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Posted On 10 May 2021

Talk to our experts about User Story Mapping

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A well-maintained product backlog might do wonders but what about the ever-increasing passion for user story mapping. A lot of extensible user story mapping research and contribution is done by Jeff Patton. According to him, user story mapping is one of the best ways to deal with user stories in an agile environment. It has helped many organizations in reducing the gaps between understanding their end user’s need and implementing product features.

Many software visionaries acknowledge user story mapping as one of the best team collaboration activities. It helps them in gaining a wider perspective of the project requirements and organizations believe it helps them in the long run.

Hence, we have built this simple guide to facilitate you with user story mapping briefings.

What is User Story Mapping?

It is mostly used for software features and design strategies. It provides a visual interpretation of user journey workflows for accurate product feature implementation. To understand it better, let us visit the following terms:

  • User:

    Every product is designed to solve user’s problem and every user wants to complete their tasks easily. A product is of less value if it does not solve user issues in a simple and faster way. Thus, a user is a center for any user story mapping activity.

  • User Stories:

    A user story is written in a natural non-technical language about a software feature from a user’s standpoint. They add value by providing a clear idea of the what, the why and the how.

  • User Story Navigation:

    Sometimes navigating through multiple user stories can become a tedious task. This can be solved by categorizing the user stories using post-it notes or some online user story mapping tools.

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How is it Different from Your Product Backlog?

How is it Different from Your Product Backlog?

Every Agile team works on a backlog which is a container of sorts of all the things that need to be built including the feature requests that may come from your customers and the defects that are identified. These are captured in your Agile PM / Collaboration tool of choice and are waiting to be picked up by the team as part of your planning process.

User story mapping provides greater detail about the requirements and especially from an end-user perspective so when the team starts working on the user stories, they know the expectation – the end goal is to offer your users a superior UX. The outcome of the user story mapping helps in creating Backlog.

Also, you will get a clear picture of:

  • Product building purpose.
  • Product consumers and their needs.
  • Product value proposition.
  • Product delivery time.

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Benefits of User Story Mapping

benefits-of-user-story-mapping

Possible main reasons to go for a user story mapping would be:

  • Better Planning:

    With a user story mapping, you will get an idea of project blockers, dependencies, risks, and a clear user journey picture even before the onset of your development phase.

  • Excellent empathy:

    Once Henry Ford said: “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own”. User story mapping does the same by empathizing with your product users. That will help you with building a more engaging product.

  • Improved Prioritization:

    User story mapping helps in identifying the ideal experience you want your customers to go through while interacting with your product. Thereby, it becomes clear which stories to implement first on your journey to create MVP.

  • Better Requirements:

    User story mapping helps you with a better understanding of product features, feasibility, and dependencies.

  • Improved collaboration:

    As all the teams starting from sales, marketing, development, and others come together for a user story mapping activity, the requirements become clearer, and everyone is working towards a common vision.

Let us visit some user story mapping related terms.

User Story, Epic

They are parts of user story mapping and have specific definitions.

User Story:

Earlier in this article, we discussed user stories. Let us understand how to create a user story. In simple words, a user story is the smallest unit of work that provides value to the end-user.

Steps to write user stories:

  • Each user story must be releasable, and they must have a strong granularity. This means multiple user stories can be merged to represent a product feature.
  • Write a good user story using INVEST method.

The INVEST method is proposed by Bill Wake, and it discusses:

  • Independent: Every user story is independent and must be individually releasable.
  • Negotiable: In this phase, the owner is open to the product feasibility discussion with the internal team.
  • Valuable: Every user story must have its user value.
  • Estimable: Each user stories are easy to work on with a tentative delivery timeline.
  • Small: Since the user stories are small, they can be finished in a short period and ready for quick feedback.
  • Testable: They can be easily tested.

The input of a user story: Product requirements.

The output of a user story: Value matching the user’s expectations.

Format: As a [user], I want to [perform an action] so that [I can achieve a specific task].

For example,

As a user, I want to book an appointment so that I am not behind my health checkups.

How to do acceptance testing on a user story?

