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Beyond user story mapping: release lookahead user story mapping?

July 18, 2012

(Full article on scrumalliance.org: http://scrumalliance.org/articles/454-give-life-to-your-product-backlog)

I had been using user story mapping as explained by Jeff Patton (http://www.agileproductdesign.com/blog/the_new_backlog.html). I have found it very useful to give some dimension to the product backlog and generate more discussions on how we are going to build the product itself: it is visual and generates lots of questions that are both business and technical related. So our story map looked like this until…

So until our team synchronise with all the other teams during a release planning session (big room day). We had to plan out what we intended to do for the next 4 sprints. It was not a commitment but he goal was to provide an idea of what we could deliver for that release, based on our velocity. So our map looks like this now:

Basically, we took the user story map and “rotated” it (-90 deg) with added information regarding timeline based on our velocity. We did it quite naturally with the team and we are still using it. We have not had any issues from management and we continuously explain our the product backlog works and that commitment is only on a per sprint basis. It also helps showing the architecture runway (blue stickers). “?” indicates we can’t commit to that.

I am curious about whether you have had the same experience: as the scrum team is getting better at scrum and is really making the most of agile principles, we are getting smarter in the way we collaborate using accurate visual information while sticking always to agile principles!

Any feedback is welcome!

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