What Is a Roadmapping Tool?
A roadmap is a strategic blueprint that captures and communicates the basic plan and goals for a project. A roadmapping tool can be used to create, update, and share this document, typically in a visual way.
What Are the Different Types of Roadmapping Tools?
Businesses use a variety of tools for roadmapping. Some use productivity software, such as apps for spreadsheets or slideshows. Others use project management or task tracking software. Some teams write out their roadmaps on office whiteboards, or even using a pad and pen.
These methods have one thing in common. They were not designed with the unique needs and goals of roadmaps in mind.
More recently, purpose-built roadmapping tools have become available. The makers of these software applications set out to help teams easily build, view, update, and share their roadmaps.
What Are the Benefits of Purpose-Built Roadmapping Tools?
1. They present strategies and plans visually.
Roadmaps should communicate strategy and plans at a high level. The most effective way to do this is to make them visual documents that an audience can digest and understand at a glance.
You can add color, differ the font sizes, and use other formatting techniques to make a spreadsheet more visual. You can also create a visual roadmap using presentation software. The drawback of these tools is that they need many manual steps to output a visual roadmap.
Purpose-built roadmapping tools have the visual elements built into their apps. Roadmap software makes it easy to use color-coding, add legends, and arrange the roadmap view into major themes, swim lanes, and timelines.
2. They make it easy to display different levels of detail.
Software designed for spreadsheets, presentations, and word processing creates static documents. Using tools like these, a product manager who needs to present the same roadmap to different audiences will need to manually create several versions of the file.
Also, during these roadmap presentation meetings, if an audience wants to see information not in the current view—or to hide some detail to focus only on the big picture—the product manager will need to show them another version of the roadmap altogether. Even that version might not display the level of roadmap detail the stakeholders want to view.
With a roadmapping tool designed for roadmaps, on the other hand, you’ll be able to display or hide details in real-time, with a click or two. If someone wants to view only the major themes, you can show only those. If they ask to see the epics and other details within a theme, you can click into that theme and display those on the roadmap as well.
These capabilities come in handy when you need to present a roadmap both to your developers (who will want more detail) and your executives (who will want a high-level focus).
3. They’re easy to share.
This is another disadvantage of the standard tools that teams have historically used for roadmapping. When you create a roadmap in a spreadsheet or on a whiteboard, you’ll have difficulty sharing it.
But with a native roadmap app, sharing the roadmap is easy. The person maintaining the roadmap can simply invite the right people or teams to view it online, and then send them all a link to the roadmap.
Also, because the roadmap will live in an app online, the team doesn’t need to worry about different versions of the spreadsheet or presentation file floating around the company. They won’t have to wonder which roadmap file is the most current.
The roadmap app will always serve as a single source of truth for the company’s strategic plans and goals.
Even better: If you can integrate your roadmap app with Slack or a similar collaboration tool, you can automatically notify all relevant stakeholders anytime you make an update to your roadmap.