All blog posts

Why You Need More Than a Product Roadmap Template

Product roadmap templates don’t uncover current revenue opportunities. A centralized roadmapping platform that extracts intel directly from your customers does.

Entrusting your next product launch to a product roadmap template is like navigating a foreign city with a map from the 70’s — you might get lucky, but the landscape’s likely changed. With the cost of developing and launching enterprise-level products surpassing the $10-million mark per launch, it’s a gamble most companies can’t afford to take.  

Whether you’re launching a new brand of healthy pop or a new feature for your cloud security platform, launches are most successful when you break down silos that exist between teams and the critical information — like customer feedback and revenue data — they need and keep your product roadmap alive. 

With a single platform that automates the trajectory from ideation and roadmapping to profitable products, you can skip your templates and instead use AI and automation to identify revenue opportunities validated by your customers and create a living, breathing roadmap.

Is a product roadmap template really what you need?

A product roadmap provides information on the product(s) being developed, the development timeline, objective and key results (OKRs), and the stages at which each stakeholder is involved. It’s more than just a checklist; it's your product development cycle put to paper.

Typically, a finished product roadmap effectively communicates the following:

  • Development milestones and goals 
  • High-level direction for execution
  • Internal stakeholder alignment 
  • Internal and external progress updates

But let's dispel a myth here: there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all "roadmap template." That's a fallacy. 

What some people refer to as “templates” are just different set formats for communicating roadmap information. And these formats are as varied as the audiences reading them. Regardless, the focus shouldn’t be on “template” as much as what “type” of product roadmap would work best for you. 

What type of roadmap should I use?

In deciding which type, or format, your roadmap should be to effectively communicate key information about timelines, objectives, and results across various digital contexts, you need to consider a few factors: 

  • Roadmap consumer — The intended audience a team lead, executive, or existing customer?
  • Project planning style — Are products developed in a series of Agile sprints or through the linear waterfall model?
  • Time horizon — How long will developing and launching the product take? Weeks, months, or years?
  • Form factor — Which visual format will you use to communicate information effectively?  

No “one-size-fits-all” template is going to accommodate that level of variability. That’s why it’s wise to rely on agile product roadmaps — product roadmaps that you can change and refine as needed, and format in accordance with who you’re communicating with.

The roadmap below from Aha is an example of what an agile software team would use to track the different feature sprints contributing to the overall product rollout.  

An Atlassian product roadmap based on the agile methodology

While the developer roadmap outlines when the product will (fingers crossed) be ready for release, you’ll need a higher-level version to get the rest of the stakeholders aligned with the release. For an executive audience, you’ll likely need a portfolio roadmap like the one below — it shows a company’s product development “portfolio” over the next few fiscal years.  

An Aha! product roadmap showing a portfolio approach to development

So, although the two roadmaps look similar and use the same Gantt form factor, they are very different in terms of what they convey. This variability is what makes it so difficult to create and share static product roadmap “templates.”

The pitfalls of relying on static roadmaps

The business world loves a nice template. Heck, everybody loves a template! Whether for emails, spreadsheets, or the creative process, people seek opportunities to increase efficiency — aka save time and money — with templates. Unfortunately, planning, developing, and launching new products isn’t one of these opportunities. 

Companies consistently miss out on revenue because they rely on shared drives and project management tools throughout development. Sure, these roadmap tools are flexible, cheap, and easy to use, but they also have some major drawbacks: 

  • No purpose-built integrations with developer tools 
  • No automation to speed up the roadmapping process
  • Difficulty standardizing usage across teams
  • Don’t allow for the dynamic nature of the product development process 
  • Manual entry and updates require data from various platforms
  • Hard to find and access crucial information

That’s not a recipe for success.

 McKinsey has uncovered a harsh truth about the development process: a staggering 40% of product launches are considered a failure by product teams. The challenges of launching new products bear out on the consumer end of the spectrum as well — according to Pendo, over 80% of all feature releases are never adopted by users. 

Companies invest blood, sweat, and tears into outdated products their customers won’t use. No wonder PMs aren’t feeling so confident: Their roadmaps quickly become obsolete as the industry trends in a new direction, competitors make an unforeseen move, or the larger market dynamics change. 

Product roadmaps made from Excel or PowerPoint templates aren’t designed for quick pivots in response to consumer demands. In a world where 40% of all new products fail to meet their revenue targets, relying on a static roadmap is akin to steering by the stars in an era of GPS — romantic, perhaps, but hardly practical.

