Using Story Maps to Build High-Value Software Releases

Solution design and implementation strategy is integral to getting the most out of your Salesforce investment. We’ve used many frameworks and tools for solution design across the years, testing which methods produce the right solutions, at the right time, and the right budget. In recent years we’ve become very fond of tool called the Story Map.

As a client, a story map is one of the first things our Solution Architects will develop with you for your project, and it will provide the basis for planning incremental releases moving forward. What is a story map, why is it better than a traditional flat backlog, and what does the process of creating one look like? Let's dive in and take a look!

Story Map using Sticky Notes on a Whiteboard

What is a story map?

A story map is designed to map a user's journey across the various activities they undertake with your Salesforce software. It identifies all the potential user stories and considers the features that help those users along the way. In its focus on the workflow and complete experience, a story map helps break down releases into high-value groupings of functionality that can immediately benefit your users and business.

Why is story mapping better than just a flat backlog?

You're likely familiar with a flat backlog and its list of discrete features and competing priorities. The problem with a backlog is that it doesn't take into account workflow or dependencies. That is to say, you may end up correctly identifying the highest value story, but fail to see that it depends on a lower level feature. Backlogs simply aren't designed to convey that sort of interconnectedness of business workflows, and, as a result, you're left with a list of isolated features with no larger picture to make sense of it all. It's also easy to lose sight of what it is the application is actually doing when you focus exclusively on individual details.

Flat Backlog Compared to Story Map

Story maps, in contrast, are far more expressive than a flat backlog. They provide context for the various features by helping teams visualize activities and workflows from start to finish. Rather than a ranked to-do list of items, you have a more complete picture of all the various user stories and how they move through the software. A story map allows you to more easily identify the high-value stories and know exactly which features are required in order to put them into service. This, in turn, enables you to build releases that are immediately useful with all of the necessary moving parts.

A story map also makes it easier to communicate with stakeholders at all levels and in all areas of your business. Instead of a cryptic list of stories broken down into sprints, you have a more robust visualization of exactly how your application is being used that everyone can understand. This helps keep teams on the same page, and it also helps to manage expectations and gives discernible value to every release.  

How To Create A Story Map

A story map is particularly well-suited for building out applications in Salesforce, in which incremental releases can offer tremendous value across your business. Whether you have ten employees or a thousand, our Solution Architect will guide your team through the same process of crafting a story map to help you get the most bang from your buck and ensure your solutions are meeting every user's needs.

From start to finish, a story map is all about making sure your releases reflect the real needs of your users. You already know that Salesforce is a powerful business application development platform. Get even more out of it for your business with Relay's Salesforce Architect-as-a-Service offering. Our Solution Architects can help in-house teams and implementation partners deliver more effective product development roadmaps by crafting a robust story map for your business or client. Contact us to learn more today!

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