5 reasons why your project needs a user story map

User Story

5 reasons why your project needs a user story map

User story mapping helps to match stories to parent epics, giving a better overview of the project. This not only sorts the backlog better, but also simplifies release planning. 

Build the right product at the right time - this is one of the central challenges of agile software development.
Product owners, product managers and finally the development teams are confronted with never-ending tasks every day: Why don't you implement this story! Can we get this feature in the pack release? Can you do it in this sprint?

Even if the Scrum Master pushes the team to the highest performance level, a poorly managed product backlog can jeopardize the project's success. So how to get past the Product Backlog, which is mostly a long (hopefully prioritized) list?

With a user story map! If any of these five reasons apply to your project, it's time for a round of user story mapping.

What is a User Story Map?

It's pretty simple: all tickets, issues and tasks are visualized in a large map. The big themes (often referred to as features and epics) go at the top of the map, running from left to right. Below this are smaller tasks (e.g. stories). The columns represent versions or releases.

In this way, you and your team can easily determine and determine which tasks make sense for which release. One possibility is to print out or write down all the tasks and hang them on a wall; there are also digital solutions for this.

From the long, chaotic list to the clear map

Do you have more items in your product backlog than lines of code? With luck, are the first five stories in the right order? And you don't even want to look at what's at the bottom?

Then it's time to create transparency and look the backlog in the face: Create a user story map that includes all items from the backlog. No matter how old, no matter how big, bring it on!

long list

Your team needs to know what's in the backlog

With luck, your team has an idea of ​​the sprint backlog and knows roughly what the other colleagues are working on? Planning and refinement are team tasks and therefore your team should also know what to expect in the next sprints. In addition: What is the idea of ​​the product, the goal of the whole? Are the team members haphazard? If that's the case, get an overview together and use the knowledge of all team members to move the product and planning forward.

Your stakeholders don't understand how the project is going

Are the stakeholders pointing the gun at the product owner and demanding releases, updates and features? Or do they just shrug their shoulders in the review because they don't even know what they want?

With a user story map, you can show your stakeholders where the project currently stands and what the plan is. What has already been done, what is still on the agenda, when should what happen? Agile working does not mean working without a plan. But on the contrary!


Your release planning is based on the lunar calendar

Now don't get distracted: When the moon is full, it's sprint planning. According to the Scrum Guide, a sprint lasts 4 weeks (maximum) and so does the lunar cycle, so...

There are actually better methods for smart planning: Use the user story map to create meaningful releases. Discuss the expenses and estimates with the team and think about which stories you can assign to which release.

Everyone works remotely, even your post-it notes

What can I say after 2 years in the home office? Everything works online. And a lot better too! For example, you can connect your issue tracking tool with clever whiteboard tools (e.g. Jira with Miro) or get the right add-on.

Then your user story map is safe from fallen notes, copying mistakes and you save yourself work if you have everything in one digital place.

So put your feet up, invite your team and make a user story map that will make the heart of your project beat! But don't worry: you can always wrap your used chewing gum in the paper Post-Its you still have in the drawer.

Links to book and blog post


Nina Rabe
Scrum Master