A Manager’s Guide to Roadmaps Creation and Presentation

A Manager's Guide to Roadmaps Creation and Presentation

When you have a new project underway, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the overall scope of planning and the optimal execution sequence. Where should you begin? What timelines are realistic? How can I break down my vision for the team? These are the common questions managers have and a roadmap is a tool manny chose to turn the project pre-planning chaos into clarity.

What is a Roadmap?

Traditionally a road map is a navigational tool, showcasing all the roads in the area for motorists. But more recently the “roadmap” term found a footing in the business world — specifically, in project management and software product design.

Thus, here’s a more business-oriented roadmap definition:

A roadmap is a high-level document, outlining the overarching direction of a planned initiative. Placed on a timeline, a roadmap specifies the main goals, steps, and milestones of the project.

Unlike more rigid strategic plans, a roadmap is an evolving document. It should be revised, updated, and improved as you move ahead with the execution or obtain new market data. 

The underlying purpose of any type of project roadmap is threefold: 

  • Serve as a reference point of main goals and objectives 
  • Inform all project stakeholders about the important milestones 
  • Communicate how short-term efforts align with long-term business objectives 

However, you should remember that business roadmaps are more than project trackers or visual to-do lists. It’s a higher-level document acting as “a single source of truth” when it comes to making day-to-day lower-level decisions and determining the priority of various tasks and activities. 

Types of Roadmaps 

Roadmap planning is a highly versatile planning technique, applicable across different industries and functions. Below are several common types of roadmaps plus examples. 

Product roadmap 

A product roadmap is a reference document for the team, specifying product vision, direction, priorities, and development vector over time. 

Product roadmap examples:

Example of Presentation of a Product Roadmap
Example of Roadmap – Monzo Product Roadmap

Product roadmap templates from SlideModel:

Technology roadmap 

A technology roadmap is a document or diagram showing the technology adoption, investment, and upgrades plan for a company. 

Example of Technology Roadmap Timeline design for presentations
Example of Technology Roadmap. Source: GE

Technology roadmap examples:

Technology roadmap templates from SlideModel:

Program Roadmap

A program roadmap is a visual reference showcasing the main planned activities for a specific corporate or public program. Unlike the earlier two examples, a program roadmap has a wider scope and can include several sub-roadmaps, pertaining to specific processes such as technology adoption, product development, marketing, etc. 

Example of Corporate Roadmap Presentation
Corporate Roadmap PowerPoint Template by SlideModel – Example of Program Roadmap

Program roadmap example: 

Program PowerPoint roadmap templates from SlideModel:

Other Popular Types of Strategic Roadmaps 

  • Marketing roadmap — provides a high-level overview of all the planned marketing campaigns across channels alongside execution timelines and key KPIs/goals for each planned action. 
  • Field roadmap — a lower-level roadmap, detailing the vision and action required for a specific project sub-area. For example, user experience (UX) design, customer service, finance, etc.
  • Internal and external roadmap — you can create pairs of roadmaps for different types of audiences and adapt their levels of digitalization and complexity respectively. For instance, an internal marketing roadmap template for the entire team can highlight all the planned activities, whereas your social media marketing partner can get a more condensed version, featuring all important milestones around SMM only. 

Main Elements of a Roadmap

Roadmaps are a common output of broader strategic planning sessions. A solid roadmap is illustrative and action-oriented, breaking down the overall project vision into specific goals, steps, and checkpoints. All the subsequent project planning activities have to align with these. 

A business roadmap typically includes: 

  • Summary of visiona succinct statement, summarizing the direction of the initiative. 
  • Strategy summary — the actions you plan to take to achieve the set vision. 
  • Goals — time-bound, scoped objectives you can measure with a metric. 
  • Planned features or planned action — a deliverable-based step you plan to complete or a product feature you commit to launching. 
  • Time frames — the timeline of when all planned actions must be completed. These can be an approximation. 
  • Status markers — indicators of the progress made. 
  • Metrics — measures you use to quantify the progress and determine if you meet the set goals. 

Certainly, your roadmap planning template can have somewhat different elements, especially if it’s a field roadmap, created for a specific business process or sub-area. Likewise, technology and software roadmaps typically include more elements related to software development statuses, risk management, release plans, etc. 

How to Create a Roadmap in 5 Steps 

Building a roadmap requires some preliminary thinking. Do you already have a clear project vision and execution strategy? Did you collect market and custom data to prove or disprove your assumptions? 

You should begin developing a roadmap when you understand your market trajectory, pre-existing business constraints, expected end-value, and ultimate company goals. If these are at check, you can then follow these step-by-step instructions. 

1. Roadmap Planning: Think Needs, Over Steps 

A roadmap is a condensed version of wider planning activities. It sets the vector and provides directions for people, responsible for execution. Thus, before you dive into the making, you should formalize your goals. 

Forrester recommends:

“Your product roadmap should communicate what needs your customers face, the impact and value of addressing those needs, and what will be done to address those needs – not the technical details of how those needs will be addressed.”

If you lack the above customer knowledge or doubt in its accuracy, be sure to: 

Then use the obtain insights to create a list of SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound objectives for your project. 

