How Product Line Roadmaps Differ From Product Roadmaps
And Why You Need Both
A product line roadmap is a timeline graphic that communicates how a team intends to carry out a product line strategy. It shows milestones and key relationships between strategy parts. At least one platform-lever is central to most product line strategies. Teams display platform-levers as parallel timelines. These become the roadmap’s focal point. If the strategy has no platform-lever, the roadmap then uses a blank timeline.
Teams place objects or shapes on the platform-lever timeline to represent new products and targets for innovation. Their placement suggests intended launch dates. New product objects then connect to other roadmap shapes representing targeted market segments and key technology building blocks.
Product vs Product Line
A product line roadmap differs from a product roadmap. A product roadmap is project management-oriented, not strategy-oriented. It does not show platform leverage, market segmentation, nor technology building blocks. It does, however, show project or task timing and the connections between work.
Most available software tools for making roadmaps support only the singular product roadmap (project management) orientation. Such roadmaps also add swim lanes to indicate project types. They do not, however, support a product line strategy design and presentation. When a manager views a product roadmap (singular), they gain awareness of projects, tasks, timing, and deliverables. The manager does not see intentions toward carrying out a product line strategy.
Crafting a product line roadmap demands teams to examine and advance a product line’s strategy. This calls for teams to understand product line strategies and their parts. Purposely, the work seeks to build coherence into the strategy’s execution. Therefore, teams create product line roadmaps and strategies at the same time. They use project line roadmaps to rationalize projects based on constraints and create new projects and target new innovations based on needs and opportunities.
Roadmaps in Use
Organizations with notable product lines need both the strategy oriented product line roadmap and the project management product roadmap. The product line roadmap works to focus a strategy by displaying market segments, platform-levers, technology building blocks, and future innovations specific to a single product line. The product roadmap then displays projects tasks and milestone to fulfill the strategy.
Below is a product line roadmap (strategy oriented). I encourage readers to search “product roadmap” to see the many variants for the project management orientation. See: Google Image Search .
Figure 1 Product Line Roadmap (Strategy Oriented)
Product Line Roadmaps emphasize Strategy Execution. Product Roadmaps emphasize Project and Task coordination. Large businesses need both.CLICK PICTURE TO ENLARGE
 A platform-lever enables faster development and greater performance at a lower price. There are many types of platform-levers. Learn more in The Profound Impact of Product Line Strategy.
 Market Segments divide between noun-based segmentation schemas (traditional) and verb-based schemas (jobs-to-be-done) segmentation. This helps pinpoint specific attribute sets for new products and future innovations that enable success.