User Story Mapping, Explained in Depth

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Plotura Blog – Edition management, software development, value stream management

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In many ways, creating software is like following a recipe for cooking a sumptuous dish. To finish with an appetizing meal, chefs need simple recipes that provide clear, high-level instructions. When a recipe is too crowded and hard to follow, it is easy to miss a step and end up with a meal that is not as tasty as it should be.

Similarly, DevOps teams need to be able to visualize software and understand individual processes. While documenting functional design documentation is important, it is also necessary to see the forest for the trees.

To this end, many DevOps teams are now relying on user story mapping strategies to better understand what it’s like for people to use their software. Read on to learn how a user story mapping works, the benefits it offers and some tools you can use to make the process easier.

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What is a user story mapping?

In short, user story mapping is an imaging strategy that agile software development teams use to understand and communicate user experience workflows.

Basically, mapping user stories includes a description of all the different interactions that a user will go through when using the software. This is basically a step-by-step guide that lists specific routes that users can take during the session.

Teams typically create story maps of users at the beginning of a project and update them during iteration, testing and software development. As the software is constantly improving, users’ story maps need to be current documents that change over time.

An example of a user story mapping

User story mapping may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite simple.

To illustrate, an agile team may create a user story map when designing a new feature for a mobile banking app. In this case, you will start by defining an activity – or user function – as a check deposit. After setting up a task, you describe the individual steps that an end user will go through to complete the activity. For example, this could include signing in, accessing an account, entering mobile deposit information, confirming a transaction, and so on.

Example of a user story map

Given that applications can be extremely complex and contain many different tasks, it is common to have multiple story maps for a single piece of software. At the same time, you can also get a high-level story map with an overview of what the user might do during the session.

It is important to have a system for organizing and sharing user story mapping so that teams can easily switch between maps and compare.

Who should do user story mapping?

User story mapping is an internal inter-functional exercise. At the end of the day, the goal of mapping user stories is to align teams and help build a better product.

Therefore, product managers should invite all stakeholders to contribute to the user story map. This may include design, sales, marketing, customer support, IT, law, finance and even level C executives.

Generally, it is best to collect feedback from multiple teams and departments, but one person or team should have a map and make changes. Restriction of ownership prevents different map versions and makes it easier to collect and manage feedback. After all, the last thing you want is three or four maps that go around with conflicting information.

Keep in mind that different teams and departments may have conflicting ideas, approaches, and goals for applications. Therefore, although it is great to gather feedback, it is also important to have a certain diagnosis when combining changes and iteration.

The benefits of user story mapping

Chances are a user story mapping may be a big change for your team, requiring more planning and oversight than you are used to. If this is the case, some adjustment may be required if you are new to the idea. However, this change can yield powerful results, given all the things.

With that in mind, here are some of the key benefits of mapping user stories.

Prioritize tasks

User story mapping can help prioritize tasks and push lower value work to backfire. This strategy can be especially helpful for small, unmanned teams that juggle many projects and responsibilities. Mapping user stories can help work in triage and ensure that the most critical updates receive proper attention.

Gather early feedback

By working on the most important items first, critical feedback can be gathered earlier in the development process. Feedback may come from customers – or it may come from internal testing.

The earlier you collect feedback, the easier and more affordable it will be to make valuable changes.

Discover vulnerabilities

Security vulnerabilities can lead to a variety of issues. They can increase the cost of development and require comprehensive processing. And when you do not catch them, they can provide easy access to the app in the back door, expose sensitive data and put customers at risk.

User story mapping allows you to detect potential vulnerabilities earlier, making it easier to address them before they cause massive problems.

Request resources

Product managers need to keep a close eye on how projects are growing and evolving to keep them under control. A small project can look much different as time goes on – especially when more teams jump on board and start contributing.

For example, what might start as a small product or feature update can become an idea for a new app or service once sales, marketing and management teams learn about it.

Through careful mapping of user stories, managers can keep track of changing project requirements and request additional capital, human and system resources to manage them.

Improve product road mapping

Today’s competition in the market requires looking ahead and planning for future growth and development. Great apps always have a clear roadmap with a steady stream of features and additions in the pipeline.

The trick is to anticipate what users are looking for and distribute features that meet those needs on a regular basis. This way, you can keep your finger on the pulse of what people want – and prevent users from abandoning your apps to competitors who offer better products.

User story mapping simplifies the road mapping process by allowing you to view existing processes and understand how future changes may be integrated into them.

Popular tools for mapping user stories to explore

Gone are the days of using bulletin boards and sticky notes to map user stories. Today, more and more teams are using digital story mapping tools to chart work processes and share insights.

The following tools can help streamline the user’s story mapping and yield optimal results.


Jira Allows you to build simple user story maps alongside agile boards and drag and drop them based on priority.

a plane

a plane Is another leading story mapping tool for agile product teams. This tool makes it easy to identify dependencies and plan releases.


Plotura is a popular SaaS value management (VSM) platform. The platform helps capture critical feedback and incorporate insights directly into editions.

Why use Plutura to map a user story?

Plotura was built specifically for planning and scheduling software releases, making it a great choice for agile teams. For example, you can use Plutura to draw project stages and quality gates. This, in turn, reduces the schedule and quality risks. In addition, Plotura lets you configure stakeholder roles and set up automatic alerts and tasks.

One of the most influential features of Plutura is its distribution log. This tool keeps teams on the same page throughout all stages of development, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals. Plotura makes it quick and easy to visualize user stories, role assignment and progress monitoring.

Overall, this is a must-have tool if you are serious about mapping user stories. To experience Plutura in action, set up a free demo today.

Justin Reynolds

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science and creativity can help employees be more productive. In his spare time, he likes to watch or play live music, take a walk and take a walk.




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