The Product Roadmap vs. the Project Roadmap

It’s amazing what you learn when you stop talking at work and start listening. This is particularly true when you are meeting with the world’s best innovators and product builders. We get to practice our listening skills a lot, because at Aha! we speak with hundreds of Product Managers each week.

To our own surprise, we consistently hear someone tell us that they found Aha! while searching for “a great project management tool.”

While there are some similarities, there are also many key differences between product roadmaps and project roadmaps. And understanding them starts with knowing the difference between a product and a project.

A product is a good or service which is provided to a group of users. Products can be anything ranging from physical products to software applications to services which are delivered to an end user.

A project is a series of tasks or plans which are implemented over a set period of time. Once its outcome has been accomplished, the project is complete.

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Products and projects are interconnected in many ways. The key way that they are related is that a product often contains many projects before it is ready to be launched or updated. Each project has a clear timeline with clear start and end dates. The latter date denotes when the project has been accomplished. Some may even consider “sprints” to be be mini projects.

However, a product does not have a clear start and end date. Instead, the product will continually be improved over time as feedback is collected from end users and the product team prioritizes what to build based on what will create the most value.

The overall purpose The biggest difference between product roadmaps and project roadmaps is the overall purpose of each roadmap and how these purposes relate to organizational goals.

A product roadmap is used to communicate the product’s strategic path to achieve business goals. Product roadmaps can be used by Product teams at diverse organizations. Software companies and toy companies both produce products. So, Product teams within both companies can use product roadmaps to plan their work. The core similarity between product roadmaps is that they are typically used for products and services that are sold to customers.

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On the other hand, aproject roadmap is more tactical in nature and used chiefly to communicate the tasks needed to complete the project. “Project” in this case can refer to anything. Project roadmaps can be used to implement a new recruiting service or deploy an email server. The core similarity between project roadmaps is that they are often used to plan internal efforts.

Components Another area where these two types of roadmaps often differ is in their components. Product Managers have different goals than Project Mangers. So, it is natural that a product roadmap will contain different content than a project roadmap.

Product roadmaps often include the following types of components:

Project roadmaps often include these types of components:

So, the focus area for each roadmap is clear.;

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