Portfolio Roadmaps: Explanation and Guide

A painting with many colors symbolizing the many products that are displayed on a portfolio roadmap

Working with more than one product? You might want to organize them with a portfolio roadmap. It’s just a version of a product roadmap where you can see all your products at once.

In this article, I’ll explain what portfolio product roadmaps are, what they’re good for, and how product managers can make them.

Portfolio roadmaps—TL; DR

  • Portfolio roadmaps are visual planning documents that show a portfolio of products instead of just one.

  • They’re useful for organizations to get high-level visibility about all their products.

  • They’re not as useful for just product development teams because they lack the detail needed by those teams.

  • It’s also not as easy to display relevant customer feedback data on a portfolio roadmap.

  • Before deciding on a portfolio roadmap, make sure it makes sense for the specific audience you have in mind.

What is a portfolio roadmap?

A product portfolio roadmap is a strategic document that outlines the trajectory of multiple products within a company's portfolio. It usually displays information about each product's tasks and timelines, as well as the interdependencies between products, their shared resources, and their alignment with broader business objectives.

Portfolio-based product roadmaps serve as a comprehensive overview of your company’s product landscape, defining what, when, and how different products will evolve over time. It creates a shared vision that fosters cross-functional collaboration and aids in crucial decision-making processes.

Unlike individual product roadmaps that focus on a single product's journey, the portfolio roadmap takes a holistic view, integrating various product plans into a unified strategic direction.

Example of portfolio product roadmaps

Below is an example of a portfolio product roadmap. Note that each product is represented by a different swimlane, which is labelled on the left. Then each task in that swimlane also has the same colour to indicate that they all belong to the same product.

Guide: Roadmap design elements and how to use them

It includes five different products in total.

Here’s an example of a portfolio-based roadmap. It shows the tasks for five different products over a year. Source.

Is a portfolio roadmap right for you?

A product portfolio roadmap can be useful, but it's not for every team. Here are the pros and cons, and when it's most effective.

Pros

  • High-level view. The portfolio roadmap helps you see each product in relation to all the others. It’s best used when you have a bunch of products being built at once.

  • Alignment. The roadmap aligns the strategic vision of the company with the product development process. It coordinates across different departments and helps ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Risk mitigation. By providing a holistic view of all products, portfolio-based roadmaps allow you to identify potential risks and conflicts early on, which helps you take action to mitigate any risks.

  • Communication. The roadmap serves as a visual tool for communicating the company's product strategy to stakeholders, promoting transparency and trust.

Cons

  • Complexity. Managing multiple products in a single roadmap can be complex, especially for larger portfolios. It requires meticulous planning and regular updates.

  • Lack of detail. Product portfolio roadmaps give a high-level view but don’t delve into the finer details of individual product development. That can lead to gaps in understanding specific product nuances.

  • Misinterpretation. The roadmap could be misinterpreted if not communicated properly, leading to confusion or mismatched expectations among stakeholders. This could be particularly challenging when dealing with multiple products and their interdependencies.

  • No customer data. It’s not really great for including customer feedback data, because there usually isn’t room for that. You can’t easily make a portfolio roadmap evidence-based.

When to use a product portfolio roadmap

This type of roadmap is best suited for:

  • Larger organizations with multiple products. If you’re a startup with a single product, it doesn’t really make sense for you. A single feature-based roadmap or goal-based roadmap would suffice.

  • High-level stakeholders. It’s really aimed at executives and others who need to see a big-picture view of your products. Product managers and development teams usually need more detail than these can give you.

  • Communicating decisions not reasons. Because it’s so high level, it’s not easy to display the customer data relevant to the product decisions you made. So while portfolio roadmaps might be good for communicating what you’re going to do and when, they’re not great for including the data that explains why you’ve made your product decisions.

