When should you create an impact map? If you read our previous articles covering the concept of Impact Mapping and how to create impact maps, you might’ve asked this question. This technique is simple, yet so powerful, has quite a few applications and we’ll try to uncover most of them in this post.
So when should you start mapping impacts? I’d go with these 6 cases (but there may be more):
- Defining features for a non-existing product
- Looking for some solid proof that your ideas are sound
- Planning the next / spring or release aka prioritizing features
- Looking for a proof for your customer that a feature is worthless
- Proving your customer that a feature is actually pretty worthy
- Getting everybody on the same page in terms of business goals and strategy
Let’s go over each in a bit more detail.
Alright. So you don’t have a product yet. Not even a prototype. More than that – you have no clue what you should and what you shouldn’t include in this yet-to-be-developed product. And it’s a perfect time for impact mapping!
At this point, it is all about brainstorming and generation all sorts of ideas. In fact, impact mapping is a mind map on steroids. That is why it works miracles when it comes to generating ideas.
So start with defining business goals and let your imagination loose. By the end of this session, you will have a bunch of cool – even crazy sometimes – ideas, which soundness you will want to prove. Guess what? You can do this by running another session. And that is right ahead.
Sometimes you have a whole lot of ideas that may seem wonderful. Whether you came up with these ideas during a brainstorming session like the previous case, or it was your gut. Doesn’t matter because you need to prove them to be certain that these ideas are worth investments.
Creating an impact map at this stage can help you sift these ideas. But this time you can start with the last stage aka deliverables and do some reverse-engineering all the way back to the business goals.
Once it’s done, you will see how all parts of this puzzle match with each other. It’ll show you all breaches in your strategy as well as what features and ideas are the most profitable and need to be implemented ASAP.
Planning the Next Sprint / Release
A well-thought impact map gives you the ultimate overview of your entire product. It also shows where your product is on the readiness graph.
By looking at it, you can clearly see which personas are already satisfied and which are not. Which features are implemented and which you should include in the next sprint.
Thus, IM works perfectly when you want to zoom out and see how ready your project is as well as to prioritize features for the next releases.
Proving Your Client that a Feature Is / Isn’t Worth Enough
Let’s face it – you’ve been there. A client insists that you include this or that feature, but you know that it won’t be good for the product. How can you prove him wrong?
Create an impact map and he will see it for himself. The map will show how this feature aligns with the business goals and whether or not it benefits the product. Or it could be that, by the end of your impact mapping session, you will see that you weren’t as right as you thought.
And it works both ways: you can prove your customer that a feature he or she disapproves is, in fact, worth all investments!
Getting Everyone on the Same Page
Last but not least, impact mapping rocks when you want to get everyone on the same page in terms of strategy and business goals.
Once you show you map to teammates, everyone will get in sync as to what your business goals are and how exactly you want to achieve them.
Knowing where each feature comes from and what user’s needs it meets creates better communication inside of the team which leads to internal processes optimization.
To do impact mapping or not is up to you, but if you do, make sure you map with UXPressia’s Impact Mapping Online. It’s the ultimate tool you can use to create, store and share impact maps on the web. It’s the perfect solution for distributed and for collocated teams.