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How to make roadmaps with your usual office tools

Learn how to build compelling and clear roadmaps using the productivity tools you’re familiar with.

Learn how to create roadmaps

Using roadmaps to communicate your vision and strategy

Roadmaps are an effective means to document the major strategic steps needed to reach an overall goal, making it easy to visualize the big-picture plan for getting to the desired outcome. Product or project managers who want to clearly articulate and implement their strategies through impactful roadmaps can use standard office software to produce such high-level visuals. Alternatively, they can opt for a purpose-built roadmap maker to automate the process and generate more refined graphics.

Given that the process of making an easy-to-follow, compelling roadmap with such tools might prove time-consuming, we’ve put together a series of step-by-step tutorials and other useful resources to help you get started.

Roadmap made in Excel
How to make a roadmap in Microsoft Excel

Professionals who prefer to organize and track their strategic objectives in a spreadsheet format can use Excel’s editing tools and Shapes function to turn their data into a roadmap that they can use for recurring communications to clients and executives. Check out our detailed tutorial on how to create a roadmap in Excel and also discover how to automate the whole process with a dedicated roadmap maker.

Roadmap made in Powerpoint
How to make a roadmap in Microsoft PowerPoint

A go-to platform for creating engaging presentations for various purposes, PowerPoint can also cater to a project or product manager’s need to showcase their strategic plans through a clear roadmap slide. Click the button below for a step-by-step guide on how to make a roadmap in PowerPoint both manually and automatically.

Roadmap made in Microsoft Project
How to make a roadmap in Microsoft Project

Apart from its well-known scheduling, tracking, and reporting tools used in managing complex plans, Microsoft Project has also a more exclusive one called Roadmap. Available only within the Project App in Office 365, it helps users create high-level roadmaps for collaboration and presentation purposes but requires advanced access permissions. This tutorial explains how to enable this specific feature in your account, but also presents an easier alternative to turning your MS Project data into impactful roadmaps.

Roadmap made online
How to make a roadmap online

Professionals who need to easily share strategic plans and collaborate with their teams on a regular basis can work with Google Sheets to create roadmaps online. Although the online tool does not have a roadmap feature per se, it allows users to build such a graphic by formatting a data table to include swimlanes and shapes that represent milestones and tasks. Click below to see the exact steps of the process and also how you can automate it using a web-based roadmap maker.

FAQs about making roadmaps

Check out this section to find out the answers to the most frequently asked questions about making a roadmap.

How do I make a roadmap for free?

You can create a roadmap for free by using online pre-built templates that you can customize with your own data, thus saving time and effort in illustrating your strategic plans.
Check out our varied collection of free, downloadable and professionally-designed roadmap templates and start building your very own.

What should be included in a roadmap?

Used to illustrate the main steps required to achieve an overarching goal, a roadmap should always include the following essential elements:
  • tasks and initiatives;
  • releases and milestones;
  • features (if you are dealing with the launch and development of a product);
  • any dependencies between the underlying tasks outlined in the high-level plan.

How do I create a roadmap in Excel?

You can create a simple Excel roadmap using the spreadsheet platform’s usual editing tools. Here are the main steps you need to follow:
  1. Open a new Excel spreadsheet.
  2. Set the printable area to the A4 format.
  3. Use the top row of your spreadsheet to list the main dates of your timeline.
  4. Set up your swimlanes in alternating shades of grey.
  5. Within each of your outlined swimlanes, draw shapes (rectangles, circles, triangles) to represent your project items.
  6. Color your project items with Red, Amber, or Green, depending on their risk status or other color codes you choose.
  7. Add comments to the items that require attention.
  8. Add a legend.

Check out our full tutorial for a more detailed demonstration on how to make a roadmap in Excel with screenshots included.

PowerPoint Roadmap Maker

For business strategy meetings with high-level audiences, product and project managers can use a PowerPoint roadmap maker to build compelling visuals in a matter of minutes. The Office Timeline add-in for PowerPoint seamlessly integrates with popular office tools to automatically turn complex data into roadmap slides that can be updated on the fly.

Easily import project data into Office Timeline

Office Timeline is a great tool for creating visually appealing and easy to understand PowerPoint schedules. The ability to import existing data into Office Timeline (e.g. MS Project) and then edit is invaluable. I use this on a weekly basis and would not want to be without it!

Christer Hiort, PMP
Director of Project Operations, Ericsson

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