Story Mapping

If you’re looking for the best alternative to create a better backlog that will surely help you explain your system, plan and rank your releases, story mapping is such a perfect option.

What is it?

Story mapping is a practice designed to provide a more organized approach to release planning. Also called User Story Mapping, it covers ordering user stories together with two independent proportions. The map organizes user activities alongside horizontal axis in coarse order of priority. While down the perpendicular axis, it shows rising sophistication of the application.

Story mapping organizes user stories in a valuable model to detect omissions and holes in backlog, understand system functionality and efficiently plan all-inclusive releases that provide value both to businesses and users with every release.

Why doing it?

Using story mapping has many beneficial returns that you and your business will surely benefit in the long run. Some of these expected benefits are:

  • Split large requirements in small parts

Story maps will allow you to become brief when it comes to requirement description mainly because you can organize requirements in groups and deliver in small releases.

  • Defers the less significant requirements to another release

It will now be easier for you to defer less significant requirements to a potential release since the requirements are distinct in smaller increments. Unlike a partial product with tough whistles and bells, your project team is more likely to achieve greater success at supplying a particular product your customer critically needs.

  • Visualize the system or product roadmap

When you handed your customer a spreadsheet or document inventory with numerous page requirements, he will probably start skimming the document and miss an essential requirement that he would be held responsible to in the development period. But when you use story mapping, the focus is simply smaller and your client can visually understand the requirements delivered during the first, second or subsequent releases.

  • Improve customer relationship

In terms of communication to customers, story map is an excellent tool. Your customer will clearly understand the type of functionality that will be delivered with every release, since all requirements are associated to specific process releases and steps.

What’s more, story map can be easily converted into agile project management tools such as Mingle as your product backlog.

How to do it?

The structure of your story map should be Goals > Activities > Tasks > Stories.

Group your stories by theme/application/functionality and make the grid. For instance, you can find the title for every group functionality in a horizontal way, and the main issues or stories connected to every group in a vertical way. Prioritize the functionalities from more important (left) to less important (right). Then, every group will have the stories ordered again vertically. As soon as the stories are ranked, you can now begin the surgical operation – slice the list.

Difficult as it may seem, but when you try practicing and doing it on your own, multiple benefits can be gained. Later on, you will find that story mapping is even easier than dealing with a list of stories.

— Slimane Zouggari