Story Mapping

Business Agility Office

Story mapping consists of ordering user stories along two independent dimensions. The “map” arranges user activities along the horizontal axis in rough order of priority (or “the order in which you would describe activities to explain the behaviour of the system”). Down the vertical axis, it represents increasing sophistication of the implementation.

Given a story map so arranged, the first horizontal row represents a “walking skeleton”, a barebones but usable version of the product. Working through successive rows fleshes out the product with additional functionality.

User story mapping is a visual exercise that helps product managers and their development teams define the work that will create the most delightful user experience. It is used to improve teams’ understanding of their customers and to prioritize work.

In user story mapping, teams create a dynamic outline of a representative user’s interactions with the product, evaluate which steps have the most benefit for the user, and prioritize what should be built next. For agile organizations, it provides an alternative to building a flat list of backlog items or working from lengthy requirements documents.

User story mapping employs the concept of user stories — which communicate requirements from the perspective of user value — to validate and build shared understanding of the steps to create a product users love. Teams write user stories in a format that captures business value and can be completed within a development iteration (usually called a sprint).

By visually mapping out these user stories, product teams tell the story of the customer journey and break it into parts. This helps them design and build functionality that is focused on desired customer outcomes, instead of solely on development output or feature specifications.

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