Format: Given [a scenario], When [some condition], Then [one must get a particular output].

For example,

Given that I went for a health checkup, when I had an appointment, then the doctor did my checkup.

Epic:

Let us think of epic as a collection of user stories that can be developed independently. For example, let us take an epic like “Ticket Booking”, few user stories could be:

  • As a user, I want to book the ticket as a guest so that I can book a ticket without signing into my account.
  • As a user, I want to book the ticket only after logging in so that I can view my booking details every time I sign in.
  • As a user, I want to book the tickets using social media so that I am free from creating a registered account.
  • As a user, I want to book tickets with multiple payment options so that I find it easy while paying for the booking tickets.

A Backbone is another important term that represents the top layer of a user story mapping. This layer helps you with understanding the “Why’s” of a user’s journey.

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Where to Use it?

It is often used in an Agile project environment.

When to Use it?

Usually, user story mapping is done at the beginning of any project or as and when the product takes a new direction.

To implement it, team members and subject matter expert’s brainstorm about user stories and requirements for a clear user journey.

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Who Could be a Possible Participant?

Participants vary depending on the project but typically includes all Internal & External Stakeholders. Typically, this would include:

  • Project team members
  • Marketing & Business users
  • UX designers
  • Alpha / Beta customers and so on

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How to Use it?

Before discussing how to use it, let us see the steps to create a user story mapping.

  • Propose a user journey:

    In this step you should have an answer for the following questions:

    • What is the product about?
    • Who will it help?
    • Why is the product needed in the market?
  • Define the backbone:

    Backbone is the topmost layer and can be derived from writing good user stories.

  • Categorization:

    Once you have the user stories ready, you can group them into certain categories to define higher level items such as Features, Epics etc.

  • Prioritization:

    In collaboration with the internal and external stakeholders, identify the user stories that are the most important and ones that can help create an MVP.

  • Sprint:

    Typically, high priority user stories are picked up by the team for the current Sprint. The remaining ones will continue to be in the Backlog waiting for the next Sprint Planning Meeting for prioritization.

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What are the Methods or Tools for Creating a User Story Mapping?

It is usually conducted in two ways:

Collocated way:

If team members and stakeholders are working in the same location, then user story mapping is created using multiple boardrooms brainstorming sessions. Members would use post-it notes and a whiteboard to categories and visualize. After that, the user stories would be grouped into higher level items such as features or epics. The team would become aware of what Stories to include in the current sprint and what to carry to the next one.

Distributed way:

user story

When the teams and stakeholders are spread across the globe, teams would use an online mode of communication. Video conferencing and collaboration tools are mostly used for user story mapping brainstorming sessions. Many organizations would, also, take the help of user story mapping tools. Some of them are:

Easy Agile User Story Maps:

It is an app by Easy Agile that can be used in Jira workspace. This add-on will help you to effectively carry out story mapping activities. Some features of this tool:

  • You can link backlog with user story maps by drag and drop features. It also helps with the continuous updating of the backlogs.
  • Easy drag and drop user stories on agile storyboards.
  • Swift tracking of sprint activities.

StoriesOnBoard:

This tool is used by remote teams for user story mapping activities. Some of the features are:

  • It helps with accurately capturing user’ requirements.
  • It provides an insightful user story mapping board with user persona.
  • It helps with easy backlog creation.
  • It assists with easy sharing of user story mapping visualizations among the team.
  • It helps with easy task prioritization with good stakeholder connectivity.
  • It allows easy integration with other tools.

Miro:

This tool is known for its user story mapping templates. They are easy to use. Some features are:

  • It provides excellent collaboration between teams.
  • It is an easy-to-use tool.

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Conclusion

User story mapping is great way of building a user-focused product. A user-centric product is a blessing for everyone, including businesses and product users.

User story mapping is one of the best ways to bring teams together with interactive brainstorming sessions. It offers a visual exercise that helps all members to understand what needs to be built to deliver superior UX.

Do you want help with building atomic level user story mapping? Do you want advice on user story mapping tools for your project? Our team’s expertise in user story mapping & Agile transformation could accelerate your Agile maturity journey.

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