One of the advantages of implementing agile software development is the way it divides large sets of requirements into smaller, vertical slices of functionality, allowing a step-by-step product construction where all participants can follow the result of the process in each iteration.
Being able to accompany this process encourages users to participate more actively in the different areas of a project. However, when we start to break down the requirements, constructing the product backlog can become confusing and have negative consequences. This is because the general overview of the product can easily be lost, affecting what the software is supposed to do and how the user stories should relate in a coherent way, which could lead to software being developed that does not add value to the business.
Story Mapping is an excellent technique that consists of creating and prioritizing user stories, from the users’ point of view while aligning them with the needs of the business.
The Columbus Egg of Story Mapping
Story Mapping is a method invented by Jeff Patton and is a technique used in agile software development, which helps the team to understand and systematize the scope of the project. It complements the activities of a Scrum team allowing you to make a list of goals from the customer’s perspective focusing on the value of the business. A Story Mapping workshop takes place in sessions of two to three days, depending on the goal that needs to be achieved, and in the presence of the technical team, the product owner, the business analysts and the UX specialists.
Advantages of Story Mapping
Global view – provides a holistic view and a space to think about how user stories relate to each other;
Versatility – can be used in several phases of a project, for example, in an initial workshop to systematize the overview of the product or it can be applied to a smaller context to redefine and prioritize the user stories that integrate the product backlog;
Shared knowledge – allows you to build a shared understanding of the features to be developed and how they relate to each other. This helps the participants to understand and imagine the product better and it promotes an exchange of ideas between the business areas and the IT teams;
Focusing on the business value – this allows you to identify the dependencies and priorities between user stories, preventing the delivery of a feature to be conditioned by the dependence on another, which, although with less business value, may prevent users from using the product.
Creating a Story Map
In the process of making a Story Map, a simple visual is created that supports a discussion on objectives and great ideas including the principles of the product to be developed.
Along the horizontal axis, and by order of importance, the activities are described which the user intends to carry out in the software. On the vertical axis, we find the details associated with each activity, which help to create a more refined backlog. The dynamic is user-centered and encourages debate on the best way to deliver business value in the shortest amount of time.
The result is a simple, matrix-like structure that tells a detailed story from left to right and which is further divided from top to bottom.
Telling a story with a future perspective in mind by assuming how users intend to carry out the activities in the software to be developed, allows us to explore the details and the options, reducing gaps, identifying dependencies between activities and re-prioritizing the work to be developed.
This technique also allows us to identify a set of functionalities that guarantee the delivery of a first version of the software that constitutes the MVP (Minimum Valuable Product), guaranteeing significant deliveries, and this allows the user to be part of a journey.
The main priority in agile software development is to satisfy the customer through the anticipated and continuous delivery of value. It is a strategy based on placing the customer at the center of the business.
askblue’s Advanced Certified ScrumMaster