I recently attended the ATS2015 conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and out of all the interesting sessions there, the one that really stood out for me was related to the concept of “User Story Mapping“. This concept was origianally introduced by Jeff Patton, and here is the article that defines the concept in detail: http://agileproductdesign.com/writing/how_you_slice_it.pdf.
I have practiced it on and off and it does work. Here is a summarized version for y’all:
As the product owner grooms and stacks the high level features or user stories in his/her backlog, there is always a gap in the information on how these user stories and features are contextually related to each other. There is a gap in the overall visibility of the system to-be-built. This model of user story mapping is good for filling that gap. The user story mapping exercise is a group activity that involves the product owner, the agile team and a few key stakeholders to create a vision board of the product. The idea is to think as a group, about the usage lifecycle of the to-be-built product from a user’s point of view. And then stack all the features sequentially from left to right on a wall. It further suggests to spread out these features vertically, ordered by the frequency of use. The most commonly used features (the must-have
) stay on top and the seldom used features (the good-to-have
) are pushed to the bottom. Once this arrangement is in place, then the model suggests to carve out horizontal bands of releases by including certain must-have and good-to-have features in each release.
Basically, this model allows to release the most useful features first, so that early feedback is received from the customers and a better product is delivered in the long run. This also helps to avoid building features that are hardly or never used. As features are rolled out, they can be marked as done on this vision board. This also provides a bird’s eye view of where we are on the system, as a whole at a given point in time.