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The basics of user story mapping
Each agile user story map is composed of 5 carefully yet intuitively structured stages:
- Verbalize Activities: Sketch a high-level overview of your story. Before you go into details, you need an outline of the thing you want to build. This is an excellent exercise for agile product managers in planning with the big picture in mind.
- Break it down to Steps: Start building the story step by step. Simulate the user’s journey through the product, corresponding with their needs and pains. It’s important to break down the user journey to as many steps as possible – the deeper you drill down, the richer your picture becomes, making sure you don’t skip any critical stages or give yourself a pass on any challenging elements.
- Cultivate the Stories: Start pouring life into the steps. Broaden your vision to include details and put flesh on the bones. You will notice that you start scrutinizing your product on an insane detail level. This is where the plot thickens: you may start to find different use cases for different details and elements.
- Prioritize Elements: Prioritization is when you get to decide what matters, what matters less and what should be scrapped. Prioritize elements according to relevance and user needs. Note that this isn’t product prioritization yet, but a more intuitive “taking stock” measure.
- Introduce Personas to the Mix: Create personas and apply them to the stories. Notice that in some cases, the steps vary so much for the new persona, that it spins off a whole new story. This is a good point to stop, take a step back and decide whether or not this new persona’s needs are within the scope of the target audience.
User Stories in Agile Management
Story mapping is perhaps the most simple, yet important stage in the agile product management process. For collaborative teams, it will often spark new ideas and discussions relating to the user stories, ultimately contributing to the improvement of solutions. As opposed to the one-way definition of specs and requirements, user stories leave room for discussion and improvements. Effective story mapping is a viable starting point in the organization of your backlog and the product roadmap in an outwardly organized manner. It is a product discovery tool that helps to make requirements understandable, build its common comprehension, distinguish crevices the gaps in backlog and catch the interdependencies, better perform the relative estimation. Furthermore, it can help with the backlog slicing into the timely releases and other arrangement activities.
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