Product roadmaps aren’t delivery plans.
A product roadmap is a way to articulate your strategy—it’s your best guess of the bets you need to take to move your product forward.
A delivery plan, on the other hand, is your short-term approach for implementing the features you’re currently working on to place those bets.
When you think of roadmaps as strategy and delivery plans as tactics then you begin to see the difference.
Roadmaps are conceptual and should be closely linked to your product vision and goals.
Delivery plans should be closely linked to what your engineers are working on now.
Roadmaps are dateless.
It’s fine to bucket your bets into time horizons (now, next, later), but you shouldn’t tie your strategic objectives to deadlines.
Delivery plans, on the other hand, are all about dates—when are you going to launch the new feature you’ve got in QA?
As a PM, blurring the line between roadmaps and delivery plans can cause a lot of headaches for you, your team, your stakeholders, and your customers.
Roadmaps and delivery plans are valuable tools to help you execute, but make sure you’re clear about what you’re using them for.