide a detailed view of your product’s features, making it easier for the development team to understand what needs to be built.


Clear expectations: By outlining specific features and their timelines, these roadmaps set clear expectations for stakeholders, reducing ambiguity.


Prioritisation: Feature-based roadmaps help you prioritise feature development based on their impact, feasibility, and alignment with business goals.


Customer-centric: These roadmaps are often customer-centric, focusing on delivering features that meet customer needs and enhance their user experience.

Considerations for using a feature-based roadmap:

Lack of flexibility: These roadmaps can be quite rigid, making it difficult to adapt to changes or new information.


Overemphasis on features: There’s a risk of focusing too much on features at the expense of the overall product strategy.


Communication challenge: They can be overwhelming for non-technical stakeholders due to their level of detail.

Real-world application of a feature-based roadmap

Microsoft 365 is an example of a product that uses a feature-based roadmap to communicate its upcoming features and updates to its customers and stakeholders. 


Their roadmap shows the features that are in development, rolling out, or launched, along with their release dates and descriptions. 


The roadmap also allows users to filter by product, platform, and status and provides a feedback mechanism for users to share their opinions and suggestions

Advantages & considerations when using a theme-based roadmap

Key advantages of using a theme-based roadmap:

High-level overview:
Theme-based roadmaps provide a high-level overview of your product’s direction, making it easier for stakeholders to understand the product strategy.

These roadmaps are more flexible than feature-based roadmaps, allowing for adjustments as market conditions or strategic priorities change.

Focus on goals:
By grouping features into themes, these roadmaps help you maintain focus on the product’s strategic goals rather than individual features.

They are simpler and less technical than feature-based roadmaps, making them more accessible to non-technical stakeholders.

Considerations for using a theme-based roadmap:

Lack of detail:
These roadmaps may not provide enough detail for the development team to understand exactly what needs to be built.

The high-level nature of these roadmaps can lead to ambiguity, making it harder to set clear expectations for stakeholders.


Prioritisation challenge: Prioritising themes can often be more challenging than prioritising individual features.

Real-world Application of a theme-based Roadmap

Spotify has successfully employed a theme-based roadmap to steer its product development and innovation endeavors. 


This approach, aligned with Spotify’s vision of becoming the world’s premier audio platform, revolves around three core themes: ubiquity, personalisation, and monetisation. 


Each theme encapsulates a strategic direction, guiding the product team’s initiatives and experiments.

Advantages & considerations for using a technology-based roadmap

Key advantages of using a technology-based roadmap:

Technical Focus: Technology-based roadmaps focus on the technological aspects of your product, making them ideal for planning and coordinating technical work.

Infrastructure Planning: They provide a clear view of the planned technology or infrastructure changes, aiding in resource allocation and timeline estimation.

Risk Mitigation: By outlining upcoming technological changes, these roadmaps can help you identify and mitigate potential risks early on.

Stakeholder Alignment: Technology-based roadmaps can help align both technical and non-technical stakeholders around the technological direction of the product.

Considerations for using a technology-based roadmap include:

Limited of Context: These roadmaps might not provide enough context about your overarching business objectives or effectively communicate the user value for planned technological changes.

Complexity: Technology-based roadmaps can often be complex and difficult to understand for non-technical stakeholders.

Rapid Change: Technology changes rapidly, so these roadmaps may need to be updated frequently to remain accurate and relevant.

Real-world application of a technology-based roadmap 

Netflix’s technology-based roadmap plays a pivotal role in shaping its engineering practices, emphasising the importance of full-cycle developers and their involvement in the entire product development lifecycle. 


This approach ensures that developers have a comprehensive understanding of the technical challenges and opportunities, enabling them to make informed decisions and contribute effectively to the roadmap’s evolution.

Advantages & considerations for using a goal-oriented roadmap

Advantages of using a goal-oriented roadmap:


Strategic focus: Goal-oriented roadmaps focus on the strategic objectives of your product, aligning all efforts towards achieving these common goals.