The pitfall is clear: static roadmaps can't harness the power of real-time data, the lifeblood of any successful launch. They can't reflect the 10% increase in revenue growth that companies with adaptive launch capabilities boast. 

Why PMs need Ignition’s unified approach to product roadmapping 

All this roadmap templating isn’t patching over the cracks forming in the product development cycle. The pressure to balance consistent development with consistent profitability is intense. That’s where Ignition comes into play. 

Our platform uses AI to help you bring the right products to market. No more disconnect between product ideation, roadmapping, and launch. Here’s how Ignition creates a unified product development engine for all the overworked, overextended PMs out there. 

1) Create products and features users are willing to pay for 

Hopefully, we’re not breaking any new ground here, but the point of launching a new product or feature is to give your customers something they want

It’s not about satisfying leadership's desires or sticking to a roadmap six months out of date. Unfortunately, according to a 2023 Product Management Report, only 26% of surveyed PMs use customer feedback as a key product development driver. That’s a whiff on the softest of softball pitches.   

Companies can struggle to identify the most pressing user needs. Not because the company doesn’t have client data and feedback but because it’s siloed away and PMs lack easy access. Ignition simply uses AI to extract new product and feature ideas based on stated customer needs and conversations recorded on your CRM.

When you give customers what they want — and are probably asking for right now — there’s lots of money to be made. 

Ignition's product management platform includes an AI-generated ideas backlog

2) Get executive signoff with revenue-driven roadmaps

Depending on the industry, the cost of new product development can run from 5-figures to well over 6-figures. Hours spent researching and estimating the ROI of tentative projects only expand these costs. 

Your product team needs to demonstrate the ROI potential to gain approval more quickly and maintain (or gain) a competitive advantage. Fast.

With Ignition, product managers use AI to forecast projected revenue by extracting the new products and features that will unblock deals from your existing customers and leads. It helps you squeeze all the juice from your customer conversations and support tickets. 

Ignition will even extract the specific deals in your CRM currently blocked by a feature gap so executive stakeholders can easily identify the return of specific product investments — less time convincing, more time creating. 

Ignition displays the projected revenue impact of a product that unblocks a deal

3) Take a portfolio management approach to product development

Static product backlogs may have been based on accurate data at one point, but by the time you circle back for the next update, things have inevitably changed. 

Ignition makes updating the product roadmap easy by consolidating static roadmaps into a single list of revenue-boosting opportunities — all proposed products and features in one place for all PMs and PMMs to access. Good luck finding a template for that. 

Ignition's AI automatically populates your product or feature backlog with key data from your sales, customer success, and marketing platforms. Now you can rank your products or features according to the metrics that are most important to your company, such as:

  • Projected revenue impact 
  • Projected profit margins
  • Projected effort and cost
  • Customer satisfaction metrics
  • Voting board results

Ignition’s platform keeps revenue front and center so you can maintain and adjust your product roadmap in a results-oriented and effective way. 

Ignition's product roadmaps are highly customizable and leverage automations and AI insight

4) Share the right information with the right stakeholders

Product roadmaps initially live with and are owned by the product team, but they are also copied, reformatted, and shared with various departments and stakeholders throughout the organization. You end up with drives full of roadmap versions with increasingly long names that need data manually adjusted to maintain relevance. 

Executives want quarter-by-quarter cost estimates, product marketing wants development milestones, and customers want exact rollout dates. Good luck keeping all that straight — where’s that single source of truth everyone’s always talking about? 

Ignition lets you view all roadmaps through a single dashboard that includes all the information stakeholders need to understand feature selection:

  • The persona or customer type who needs the feature
  • Competitor solutions and how you stack up against them
  • Links to other documents containing context and data 

 It uses AI automation to populate easily shareable battlecards with all the context and information internal stakeholders like go-to-market leaders or sales need to understand how to displace the competition. You can select the relevant KPIs for external updates and ship an automated update on preferred platforms like Slack and Gmail.

For a full look at how Ignition helps you create and optimize your product roadmapping process, check out the demo video below: 

Create revenue-focused product roadmaps using Ignition’s AI-extracted customer intel

Enterprise teams and customers are upset about the current state of product development for a reason — product launches are falling flat. 

Ditching static product roadmap templates and working instead from a central, dynamic platform ensures investments are based on customer needs (and future revenue). 

With its balance of artificial intelligence and automation, Ignition helps you drive ROI across all aspects of your product campaigns, with dedicated features for product roadmapping, management, insights, and analysis. 

If your company is struggling, remember: it’s probably not your product; it’s your process. Set your next launch up for success with our AI-assisted product management tool