For sure, all roadmaps have common features and characteristics. Any roadmap should be logical, well-understandable for any audience, visually appealing, and clear. However, there is no universal type of a roadmap that will be perfect for any company or project. Roadmap for startups and big enterprises are different. In this article, we will explain why and how they differ.
What is a roadmap?
Before we get into explaining differences between startup and enterprise roadmaps, let’s first outline what the product roadmap means.
A product roadmap is a strategic planning tool that outlines a shared view of the product’s direction over a certain period (from several months to several years). It communicates the overall vision, goals, and initiatives for the product and provides a timeline for when these objectives can be achieved.
The product roadmap typically includes
- Key features or upgrades that will be added to the product.
- Timeline for when each feature or upgrade will be delivered.
- Goals and objectives of the development team (increasing revenue, expanding the user base, improving the user experience, etc.).
- Priorities of the product development team (addressing customer needs, responding to market trends, improving internal processes, etc.).
- Risks and challenges associated with the product (technical limitations, resource constraints, high competition, etc.).
The product roadmap is typically the responsibility of the product manager or product owner. They are the ones who are responsible for defining the product strategy and direction, and for ensuring that the product roadmap aligns with that strategy. Specialized tools are usually used for creating a product roadmap (for example, Craft.io, Wrike, ProductPlan, and others).
The roadmap serves as a visual guide for the product team and stakeholders and helps them understand the product’s direction and progress. It serves to prioritize team members’ tasks, communicate with stakeholders, and align the team’s efforts towards achieving certain goals.
Differences between product roadmaps for startups and enterprises
There are four key fundamentals that differ startup roadmap from enterprise roadmap: goals, timeframes, content, and level of detail. In this part, we will take a more detailed look at these fundamentals and explain how they differ in roadmaps for startups and enterprises.
As usual, the main goal of a startup is to attract attention (of users, media, etc.). That’s why startups try to release new versions of their product as frequently as possible. Therefore, the main goal of a startup roadmap is to attract interest to the product in the shortest terms (with striking features, unusual design, etc.).
Large companies focus on maintenance, bug fixing, problem solving, compliance with recent market trends, and satisfaction of needs of their existing users. They usually try to keep a sweet spot between implementing innovation and supporting existing users. That is why enterprise roadmaps’ main goal is usually product improvement.
Startup roadmaps don’t focus on timelines and usually can’t afford the luxury of planning for the long term as they have limited resources and need to move quickly to validate new version of a product. Startups strive to introduce new product features or updates as quickly as possible to get real feedback from users and move forward. Short roadmaps help them respond to feedback, identify problems, and set priorities quickly to attract new users and gain more attention. Startups also rush to gain revenue to keep releasing their product and satisfy investors’ expectations. So, startup roadmaps may cover a period from a few months to one year.
Enterprises have enough resources to be able to plan for a long term (several years). They can afford involving several teams and multiple departments into product development. For these reasons, established companies need more time to get along with organizational problems, maintenance issues, and for making sure that new pieces of software work seamlessly with existing systems.
Startup roadmap usually contains a lot of looking-forward ideas and features. However, due to a limited timeframe, product managers can’t include a lot of features on a roadmap to a one release.
Since established companies already have a user base, their roadmaps usually contain maintenance ideas and don’t run ahead. They don’t focus on innovation and attraction of new users too much as they need to put a lot of effort into support and satisfaction of their existing clients.
Level of detail
Startup roadmaps are usually less detailed than enterprise roadmaps since they need to focus on the big picture and move quickly to iterate on their product or service based on customer feedback. As a result, their roadmaps may not include as much detail about specific features or initiatives.
In contrast, enterprise roadmaps may include detailed timelines, budgets, and resource allocation plans for each initiative. Being able to plan several years ahead, project managers of large companies usually intend to create as detailed roadmap as possible.
Startup and enterprise roadmap: challenges
Startup and enterprise roadmaps differ not only by goals, timeframes, content, and level of detail, but also by challenges that a company may face. Let’s take an in-depth look at the main startup and enterprise roadmaps’ challenges.
