Story mapping, also referred to as user story mapping, is used to outline new features for existing products and/or new products. It’s a technique that plays an important function in product discovery. The story mapping process results in a story map, which features arranged, functional groups of user stories.
The technique serves two important purposes – prioritization of development and facilitation of product discovery. Through story mapping, tasks and user activities can be put on a map for always keeping them in context. Every individual story, when arranged in a story map, can be scrutinized for loopholes. Eventually, the identification and understanding of these loopholes can result in better application development and end-product.
In this post, we’ll take you through all the benefits of story mapping and how they are collectively helping modern-day businesses to engage and involve their audiences. So, without any further delays, let’s get this post started.
1. Story maps help in identifying the most important requirements ahead of anything else
Through story maps, development teams have a clear understanding of the most important requirements. That’s why they can focus on meeting these requirements before anything else. Also, all the features that fulfill the requirements can be delivered simultaneously without any time-consuming gaps in the delivery process. Teams are able to validate systems by following the story mapping approach, and business processes can be refined in future iterations as well.
2. Story maps improve a business’ communication with its customers
As story maps help businesses to prioritize requirements, they also allow customers to know what’s coming next. For example, if a functionality or feature wasn’t released previously and is re-prioritized by the customer in the story map, the customer can expect that functionality or feature to be delivered as a part of the next release. In this way, user story mapping allows businesses to keep customers engaged and involved in the product development process.
3. Story maps allow large requirements to be split into small slices
When product development teams have to tackle large requirements, they are typically more likely to be overwhelmed. As a result, the development of the product may be affected, leading to half-baked features and/or functionalities. This is a problem that story mapping can be used to tackle, as it’s a technique that can make large requirements more manageable and organized by splitting them into smaller slices. Sure, this may increase the number of requirements. However, it allows product development teams to meet all those requirements one by one without getting overwhelmed.
4. Story maps allow system roadmaps and/or products to be visualized
Story maps help in narrowing down the focus of customers to individual releases and the requirements they meet. Once a release is delivered to the customer, it’s up to the customer to re-prioritize the story map depending on the requirements that are yet to be met. Along with the customer, the product and/or project development team also stays more informed about adjusting the system roadmap or product in the future. For example, a feature that’s a low priority can be reprioritized by the customer into an early release.
5. Story maps are beneficial in deferring low priority requirements to later releases
Through user story mapping, it’s much easier to understand what low-priority requirements are. Once these requirements are identified and understood, they can be deferred to future releases. Ultimately, story mapping allows products to be developed in alignment with the users’ needs instead of products with a lot of styles but little substance. This comes in handy even in situations when projects are terminated, or their fundings is reduced, as customers can keep enjoying the benefits of working software that addresses prior requirements.
Story mapping mistakes to avoid
Despite the potential for success that story maps offer, there are certain mistakes that may be made during the story mapping process – mistakes that you need to steer clear of. Let’s take a look at those mistakes in this section:
Not knowing who the story maps are being created for. The ultimate goal of a story map is to understand the problems of the end-user. However, when you don’t know who the story maps are for, there may be various problems encountered during the product development process.
Losing sight of the original product vision. This becomes a possibility when there are numerous stories that emerge, leading to the linear story being sidelined.
Story maps may also go wrong when the acceptance criteria are unclear. In such a scenario, story maps will only result in extra work and unnecessary delays.
If you’re new to story mapping, you may focus way more on the features of the product than on the end user’s requirements that the product should meet.
You may also end up creating story maps without anyone else in mind but you. In this situation, the story maps you create may divert you a long way away from your original goals.
So, while story mapping is a very beneficial process, it needs to be done right for both product development teams and users to reap its rewards.