Working on the mobile products of Prezi, we realized with the pm and my designer pair that we have an issue coordinating our 4 developer teams, and backlogs don’t communicate well enough what everybody needs to do and how it relates to the big picture. Every dev team had their own goals with the design tasks barely keeping up, so we faced a possibly broken experience. There was no clear focus and we only had a very high business case. I needed to find a way to build a shared understanding to get the teams focused.

introducing user story map to people outside of the team team task planning with user story map understanding wider context with story map
Using user story maps to share, plan and understand

On the advice of my manager, I started to look into this method and read the new book by Jeff Patton about user story mapping. It seemed the right method to use, as it provided a unified view of product, design, and development with enough detail for the devs to know what to work on and when, while also showing the overall goals. I facilitated the creation of the first version with the pm and designer. We had done enough research to have a good understanding of what the users would need from the product.

After creating the first map, I did sessions with each of the dev teams to get their buy-in and also to iterate on parts of the map where it wasn’t clear enough. During the development, we used a modified map to coordinate design and development efforts, adding details when needed, and showing progress. Since this experience, I love story maps as one of the best ways to build shared understanding inside cross-functional teams and among stakeholders. I also introduced this method at Emarsys.