Jens Wollert Ehlers · Apr 29, 2019 · Edited Mar 30, 2020
User story mapping, or just story mapping, is an effective tool to create, plan and communicate your product backlog.
Story mapping was created by Jeff Patton and its primary utility is providing us with an overview of the entire product and how user goals are broken down into a series of tasks. Finally, it helps us to define valuable product slices (releases) and prioritize between them.
For many organizations, the product backlog is just a flat list of features. This might be fine for simple applications, but for complex applications it quickly becomes hard to maintain and communicate.
While simple, an unstructured product backlog has several downsides:
Story mapping addresses all of theses downsides.
A story map is a very simple tool, but it can bring tremendous value if used correctly. In essence, a story map contains the following items and their relationships: Goals, Activities, Features and Releases.
Goals are what the user wants to achieve because it brings value. Goals should be ordered chronologically to cover the full user journey.
Goals are broken down into activities. An activity is a step that the user needs to take in order to reach the goal.
Features are functionality or capabilities that help the user complete a particular activity.
We always want to spend our effort to deliver the most valuable pieces of our product. We do this by defining and prioritizing releases. In a story map, a release is a group of features which spans the whole user journey. They make the priority clear, the most valuable slice is put on top.
That’s it! To get some practical experience, go a have a look at one of our example story map.