‘Product Focus’ is an excellent product journal released every few months, which focuses on Product Management, including challenges faced in the industry and ideas for different approaches.

One of the key themes explored through the articles is on the difference between Product Strategy, Product Roadmap and a Product Plan. Are these the same? If they’re different, what do they each mean?

The key takeaway is that they are different. All equally important, but different. And they should be implemented in the correct way.

I’ve highlighted the main differences between each of these – that way you can focus on delivering your work and support it with the correct paperwork.

What is a Product Strategy?

Your strategy is the reason you are creating the product. It should include an analysis of your current situation, the outcome which you are aiming for, and the steps you are going to take to get there. The strategy isn’t just about setting your objective, but also the product deliverable. Your company strategy isn’t your product strategy. If you are working in a large company, with several products, then each of these will need their own Product Strategy. You will then have one overarching company strategy. Start-ups may have crossover if they only have one product to begin with, but ensure you are able to branch your product strategy out as you grow.

What is a Product Roadmap?

Your Product Roadmap takes into account the deliverables, similar to the Product Strategy. The roadmap also looks at the important marketing points including the go-to-market plan, the timelines for deliverables and the resources allocated. It will also look at the pricing structure, details of target markets to include in the go-to-market plan and the unique selling points of the product. The strategy is slightly more top level than that. The roadmap is the next step down into the details.

What is a Product Plan?

Now I can sense what you’re thinking. More plans and paperwork? Each of these has a different use and in large organisations, each team will do things differently, and require different sets of plans and tactics. In some cases, the Product Plan may be your Product Strategy. The plan will take different shapes and sizes, but it will allow you to cover all your bases.

Whether you are using all three of these, or just one or two, they all have their own agenda and their own purpose within the product lifecycle. Of course, this is all relevant to your product, your business and your way of making decisions.

The best advice I can give is to not get distracted by paperwork. Create what you need, if it’s all three then so be it, but if not, then be flexible. The great thing about agile/product management is its ability to mould and flex to the shape of your business structure.

Product Management interest and knowledge is growing all the time and with that so does the confusion around how to work and what to use. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on strategy, plans and roadmaps, so please get in touch with me on jamie.davies@wearefutureheads.co.uk. 

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