Developing and managing a successful product or project happens to go hand in hand with the more complex process of managing a whole series of products or projects. And for that, we use roadmaps.

First things first, what is a project roadmap?

A project roadmap is basically a high-level overview of important project deliverables, dependencies, possible risks, and key players. It’s usually put together by the project manager who uses it as a communication tool and reference throughout a project’s lifecycle to stay on track with goals. Moreover, it’s a highly visual document.

Types of project roadmaps

Project roadmaps can be used for pretty much any project, and can take the form of marketing plans, IT and business development strategies, as well as sales, technology and project portfolio management.

How is a project roadmap different from a project plan?

Well, the main difference is that a roadmap is a high-level view of your project while a good project plan gets into detail about what needs to happen to ensure success. With project plans, you’re answering questions related to value proposition, your project scope and how it’s being managed, the budget and the risks; not to mention client names, training, schedules and so on.  Put simply, a project plan is a microscopic view of a project roadmap.

Project roadmaps: benefits and challenges
The benefits and challenges of using project roadmaps

The benefits of using project roadmaps

There are countless benefits to having a strong project roadmap, but let's keep it simple.

  • Everyone on the team follows a set plan, with clear understanding of the timeline, scope and goals of the project.
  • Project managers are able to communicate the plans to anyone related to the project all the while managing expectations.
  • The process of prioritizing tasks and making decisions becomes easier, of course as long as your roadmap is regularly updated.

The challenges of using project roadmaps

Using a project roadmap does have its challenges of course.

  • At times, it might lack realism and cost you delay or overruns.
  • You’re bound to be late if you don't constantly update the project roadmap.
  • You might find difficulty managing your roadmap during shorter iterations if you go too much into detail.

The difference between project, product and portfolio roadmaps

Product, project and portfolio roadmaps - the differences
The difference between project, portfolio and product roadmap

How can I differentiate between a project roadmap and a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a strategic vision of the path a specific product is going to take (it could be software, hardware, anything really). Both project and product roadmaps look ahead, by visualizing a story and encouraging feedback. The main difference is that product roadmaps are much more detailed than project roadmaps; they include requirements and are specific to development projects, while project roadmaps can be used to manage any kind of project work.

High-level features of a project roadmap

To build an effective project roadmap, project managers should focus on the high-level details.

  • The roadmap should be short (one page) and highly visual.
  • The roadmap should feature a good overview of the timeline without too much detail; it should take into account hard deadlines and a list of specific goals and priorities.
  • It should also feature key milestones that highlight important dates, dependencies at the high level, resource allocation, and key contacts of the people involved in the project.

Features of a product roadmap

A product roadmap features both the strategy and the goals of a product.

  • Product vision, i.e. what you want your product to be in the future.
  • Strategy with a plan that showcases what you’re going to do to meet the vision.
  • Goal that is time-bound and measurable via a specific metric.
  • Initiative that unites the features to be implemented.
  • Features that are actual pieces of the product.
  • Dates and time periods for specific goals or features (approximation).
  • Statuses which track work progress.
  • Metrics such as churn rate and organic traffic.

What is the difference between a project roadmap and a portfolio roadmap?

A portfolio roadmap is also a high-level overview, but it tends to relate directly to the product line strategy. Portfolio roadmaps allow product managers and executives to communicate how products are connected to each other which means they’re more effective for businesses with multiple product lines. Portfolio roadmaps help visualize the relationship between various timelines and objectives in many areas of your business.

When we say portfolio roadmap, we’re talking visibility across projects, teams and departments.

A list of project, product and portfolio roadmap apps that integrate with Jira

First of all, why Jira

Jira Software is kind of the number one software development tool used by agile teams, and it's also the one we work with at Jexo. And while Jira is a very powerful tool to track work, it's not always ideal for planning across multiple teams or projects.

That being said, here's a list of project and product management apps that feature roadmaps which integrate well with Jira; some are Jira plugins, others are standalone apps.

Let’s start with Jira plugins that offer interesting roadmaps

Jira plugins are pieces of software that plug into your Jira task management platform, offering you better functionality. Being part of the Atlassian ecosystem has its perks, one of which is abiding by a set of security guidelines that make the apps more trustworthy.

BigPicture

Roadmap for Big Picture plugin
Big Picture Roadmap

Technical clients with complex PPM projects tend to opt for BigPicture, as it allows them to build any portfolio structure they want, including sub-portfolios, programs, projects, stages, SAFe® ARTs, and so on.

Price
$5 for 10 users
$2.8 for 11-100 users

Market
Atlassian Server, Cloud, DC

Swanly

Swanly roadmap plugin for Jira
Swanly Roadmap

Swanly is a Jira project management plugin with a portfolio roadmap that offers managers a hub from which they can plan and track work progress in Jira, coordinate across multiple projects, products and teams, access a list view of activities, and understand the scope and history of all issues and releases.

Price
$10 for 10 users
$1.5 for 11-100 users

Market
Atlassian Cloud

Easy Agile Roadmaps for Jira

Easy Agile Roadmaps for Jira - project roadmap
Easy Agile Roadmap for Jira

This Jira plugin is a visual project roadmap timeline that offers swimlanes to split scheduled work, with date markers showcasing events and milestones. You can drag and drop scheduled issues onto the timeline, filter your view, and export to PDF.

