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Creating a Product Roadmap in Excel

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a comprehensive, visual overview of your product plan. It should include the overall goals and objectives of the product, anticipated release schedule, product features, start and end dates, and projected costs. A key function of the product roadmap is communicating the overall product development and release to team members, upper management, and clients.

Quite simply, a product roadmap outlines what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it.

A product roadmap, however, is not the same as a project plan. Instead, it’s a high-level overview of a specific product that highlights both the practical and strategic aspects of a product offering. As such, a product roadmap should not include a specific list of tasks and deadlines, but a general overview of the work to be done and a basic schedule of when the work should be completed. A product roadmap is a live document—it should be updated as the product development progresses. Remember that your product roadmap is meant to be a bird’s eye view of the overall product development and should be able to give any stakeholder a snapshot of the product’s current status.

How to create a product roadmap

Creating a product roadmap might seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to start from scratch. This Product Roadmap worksheet from Spreadsheet.com can help you hit the ground running:

Product Roadmap with Gantt Template
Product Roadmap Template

You can customize it as you see fit, but remember – a product roadmap needs to include the steps outlined in the next sections.

- Identify your goals and objectives

The first step to creating a product roadmap is defining your product strategy. What do you want to achieve with this product, and how will you measure success? Goals and objectives for the product are ideally measurable and time-bound, with clearly defined success metrics. This section of your product roadmap should also include other high-level initiatives or work that needs to be completed to achieve the product goals. Additionally, aim to describe the product's purpose from an end-user perspective; in other words, how will this product benefit the client or the customer?

- Gather requirements

Next, you’ll want to identify all of the resources and materials necessary to successfully implement the product strategy. This includes identifying features of the product that will deliver value to users and determining whether any existing institutional resources (like other product components) can be repurposed for the current product development. You will also want to scope out the projected costs at this stage and determine whether the existing resources and budget will cover the product development.

- Establish a timeline

Once you’ve defined your product goals and objectives and assembled the requirements for the product development, you’ll need to identify a projected timeline complete with start and end dates and a tentative release schedule. Avoid the urge to assign start and end dates to specific tasks within the overall product roadmap, and remember that the roadmap should serve as general guidance for the product development overall, not as a compliance document with specific deliverables. Therefore, it’s best to set your timeline to months or quarters (rather than days or weeks) to allow for adjustments during implementation. 

There are many free templates to help you build a timeline in Excel, like this Excel project timeline template from Vertex42:

Excel project timeline template
Excel Project Timeline Template

- Gather feedback from stakeholders

One important step before finalizing your product roadmap is getting feedback from stakeholders, including the product team, upper management, and your clients. Your stakeholders will help identify important product milestones and dependencies in the work that may impact progress. They can also provide input on some of the finer points in the roadmap like timelines, costs, and resources. This feedback is essential for improving the product roadmap to ensure it is feasible, and will achieve the goals and objectives of the product strategy.

- Share your roadmap with stakeholders

The final step in creating a product roadmap is to share it with stakeholders. This ensures that everyone stays up-to-date as product development progresses. It also adds a level of accountability so that everyone is empowered to make sure that development stays true to the product strategy as outlined in the roadmap. Spreadsheet.com worksheets offer live updates, which allows everyone to see the most updated version of the workbook.

Additionally, Spreadsheet.com’s share and collaboration features allow teams to plan, manage, and collaborate on any project and never miss an update. 

Creating a product roadmap with Spreadsheet.com

Excel is often used to create product roadmaps since it offers a convenient way to organize all the information, and there are several Excel roadmap templates available. 

As a more nimble and powerful alternative, Spreadsheet.com has convenient product roadmap templates that take the work out of this project management stage. This Product Roadmap with Kanban Template lets you build your roadmap and view it as a Kanban board that displays your tasks in an easily digestible visual way:

Product Roadmap with Kanban Template
Product Roadmap with Kanban Template

This Product Roadmap with Gantt Template offers the same functionality, but adds a Gantt chart feature that allows you to see the timeline with milestones you have set in your roadmap.

Creating a product roadmap is essential for successful product development and launch. Although it can be a time-consuming process, using pre-built Excel templates or leveraging Spreadsheet.com’s template gallery can help get you up and running in no time.

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