Example Mapping

Example Mapping Template

Create a shared understanding of a new product feature.

About the Example Mapping Template

Example mapping (or user story mapping) helps product managers and their teams quickly break down product backlogs. Ideally, example maps help a cross-functional team (for instance, a product owner, tester, and developer) build up a shared understanding and language for why product features need to be added or changed.

Team leads can offer strategic direction toward a cohesive digital transformation (or timely upgrade) so your team has the relevant technology to stay competitive.

What is example mapping?

An example mapping session is a great way to develop structured, concrete user stories. Each example uncovered can help teams explore problem areas for customers and decide on acceptable criteria to build a new feature. 

There are a few key elements that an example mapping tool can delineate:

  • Rules that sum up examples or agree on the scope of the user story

  • Questions or assumptions about situations where no one knows the ideal outcome

  • New stories that should be discovered or left out of the final scope

Example mapping also relies on a color-coded system to shape the scope of a user story:

  • Yellow sticky notes are for defining stories, such as “change of delivery address”

  • Blue sticky notes are for defining rules, such as “ETA is updated”

  • Green sticky notes are for defining examples, like “New address is out of range”

  • Red sticky notes are for questions, like “what if the customer lives outside the free shipping zone?”

This color-coded system helps steer the conversation in the right direction and keep the discussion on track. You can use a blank example mapping template to quickly and easily begin filling in the relevant fields to get the conversation started.

When to use example mapping

Example mapping is a collaborative method that can help your team define what accepted user behavior looks like for different scenarios. An example mapping tool can be a useful way to align your cross-functional teams toward:

  • Empathy for the customer and the team. Everyone should understand why new product features are needed, and what the customer may be struggling with as far as conflicts between stories and rules.

  • Shared understanding of the industry or product. By the end of the example mapping session, the team should leave with a shared language and appreciation for what’s at stake.

  • Small yet impactful potential for change. Think big and act small as a team. How soon can each recorded user story be translated into a real feature?

  • Rules and examples that follow logic. Specific rules and scenarios should back up every user story.

Create your own example map

Making your own example maps is easy. Miro’s whiteboard tool is the perfect canvas to create and share them. Get started by selecting the example mapping template, then take the following steps to make one of your own.

  1. Understand the problem. Ask your product owner to define the user problem on a yellow sticky note, then explain how this translates to a need for a change in the product features. This helps the team better understand the problem. 

  2. Challenge the problem by asking follow-up questions. Collect all your team’s questions on red sticky notes, starting with “What if...?” These questions will live under your user story (the yellow sticky note). 

  3. Figure out the rules. Find the rules in the answers to the questions on red sticky notes. Each rule is your acceptance criteria for new product features. Make sure that every new rule can stand on its own. Ideally, it shouldn't be confused with or too similar to another rule.

  4. Describe situations with relevant examples. Green sticky notes are where you record and collect interesting potential cases or instances. Keep the discussion going, and engage your team’s critical thinking skills by checking if you’ve reached the boundaries of the rule of your examples, as well as considering what happens if the rule fails. 

  5. Identify outcomes, impacts, and success metrics. What do you hope to accomplish with a new product feature, and how does it contribute to your business objectives? Consider how you might track and test the success of each proposed feature – what behavior you’ll be looking for and measuring. 

  6. Turn your stories into action items. These stories can be turned into a development plan for a new feature or product. They can also form the basis of a minimum amount of features needed to be valuable to your customer.

FAQs about example mapping

What is an example mapping technique?

Example mapping is a collaborative process. Ideally you should gather your team and agree on the scope of your example mapping and which questions or assumptions should be discussed. Once these agreements have been defined, you can use an example mapping template to fill in the color-coded stickies and workshop together as a group.

Example Mapping Template

Get started with this template right now.

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