The 10 different roadmap types

A roadmap is a plan that defines a goal and specifies the milestones and steps that need to happen to achieve it.

Roadmaps serve as an integral communication tool. With one, all team members get the same understanding of targets. They also provide a way to track progress, helping teams stay on track.

There are several types of roadmaps a business might use. Some target different subjects/departments, some are written based on the audience, and others format based on the steps they outline.

We can break these down into 10 different roadmap types, across 3 categories. So, here’s a closer look.

Category 1: Subject-based roadmap types

The first category of roadmap types is those that differ based on the subject they map.

  1. Technology

Technology roadmaps look outside of the company. They focus on the wider tech trends that are happening in your industry and the markets you’re targeting.

You can also map the new technology tools you plan to leverage.

The idea of a technology roadmap is to provide a clear picture of how you’ll leverage and benefit from growing technological innovations.

  1. Product

Product roadmaps are perhaps the best-known type — especially in the development world. These roadmaps detail the phased development of a (typically, software) product.

This roadmap type outlines the goal of the product in development, and the milestones the developers will meet on the way to achieving those goals.

This means that teams can use the roadmap to see how close a product is to ‘done’. They’re also in the loop as to the main and secondary features that will be included in the next planned release.

  1. Market strategy

Market-based roadmaps define your target markets. They focus on how you’ll develop the products and services to appeal to these markets, and lay out timeline goals for entering them.

Category 2: Audience-defined roadmap types

The next category of roadmap types differs based on the audience they target.

  1. Sales-targeted roadmaps

These roadmaps are versions of your product roadmap that are targeted at the sales team.

The goal of this type of roadmap is to help sales employees understand the projected direction of the product. They can also provide a picture of which features go best grouped together when selling, and an idea of the benefits to the user being targeted. (All of which will help them during sales talks.)

Typically, sales-targeted roadmaps will not include timelines or fixed dates. The idea here is that it discourages sales teams from promising a set release date to prospects/customers.  

  1. Executive-targeted roadmaps

Executive targeted roadmaps are high-level overviews of the planned future of the business. They include goals like business growth, the new markets being targeted, goals and milestones in customer service, and so on.

The focus of this roadmap type is strategy. The goal is to give a clear overview of where the company is going.

  1. Engineering-targeted roadmaps

This is essentially your good old product roadmap. Engineering targeted roadmaps are all about helping the team who makes and maintains the product see what’s being aimed for, and what they need to do.

Category 3: Roadmap formats

The final category of roadmap types is those that differ based on how they’re structured.

  1. Goal-based

Goal-based roadmaps focus on the goals you want to reach. They are structured based on the smaller goals at each stage of the product or business development. This means that instead of thinking about tools or features, the roadmap starts and ends with overarching targets.

  1. Feature-based

In contrast to the previous entry, feature-based roadmaps focus on the planned features to be developed. In feature-based roadmaps, there may not be a high-level goal behind these features at all. Instead, the roadmap places the creation of the feature(s) as the goal.

  1. Portfolio

For businesses with multiple products in development, the portfolio roadmap is one of the most useful roadmap types.

A portfolio roadmap shows the planned releases and direction across multiple products. As such, you get an overview of what every team is currently working towards across all your products. Portfolio roadmaps also help map out how different product teams work together.

  1. Strategy-based

The final of the roadmap types is formatted around strategy. A strategy roadmap maps out the planned efforts (strategies) that you plan to invest in to achieve your goals. This helps to ensure that teams remain aware of the overall business strategy and how it relates to their workload(s).

Roadmap types

TL;DR: There are many roadmap types, spanning different departments, focuses, and industries.

The overarching theme of all these roadmap types is that they map out the plans for the future — and the milestones on the way to achieving your goals. They generate shared understanding within teams and across them.

In short, roadmaps are a valuable business tool, no matter the type.

Useful links

Tech innovation: is our obsession unhealthy?

Definition of done in scrum

The tech market and why the winner takes it all

What to include in a roadmap, and what not to include

The fallacy of not selling features