Growth: what are roadmap and OKR?

How frequently should I update the roadmap?

12-month rolling roadmaps



  • Objectives and metrics: it is placed at the top of the slide because this is the most important thing of the roadmap, what you are planning to achieve by doing the things you plan to do and how do you measure that you achieved. From these, you create your OKRs.
  • Deliveries: here we have what is planned to be delivered by each team to achieve the objectives. It’s important to note down when a new team will be hired and onboarded. Normally it takes some time to hire people and have them onboarded with enough knowledge in order to deliver something. The deliveries are boxes of one or more months. That does not mean that delivery will happen only once per month. Teams should be deploying in production every week, every day, every hour if possible. This means that these deliveries are high-level deliveries, composed of many smaller deliveries that are one level down of details from what is shown in the 12-month rolling roadmaps. For those familiar with agile methodologies, think in terms of themes, epics, and stories. In the 12-month rolling roadmap we are at the level of themes and epics, we don’t go to the level of detail of stories. Note that deliveries for the upcoming quarter are in darker green while the others are in lighter green. This is by design, to show that we are more certain of the things that are closer. It is the job of the product manager to present this roadmap to maintain the upcoming quarter focus of the discussion. If your stakeholders want to discuss deliveries later in the roadmap, the only discussion that is important is if that delivery should happen in the upcoming quarter and, if so, what should be postponed.
  • Discoveries: the same way you present your deliveries in a timeline, you can present the required discoveries you need to do prior to the deliveries. Again, the result of discovery should not be presented only after one or more months. The discovery team (product manager, product designer, and someone from engineering) will be making discoveries and sharing them with stakeholders on a weekly or even daily basis, but a better full picture of the discovery may need more time to be put together. This element is optional.
  • Constraints: if you have any relevant constraints, it is important to be placed here. In this example, the government was rolling out a new invoice layout that should be used since April 2018. For this reason, our invoicing system should be prepared to issue invoices in this new format by then. This element is also optional.

Should I keep a secret about my roadmap?

Cone of uncertainty

How to build a roadmap?



  • The users: it is necessary to know the users or possible users of your product, and which problems or needs they have that can be solved by your product. There are numerous tools and methods to get to know your client. Some examples are surveys, interviews, access data analysis, A/B test, prototypes, usability test, etc.
  • Context: the context in which your users are in and, specifically, when they use the product. Context is the set of physical conditions and events that surround your user. For instance, your user accessing your product from a desktop or from a smartphone is part of the context.
  • Market and competitors: either direct or indirect competitors. The direct ones are those that deliver the same or a similar product. The indirect competitors are the ones that somehow replace your product. For instance, suppose that you built a tool for managing orders of service for small service providers. One of the main competitors is e-mail because these small providers can use it instead of using your tool. Or, yet, they can use the phone, paper, and pen!


Putting everything into one image

Roadmap = motivation + metrics


  • Company’s strategic goals;
  • Problems and needs of the client;
  • Available technology.



  • Motivation: to educate clients on good practices of using e-mail marketing so they would reach a higher success rate in their campaigns and, consequently, would not cancel the service;
  • Metrics: the result of this feature is being measured in two ways: the amount of deliveries (inbox delivery, opened message ratio, spam complaint ratio) and decrease of canceling.

OKRs, the future of product roadmaps




OKRs or Roadmaps?

  • Innovation: from all 4 lifecycle stages of a software product, Innovation is the one that holds the biggest amount of doubt. It is also the stage that holds the biggest number of books. Any book on innovation and startups is helpful when your product is in this stage. The main objective is to create a product that addresses the problems and needs of a group of customers. For this reason, during this phase there’s only one Objective, to find product-market fit, and to measure this Objective we can use various Key Results that demonstrate customer engagement and satisfaction. In the Innovation stage, we should use neither OKR nor roadmaps. We should use the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) framework of build-measure-learn to reach the Objective of finding product-market fit.
  • Growth: In the growth stage, when the product has been developed and launched, we should worry about how to manage the product during its growth. Since during the innovation phase we built an MVP to reach our Objective of finding product-market fit, our product is quite incomplete, so we should have a roadmap describing which features we will build plus the motivation to build each feature and the metrics that will show us that we are fulfilling the motivation to build each feature, as I described in my article about the roadmap. Motivation is another word for Objective and Metrics are the same as Key Results. In the Growth stage, we should use Roadmaps together with OKR, since in the Innovation phase we launched an MVP lacking many features that would make the product more complete, and now we need to implement those features.
  • Maturity: After growth, comes maturity. In this phase, our product reached its potential market and consequently doesn’t grow as fast as it grew in the Growth phase. When a product reaches this stage, it has all the needed features and there’s no need for a roadmap anymore. In the Maturity stage, we should use only OKRs to manage the product development since in this phase we will be optimizing the product to fulfill its Objectives.
  • End of life: After maturity, or when the product is developed but does not find product-market fit, comes the stage is known as the end of life, or sunset, of a software product. In this phase, like in the Maturity phase, a roadmap is not needed since it doesn’t make sense to build any additional features. If your product reached the End of life phase after the Maturity phase, it already has all the features it needs to have. If your product reached the End of life phase right after the Innovation phase because it didn’t find the product-market fit, you should not invest any effort in building any additional features. At the End of life stage, we should use only OKRs to manage the product development since in this phase our only Objective is to stop serving the product.

Detailing versus audience

  • General target: in this case, detailing does not have to be high. The ideal is to talk in terms of features and you should disclose the features closer to being delivered.
  • Close clients: for the closest clients, it is possible to show more details, giving a medium-term vision. It is very important to create a good relationship with your close clients. You can guide the vision of your product based on the problems they have, and that your product is willing to solve.
  • Partners: to them it is worth getting into details, especially those who help the product to reach your clients. For instance, the final clients of the Locaweb hosting platform are the companies that host their websites there. However, you have to consider the partners, that is, the developers and agencies that develop these sites. In this case, you should continue to depict the roadmap as a list of features.
  • CEOs, vice-presidents, and directors: at this point, we move to an internal audience. This target group might be interested in the feature list, but they really want to know the motivation for these functionalities on the roadmap.
  • Sales and marketing: for the sales and marketing teams, it is necessary to get into a little more detail. For sales, details are important because they may have already identified the market’s demand, and for marketing, the need for more details comes from the publicity work they will do.
  • Product marketing: this group is practically the fourth element of that core team I mentioned in the chapter What is software product management? They must participate very closely in the product’s development and must know the whole motivation and the metrics of the features in the roadmap.
  • Customer service: this group does not have to know a lot about the motivation of the features as many of the internal groups, but it is the one that needs to know more details of these future features, for it communicates with their clients on a daily basis.
  • Engineering and UX: they are part of the product’s core team. They need all the details, motivations, and metrics in order to do their job.

Roadmap or backlog?

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Joca Torres

Joca Torres

Digital product development advisor, coach, and board member. Also an open water swimmer and ukulelist.

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