Startup roadmapping challenges
Startup roadmapping process is not straightforward as there are a lot of challenges associated with presenting fresh product on the market and making it viable and competitive. Here are some of the challenges that startup roadmaps can face.
Startups are working in conditions where they always have to generate new ideas and look for ways to attract new users, gain more attention on the market, and become more successful. For this reason, they face a lot of challenges in terms of which features to prioritize or which market to target. That’s why the startup roadmap should be flexible enough to allow for adjustments.
- Limited resources
In most cases, startups have limited resources which makes it challenging to achieve their goals within the planned timeline. The startup roadmap must prioritize the most important features and tasks while making the best use of available resources.
Startups often need to move quickly to gain market traction or secure funding. The startup roadmap must find a balance between the speed and quality and ensure that the product is developed and launched within set deadlines.
Unestablished, young startups that enter a competitive market with lots of established players must keep pace with their competitors to remain relevant. That is why the startup’s product roadmap must take into account the competitive landscape and ensure that the product offers features that can outperform other similar products on the market.
- Changing market conditions
Market conditions can change rapidly, and startups must be able to pivot quickly to take advantage of new opportunities or respond to challenges. So, the product roadmap for a startup must be flexible enough to allow for changes in response to market conditions.
Startup roadmaps can face challenges due to uncertainty, limited resources, short timelines, competition, and changing market conditions. Overcoming these challenges requires careful planning, flexibility, and willingness to adapt to new conditions to achieve the startup’s goals.
Enterprise roadmapping challenges
Enterprise roadmapping involves setting priorities for a long period and focusing on improvements. There are several challenges associated with enterprise roadmapping. Some of the most common ones include
- Lack of clarity
One of the main challenges in enterprise roadmapping is the lack of clarity around goals and priorities. Without a clear understanding of what should be achieved, it can be challenging to develop an effective roadmap for enterprise that aligns with the company’s goals and needs.
- Resources allocation
Established companies with a stable outcome and user base normally have enough resources to be able to achieve their strategic goals. However, it may be challenging to properly allocate these resources for maximum impact.
- Lack of collaboration
Successful enterprise roadmapping requires established collaboration and communication between different teams and departments. Otherwise, it can lead to conflicting priorities and delays in execution.
- Progress monitoring
Measuring progress against goals is critical to the success of any roadmap. Without a way to track progress, it can be difficult to determine whether the roadmap is effective and adjust it as necessary.
Overall, these challenges highlight the need for organizations to be flexible, adaptable, and collaborative when developing and executing their enterprise roadmaps.
Product roadmaps for startups and enterprises: why do they look different?
Here are the key reasons why product roadmaps may look different for startups and enterprises:
Startups typically have limited resources, both in terms of budget and specialists. As a result, their product roadmap focuses more on delivering key features quickly and efficiently to gain attention and user base. Enterprises usually have enough resources to invest in long-term product development and may focus on scaling and expanding existing product.
As usual, startups have a small user base or don’t have it at all. That is why startup roadmaps focus on attraction of new users and raising interest around the product. While enterprises also aim to gain new users, they mainly focus on supporting their existing user base.
Startups are generally more willing to take risks and experiment with new ideas which can lead to more frequent changes in their product roadmap. Enterprises, with their established reputation and customer base, may be more cautious and conservative in their approach to product development and may have a longer-term roadmap with fewer major changes.
Startups are smaller and more flexible than enterprises, which allows them to respond quickly to market changes and adapt their product roadmap accordingly. Enterprises may have a more gradual structure which can slow down decision-making and make it more difficult to pivot quickly.
In summary, while both startups and enterprises use product roadmaps as a tool for product strategy, they have different priorities, resources, and face different risks.
As you can see, product roadmaps for startups and enterprises differ significantly. They outline different goals, features, needs, have different levels of detail, face different challenges, etc. And if you want to create a product roadmap that will be comprehensive, you need to take these factors into account.
Before you intend to build a roadmap, you need to ask yourself: “What should my roadmap focus on?”, “What are the main goals of my roadmap?”. To a great extent, the answers to these questions will depend on the ongoing stage of your project.