How to make a portfolio roadmap

Cool, so how do you make one? Here’s your step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Identify your audience

What you include on your product roadmap and how you display it really depends on who it’s for. Think about who’s going to use it. Possible audiences include:

  • Your executives

  • Customer success teams

  • Customer support teams

  • Sales teams

  • Marketing teams

  • Your development team

  • Your customers

Each of those audiences may need different information. Make sure you understand who it’s for so you design your roadmap appropriately.

Step 2: Identify the products

List all the products that your company offers. For each product, understand its purpose, target audience, revenue generation, and strategic importance. This will help you understand the role of each product in the overall business strategy.

Guide: Establishing a product vision

Step 3: Prioritize the key initiatives

For each product, figure out the key features, new product improvements, or initiatives that you’re going to pursue. That means identifying your business goals, the key milestones, and then thinking about what tactics can help you accomplish them.

Here’s some detailed guidance on how to do that:

As part of this process, identify what resources (people, budget, tools, etc.) are needed to achieve the goals for each product. Also, determine how these resources will be allocated across the portfolio.

Step 4: Create the roadmap

Now it's time to start creating the roadmap. Consider what style makes sense for your audience and what information you want to display. Consider including each product, its goals, the timeline for achieving these goals, and the allocated resources.

Use visual elements to illustrate the interdependencies between different products and how they contribute to the overall business strategy.

Step 5: Communicate

Share the roadmap with all relevant stakeholders, including your product teams, management, and even key clients if appropriate. You might even consider sharing it with your customers.

Clearly communicating your roadmap can align everyone with the strategic plan and expectations.

Step 6: Review and Update

The market scenario, consumer preferences, and competitive landscape for your products will change over time. That means your roadmap should change, too.

Regularly review and update your roadmap to keep it relevant. Be prepared to make adjustments as needed based on performance, changes in strategy, or market shifts.

Remember, building a product portfolio roadmap is not a one-time activity. It's a dynamic document that evolves with your business, requiring regular review and adjustments.

Portfolio roadmap best practices

There’s no “right” way to build a product portfolio roadmap. The best way to do it will be the one that works best for you and your team. Still, there are some best practices to consider to guide you to making something that’s useful. Here are some of those best practices.

  • Align with business strategy. The portfolio roadmap should be closely aligned with the overall business strategy. This ensures that all products in the portfolio contribute towards the company's strategic objectives.

  • Visualize interdependencies. Make sure to highlight the interdependencies among different products in the portfolio. This can help in resource planning and avoid potential conflicts or bottlenecks.

  • Prioritize transparency. Be transparent about how decisions are made regarding the roadmap. This includes how products are prioritized, resources allocated, and timelines established.

  • Stakeholder communication. Regularly communicate the roadmap to all relevant stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the strategic direction and expectations.

  • Flexible and adaptable. While a roadmap serves as a guide, it should not be rigid. Be prepared to adapt and update the roadmap as necessary.

Learn more: Check out Savio’s product roadmapping features

Remember, the ultimate goal of a product portfolio roadmap is to guide your product strategy toward achieving business objectives. These best practices help you create an effective and efficient roadmap that not only aligns with your business vision but also helps in managing resources and setting realistic expectations.

Product portfolio roadmap tools

Consider using a purpose-built product roadmapping tool to create, share, and update your roadmap. These tools can offer features like drag-and-drop, easy updating, and secure sharing which can greatly ease the process.

We’ve got a list of product roadmapping tools here.

Look for the one with good integrations, has portfolio management, and can display dependencies (if that’s meaningful to you).

Other roadmap types to consider

The best roadmap format for your team will depend on your specific context and needs. If you need a roadmap to help your product portfolio management, a portfolio roadmap is probably for you.

But if you’re not sure they’re the right fit, here are some other options to consider.

Roadmap types by what information is displayed

Roadmap types by workflow framework

Roadmap type by design style

Up Next: Roadmap types and when to use them

Last Updated: 2023-06-18

Kareem Mayan

Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.

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