Vadim

Digital marketer @ Craft.io

Why Visual Story Maps are Better

Visual story mapping is more than creating your run-of-the-mill to-do list. It is the best technique to enable your entire product management team to visualize multiple dimensions of information – and focus on how everything will come together to form a successful solution. Visual story maps align all product managers and create a common understanding of what needs to get done and how to go about doing it.
If you’re not convinced yet, here are the top reasons why easy agile user story maps are better than any other product management tool out there.

User story maps paint the bigger picture

Visual story mapping gives a holistic view of the entire project, including types of stories, story and project viability, the flow between stories over time, alternative way of completing a single story, the priority of stories and the planned completion or increment of each story and its related product.
The visual presentation of the product backlog (big picture) in the form of stories brings all the product management team members onto the same page, for optimal productivity.

Visual story maps foster collaboration

User story mapping enhances visualization and understanding of the various components and complexities involved in any given project. All product management team members are able to cooperate and collaborate by selecting clearly defined tasks that meet product management needs.

Visual story mapping enables gap analysis

When product management tasks are mapped as visual user stories, team are better able to locate and identify and build missing project elements. They can add these necessary solutions to the workflow and create effective features and solutions, for a more successful final product.
At Craft, we help our customers create easy, agile story maps to support your product management process and facilitate a seamless, methodical journey for your entire product management team.

3 Quick Steps on Building great Story Maps

Epics – left to right

The most basic, affordable, low-tech technique of user story mapping is commonly done with stick-it notes on a board.
Start with the big, general ideas for features, and go from left to right. They’re known asEpics. When you’re done running with the storymap’s main line – only then move on to drilling down into each epic. The idea is to go on an uninterrupted associative journey where you can sprint from one pebble to the next without being sidetracked.  
Jeff Patton calls this practice “flattening the flow”. Only then can we proceed to “rolling it up” – expanding each epic into stories.  

Stories – top to bottom

Next, we drill down into each epic. This we do top to bottom, each story stemming from an epic in the main line. We repeat the associative run with ideas, only this time they are focused on the epic at the base of the story. The map helps us stay in check.
The visual aspect of storymapping is a critical ingredient. When we canseethe way the map takes shape, its helps us organize our thoughts in the shape and direction the ideas are going.  

Storytelling – the method

Like most good methodologies, the secret sauce is in the execution, in “the twist of the wrist”. Work in teams of two when storymapping. Find a quiet, out-of-the way space to work, where you won’t be interrupted.
Why teams of two? So that one of you (assumingly the product owner) can ideate while the other documents and writes up the story maps.
This is another check-and-balance micro-practice, that is meant to afford the idea-owner to run free with their ideas without being burdened by the need to stop and write.

Conclusion

Effective story mapping is a viable starting point in organization of your backlog and the product roadmap in an outwardly organized manner. It is a product discovery tool that helps to make a requirements understandable, build its common comprehension, distinguish crevices the gaps in backlog and catch the interdependencies, better perform the relative estimation. Further, it can likewise help with the backlog slicing into the timely releases and other arrangement activities.

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