Adaptability: These roadmaps are adaptable to changes in market conditions or strategic priorities, allowing for flexibility in the product development process.


Stakeholder alignment: By focusing on high-level goals, goal-oriented roadmaps can help align all stakeholders around a shared vision.


Long-term planning: Goal-oriented roadmaps are ideal for long-term planning as they outline the strategic direction for your product over time.


Considerations for using a goal-oriented roadmap:


Feature overlook: While goal-oriented roadmaps align development efforts with specific objectives, they may overlook the development of features that could provide additional value to users or address emerging market needs.


Complexity & oversimplification: Defining and measuring goals can be complex, and the roadmap may oversimplify the product development process by focusing solely on goals without considering the intricacies of implementation.


Limited scope: Goal-oriented roadmaps may have a limited scope, focusing primarily on the defined goals and not providing a comprehensive overview of your product’s overall development plan.

Real-world application of a goal-orientated Roadmap 

Airbnb is an example of a product that uses a goal-oriented roadmap to communicate and execute its product strategy and vision. 

The roadmap shows the product’s goals and outcomes, such as increasing bookings, revenue and customer satisfaction. As well as the product initiatives and experiments that the product team is working on — such as launching new experiences, expanding to new markets, and improving the user experience. 

The roadmap also shows the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that the product team uses to measure and track the product’s goals and outcomes — including the amount of income earned by Airbnb hosts in the last ten years, the number of cities where Airbnb rentals can be found, and the number of guest check-ins.

outcome based roadmap

Implementation Of The Best Practices: 6 Key Steps

Once you have selected the most suitable roadmap type for your product or project, you need to implement it effectively within your organisation. 

This requires effective communication and cross-functional collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the product development process. 

Here are the 6 key steps and best practices for implementing your selected roadmap:

Step 1: Define the scope and purpose of the roadmap 

Before creating the roadmap, you need to define the scope and purpose of the roadmap — this means figuring out who the roadmap is for, how far into the future it goes, and how much detail it includes.


This will help you tailor the roadmap to the needs and expectations of stakeholders, to avoid confusion and ambiguity.

Step 2: Gather the relevant data and information

To create the roadmap, you need to gather the relevant data and information that support your roadmap type — such as customer feedback, competitive intelligence, market research, technical analysis or defined business metrics. 


This will help you validate your assumptions and hypotheses, and provide evidence and rationale for your roadmap decisions.

Step 3: Choose the appropriate format

To present the roadmap, you need to choose the appropriate format or tool that matches your roadmap type — such as a Gantt chart, roadmap canvas, diagram or dashboard. 


This will help you communicate your roadmap clearly and enhance your roadmap’s usability with stakeholders.

Step 4: Share & update the roadmap regularly

For effective implementation, it’s crucial to consistently share your roadmap with stakeholders and keep it up-to-date. This practice encourages feedback and suggestions, allowing you to make necessary adjustments to your roadmap when needed.


Step 5: Use a product roadmap tool

Consider utilising a dedicated application for crafting, disseminating and updating your product roadmap.  This approach can streamline the execution process and guarantees that everyone has access to the most recent iteration of the roadmap.

Step 6: Be flexible

While a roadmap provides a plan for the future, it’s important to remain flexible and be prepared to make changes if necessary. 


This is particularly important in a fast-paced environment where technological advancements and market conditions can change rapidly.

Concluding Thoughts

Each type of roadmap has its own strengths and certain limitations.


A well-chosen roadmap can provide clarity, align teams towards a common goal and serve as an effective communication tool between stakeholders involved in the product development process.


A well-planned roadmap can help you prioritise tasks, manage resources efficiently and adapt to changes in the market or technology landscape.


On the other hand, a poorly chosen roadmap can lead to confusion, misalignment, and wasted resources. 


Understanding the different types of product roadmaps and choosing the right one for your specific needs is absolutely crucial. 


Selecting the right roadmap can sometimes be the difference between developing a product that thrives and one that barely survives.