Theme-Based Product Road Maps

By Brian Lawley, Pamela Schure

Product road maps can be a highly effective tool for a product manager. You create a theme-based road map by grouping your potential prioritized feature list into themes. The figure shows what an internal theme-based road map looks like.

For example, a theme could be performance, usability, or competitive parity. The beauty of a theme-based product road map is that it makes creating marketing messages and plans for communicating clearly with customers easier. Without a theme, you may be delivering customers a bunch of features and then leaving them to decide why they should buy.

prodmgmt-one-yr-roadmap
© 2017, 280 Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

One-year theme-based road map.

Theme-based road maps are useful because they help keep your product from experiencing feature creep, where stakeholders constantly want to add new features. Using themes allows you to decide whether to add a feature based on whether it’s related to the theme. If it isn’t, you can defer it to a later release.

Theme-based road maps can be for just the next one or two releases over a period of a year or can have much longer time frames including several years and many releases. These versions are a great way to paint a longer-term picture of how your product will fulfill its vision over time. This figure is a sample of a theme-based road map over five years.

prodmgmt-five-yr-theme
© 2017, 280 Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Five-year theme-based road map.