Example SMART Goals Slide design by SlideModel
SMART objectives presentation template by SlideModel 

2. Prioritize Your Goals 

You know have a list of goals. The next step is to prioritize and place them on a timeline roadmap. Most roadmaps cover a quartal or a year. Few go further than that since the market landscape changes fast and corporate goals evolve in tune with that change. 

Thus, as you look at your list, try to organize all the goals into:

  • Short-term (weekly/monthly)
  • Long-term (quarterly/annual)

Then place all of them on a visual roadmap. Does your canvas look too crowded with many overlaps? Then you might need to group some goals into themes and prioritize them by strategic importance. Because as Karen Martin, author of “Value Stream Mapping”, says:

“When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

So pick your battles. The best way to prioritize goals on your roadmap is to revisit your project vision and think which steps will take you the closest to meeting them. Also, if you are working on a product roadmap, consider the value different goals will create for current and potential users. Prioritize more customer-centric items. 

3. Select a Business Roadmap Template Type 

Because road mapping can be applied to a gazillion of different projects, there’s no universal blueprint for roadmap creation. This means you can experiment with different approaches and techniques such as:

Gantt charts

Many managers like using Gantt charts (or lookalike roadmap slide templates) to create action-oriented roadmaps.

Product Roadmap Gantt chart PowerPoint presentation slide created by SlideModel
Product Roadmap Gantt Chart Template by SlideModel 

The definite appeal here is that your team can see all the planned activities, requirements, and timelines in one place. Plus, such charts make progress tracking easier. Here is a list of Gantt Chart templates for PowerPoint & Google Slides presentations that you can download from SlideModel.

Timeline Roadmaps

If you need to create a high-level external roadmap for informing project stakeholders, a simple timeline usually does the job well. Essentially, such a timeline template informs about the planned activities, plus key time-frames.

Upswing arrows roadmap slide concept for presentations
4 Steps Technology Roadmap Template by SlideModel

Metrics-based Roadmaps

Many technology teams who need a greater level of granularity prefer using roadmap tools from popular PM tools such as Confluence. This is a good option when you need to pull off specific details from planned Sprints or software development backlog. Likewise, road mapping also comes in handy when you need to create a work breakdown structure (WBS) for your project. 

Example Work breakdown structure slide design for PowerPoint roadmaps
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) PowerPoint Diagram by SlideModel 

Remember: You should always tailor the format, content, and presentation of your roadmap to your audience. A software development team may be fine with deciphering your release terms and metrics abbreviations in a product roadmap presentation. But the line of business leaders will be far more interested in timelines and concrete outcomes. 

4. Set Success Criteria

Roadmaps feature important milestones and checkpoints which help ensure successful initiative progression. But to be effective, a roadmap (and its users) must have a clear definition of success and how it will be measured.

There are several types of metrics worth using for product roadmaps. Here is a short list of sales and marketing metrics that can help inform your product roadmaps. 

  • Customer acquisition costs (CAC)
  • The average revenue per user
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) 

And for technology roadmaps you may also want to track:

  • Number of features shipped
  • Team velocity
  • Work-in-progress
  • Sprint burndown rates 

By using the right metrics, you can holistically assess if the progress is happening at the desired pace. If not, you can always tweak your timelines to make more realistic prognoses, plus identify potential blockers. 

5. Stay Open to Changes

Roadmaps are never rigid. They will evolve depending on the market conditions, internal organizational changes, etc. So you must stay open to adjusting your roadmap based on the new information.

As part of wider change management activities, be sure to tweak all dependent processes and tasks on the roadmap, plus adjust the timelines. Then verify that all the proposed changes are aligned with the original project vision. 

Presenting a Roadmap 

A roadmap typically requires buy-in from two groups — stakeholders and executioners. 

The first are interested in outcomes. This means you’d have to convince the stakeholders of your vision and show how your proposed roadmap fits into the company’s goals. The second group (executioners) wants to get a clear picture regarding the project direction and specific actions they’ll need to complete. 

To satisfy the needs of both, you may need to first create and present a general strategic roadmap template and then move on to discussing lower-level field roadmaps. 

In any case, to deliver a coherent roadmap presentation be sure to:

  1. Explain the general context (the why behind the initiative) first. 
  2. Remove jargon and buzzwords from slides, designed for business users.
  3. Focus on substance and concrete outcomes at each stage of the roadmap.
  4. Err on the side of pessimism, over optimism when showcasing timelines. 
  5. Clarify the business impact of completing the initiative
  6. Stay honest about your assumptions. Don’t make promises unless you are 100% sure about delivering on them. 

To Conclude 

The purpose of a roadmap is to provide guidance. It’s not a detailed plan for execution, but your strategic vision, presented through a series of steps and milestones. You may not have all the details ironed out yet and that is fine. Share your preliminary plans and then modify your roadmap as new information becomes available. 

1. Overlapped sections Roadmap PowerPoint Timeline

Use This Template

2. Progressive Roadmap PowerPoint Template

Use This Template

3. Roadmap into Sky Metaphor PowerPoint Template

An example of a roadmap template for PowerPoint presentations featuring a road metaphor. The roadmap template with road metaphor includes different milestones and roadmap stages that can be edited in PowerPoint and Google Slides.

Use This Template

4. Multi-step Roadmap Journey Concept for PowerPoint

Use This Template