There is (perhaps) nothing more fundamental for product managers and their teams than the product roadmap.
Product teams refer back to their product roadmap to understand how a product or solution will develop over time. Product roadmaps help prioritize critical features and sketch out the scope of the product's development.
In many cases, product roadmapping software is offered as a SaaS (software-as-a-service) product. This means you can expect many of them to come with monthly fees (or free versions with limited functionality).
While product managers and those in their close orbits typically use product roadmapping software the most, this is not always the case.
Because these digital tools are pretty easy to use (as you shall soon see), anyone in an organization could use them to get a better read on a product's development cycle.
Product roadmaps are critical for developing and shipping products on time.
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While each piece of software may have its own unique set of features, there are some commonalities between most popular apps.
At the very least, your chosen product roadmap software should include some of the following features:
Now, let's get into our list of the best (both free and paid) product roadmap tools of 2022!
First on our list is Trello. Technically, Trello is a project management tool, not merely a product roadmap tool. However, the "Trello board" comes alongside enough customizable features, such as lists and cards, that product managers can create simple product roadmaps using the software.
Trello essentially offers its users a more robust Kanban board, as you can see in the image above. Trello boards consist of different columns that feature customizable and movable cards.
These cards consist of more than simple descriptions. Trello allows you to include everything you'd need to manage, track, and share task progress and plans with others. Cards can be filled with details such as checklists, due dates, attachments, conversations, and more.
Trello is a popular project management tool because it is highly collaborative. Trello boards are easy to share with any member of the team or stakeholder that is interested.
Nevertheless, as we mentioned, Trello is a project management software, not specifically a product roadmapping software. As such, Trello may not have some of the product roadmap-specific features your product team may need or want.
A free version of Trello includes nearly everything you'd need to create simple product roadmaps. However, suppose you want additional features such as software integrations. In that case, you'll need to subscribe to one of the company's paid plans. The lowest of which is $9.99 per month per user.
Wrike is one of our favorite project management and product roadmapping tools because of the extent of its features and the customization that comes with them. Wrike is designed to provide any team from nearly any industry with the specific tools they need for their development cycle. Whether that be custom dashboards, workflows, or request forms.
Unfortunately, this means that Wrike can come with a steep learning curve for some product teams. Once your team becomes accustomed to it, though, there's no denying it's a powerful roadmapping tool, especially considering it comes with a free option.
Wrike primarily relies on the Gantt chart for your product roadmap. Nonetheless, it still allows you to create Kanban boards or use dozens of different templates for your roadmaps.
In terms of how it stacks up against other comparable product roadmap tools, Wrike is unique because it allows projects and tasks to be displayed in different places simultaneously. This feature, in particular, can be convenient for those products that have several different kinds of teams working on them.
Like Trello, Asana is a project management software. However, Asana comes with product roadmap templates and features that make it a powerful free tool.
Asana also allows its users to create detailed Kanban boards for their product roadmaps. However, it also includes Gantt timelines, calendars, and a new "workflow builder." Along with the ability to set goals, report on progress, integrate with other apps, and submit/review work requests, product managers can quickly build valuable product roadmaps using Asana.
While, as we mentioned, Asana is not a piece of software specifically designed to create product roadmaps. It is, ultimately, a project management tool. However, Asana is very collaborative, making it a perfect fit for the whole team. Multiple users or stakeholders can add or remove sections to the board, timelines, or calendars as they see fit.
Jira is an issue-tracking and ticketing software tool built to help product teams manage development progress. Jira is a popular choice for agile teams.
Jira allows product teams to create user stories, plan and schedule weekly sprints, and allocate project tasks amongst team members. However, Jira is notable for being an issue-tracking tool. As such, you can use it to prioritize specific tasks and address any problems that will inevitably occur to your product team during the development cycle.
Jira includes roadmapping features such as Scrum boards, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts. It also features many reporting functions commonly used in agile development, such as Burnup charts and sprint reports.
Airtable is another collaboration-focused project management software aimed at helping product teams allocate tasks and monitor development progress. Airtable offers its users dozens and dozens of features to customize their product roadmaps according to their team's specific needs.
Airtable is one of the most exciting additions to our list because of its "Views" feature. As the name suggests, it allows users to see the same roadmap from different views.
Airtable comes with many filtering, grouping, and sorting features, allowing product managers to customize their roadmaps as necessary. It also includes customized progress charts to help track development across the product teams.
Airtable may be simpler in its layout and UI than Wrike, for example. Still, its customizability makes it a powerful and adaptable roadmapping tool for product managers.
Craft.io is not simply a powerful product roadmapping tool (although it very much is). Instead, the range of its features and the extent of its capabilities means it is better described as a product management platform.
It allows all team members and stakeholders to provide feedback on tasks and development priorities, plan workflows, and detailed and powerful roadmapping features.
We love Craft.io because it was explicitly designed to connect product execution with product strategy. Specifically, its "Strategic Inputs" make it a unique part of our list. This feature allows you to build a repository for all information around your product information such that you can connect each element to your planning and development processes.
Craft.io also comes with many different collaborative features, a myriad of ways to display product roadmaps, progress monitors, customizable data display features, and dozens of software integrations.
Roadmunk is a unique roadmapping tool on our list because it directly incorporates customer or user feedback into the product roadmap. As a result, product teams can better prioritize certain features based on their users' actual and objective needs.
Roadmunk states that it can "align your whole organization to a customer-driven roadmap." Needless to say, this could be an excellent tool for those product teams that want to ensure the products they develop can adequately account for their users' wants and needs.
Roadmunk contains features such as Jira integration, the ability to create different roadmap views depending on who is looking at it, and the ability to prioritize certain product features.
Airfocus is well-known for its claim to be the first modular product management platform. This means that the platform allows your team to build a product management stack that serves the needs of your product and organization.
Thanks to its specially designed roadmap builder tool, product managers can build their roadmaps rapidly using Airfocus. Not only that, it allows you to create multiple roadmaps (for different teams, perhaps) while still consolidating them all into a single portfolio view.
This product management platform will allow your product teams to display data, organize and allocate tasks, and prioritize features however they see fit.
Productboard is similar to that of Craft.io in that it includes many other product management features beyond just roadmaps. However, it is unique in its emphasis on building customer-centric roadmaps.
Productboard allows you and your team to collect user feedback from various sources. Whether through email, social media, etc., Productboard easily enables you to gather insights into what your users actually want. From there, product teams can prioritize features and develop their products.
The product roadmaps developed using Productboard closely resemble Kanban boards. However, it is also possible to create timeline-based roadmaps. Like the Kanban boards in similar software tools, you can click and expand the items on the roadmap for additional information. As we mentioned, one of the most essential pieces of extra detail is the connection of items on the roadmap to product strategy.
These product roadmap tools are incredibly useful for product teams and the product managers that use them. Needless to say, you first need to become a product manager to start using them!
If you don't quite know where to start or are anxious about an upcoming product manager interview, don't worry! Here at Exponent, we have all the interview prep and PM-specific resources you need to become a product manager.
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