Price
$10 for 10 users
$1.75 for 11-100 users

Market
Atlassian Server, Cloud, DC

Release Management and Roadmap

Roadmap for Release Management Jira plugin
Release Management Roadmap

Release Management & Roadmap is a technical project management tool dedicated to release management specifically. It offers various features, of which a release roadmap that allows you to update start and release dates via drag-and-drop, and the option to search by item name or version.

Price
$7 for 10 users
$0.7 for 11-100 users

Market
Atlassian Cloud, Server

Project Timeline

Roadmap for the Project Timeline plugin in Jira
Project Timeline Roadmap

The Project Timeline plugin features a roadmap with an overall picture of scheduled releases, epics, and sprints across multiple projects on a timeline where you can plan and track.

Price
$10 for 10 users
$1.25 for 11-100 users

Market
Atlassian Server, Cloud

Advanced Roadmaps

Advanced Roadmaps - Jira roadmap
Advanced Roadmaps plugin in Jira

Advanced Roadmaps is made by Atlassian, part of Jira Premium; their roadmap allows you to view, plan and manage initiatives, create realistic schedules, and manage releases in an ever-changing environment.

Price
$10 for 10 users
$4,570 for 100 users

Market
Atlassian Server, DC

Standalone project and product management apps that feature useful roadmaps

Aha!

Product roadmap for Aha project management plugin
Aha product roadmap

Aha! is a product roadmap made by product managers for product managers, mostly in software, web, and tech companies, and covering the why, what, and when of your product development. Aha! also offers a portfolio roadmap view of your work.

Price
$49 per user, per month for small teams

Asana

Product roadmap feature in Asana
Product roadmap tool Asana

Asana is a product roadmap tool that helps teams orchestrate their work, from daily tasks to strategic initiatives. It features lists, boards, calendars and gantt charts to help organize the work in one place.

Price
$10.99 per user per month for premium
$24.99 per user per month for business

Roadmunk

Roadmunk roadmap for work
Roadmunk roadmap for better structure

Roadmunk makes visualizing roadmaps easier with features such as a timeline and swimlane view (for agile teams). Their roadmaps can be used for various cases and allow you to import, drag and drop, as well as attach files.

Price
$49 per user, per month for small teams

Monday.com

Product roadmap for Monday.com
Monday.com Roadmap

Monday is a product management software that helps customize your product roadmap with pre-set templates featuring dashboards, timelines and many view options.

Price
$14 per user, per month for standard
$22 per user, per month for pro

Wrike

Wrike roadmap to help manage product
Wrike roadmap to manage product requirements

Whether you follow a traditional waterfall process or an agile framework, Wrike will help you manage product requirements from concept to completion, by creating, prioritizing and assigning requirements or user stories.

Price
$9.8 per user, per month for 15 users
$24.80 per user, per month for up to 200 users

Craft

Product roadmap in Craft product management tool
Craft product roadmap

Craft brings product features, milestones, epics, and user stories together into one product roadmap you can share with the management team. It also allows you to prioritize tasks and assign them to the team.

Price
$39 per user, per month for essential
$89 per user, per month for pro

GanttPRO

GanttPRO helps build product roadmaps
Ganttpro product roadmap

GanttPRO is a tool for building product roadmaps online and it's based on Gantt charts. It’s fairly simple to use and features tasks, costs, resources, deadlines, team collaboration, workload, templates and so on.

Price
$8.9 per user, per month for 10 users
$4.5 per user, per month for 100 users

ClickUp

Project roadmap in ClickUp management tool
ClickUp project roadmap

ClickUp offers a simple way to organize your work by creating tasks, organizing them in a tree hierarchy and assigning them to employees. You can view tasks in a list, box or board view and assign comments.

Price
$5 per user, per month

ProjectManager.com

Project roadmap for Projectmanager.com - a project management app
Projectmanager.com project roadmap

ProjectManager.com is a project management app that features time-tracking and collaboration tools for managers and their teams. It offers visibility into product roadmaps, and the ability to update timesheets and tasks anytime, anywhere.

Price
$20 per user, per month for team
$25 per user, per month for business

Zoho Sprints

Zoho Sprints - Product management tool with roadmap
Zoho sprints product roadmap

Zoho Sprints is a tool for product management teams, helping scrum teams plan and track the progress of their sprints; workflows are customizable.

Price
$3 per user, per month for 10 users
$5 per user, per month for 15-100 users

Productboard

Productboard - a product roadmap
Product roadmap in Productboard

With its customizable boards, Productboard offers product teams flexibility and the ability to understand what users need, what priorities to focus on, and how to bring together everyone around the roadmap.

Price
$50 per user, per month for pro
$100 per user, per month for scale

ProductPlan

ProductPlan's project roadmap
Project roadmap in ProductPlan

ProductPlan does one thing very well, which is help create roadmaps for your next project. You can lay out your product strategy in a big picture format while allowing your development team to work on the little details.

Price
$39 per user, per month for business
$69 per user, per month for enterprise

For many managers, a roadmap often serves as their primary tool to plan, track, share and update the work. Given how central it is, choosing the right roadmap can have quite the impact so choose wisely. :)