What is Impact Mapping and Why Do You Need It?

Impact mapping is a strategic planning technique that lets your team set business goals and visualize the way and the means to achieve these goals. Well, this comprehensive explanation is probably far from what you’re looking for. You want the ropes. Laces at least. Since UXPressia has just launched Impact Mapping Tool, we’ll be covering impact mapping a lot. And here’s the first part. For a step-by-step guide to creating an Impact Map click here.

If you could only imagine how many products do not make it to the market. The numbers would make your blood run cold. The reasons are various – lack of clear goals and strategy, bad roadmap decisions, loss of team coordination, scope-creep…the list goes on to infinity and beyond.

How to see the bigger picture, align goals, create a working strategy, and communicate it all to the team so that the final product hits the market like a hurricane?

That’s where Impact Mapping comes into play.

What is Impact Mapping?

Impact_Mapping_Example

As it comes from the name, impact mapping is about impact. What sort of impact? And…who exactly will be impacted? And in what way? After all, will your product make any impact? And the most important question: why would you want to make this impact in the first place?

That’s a whole lot of questions we got here. As a matter of fact, the whole concept of Impact Mapping is built upon these questions.

So let’s try to answer them one by one, shall we?

Why aka Goal

This one is the father of all questions in the world of Impact Mapping. “Why” describes the business goal you want to achieve.

Say you want to increase the weekly number of sales in your online store (that sells paper clips) by 30% in a matter of a month (Should I say your goals have to be SMART?).

Who aka Actors

owl

Setting right goals is great, but who will help you achieve them? That’s where we ask the second group of questions. Who are your users or any actors involved? Who can help you achieve what you want and who will be impacted? And, on the other hand, who will be likely to prevent you from achieving your goals?

You can include different groups of your customers as well as employees in this section.

If we get back to the example with an online store, your users can be office clerks, paper clip collectors or students. It goes without saying, there will be influencers among your staff. Managers, tech support guys, and couriers.

Map them all! And remember that, personas can be of great help at this point.

How aka Impact

Once you have your “WHOs” lined up, it’s time to think how they can benefit whatever goal you’ve set. Or how exactly you want their behavior to change. Essentially, this “how” is the impact you’re trying to create.

With your paper clip online store, you might want collectors to buy more of your exclusive leather covered paper clips and share their impressive collections on Instagram to encourage other obsessive people. You might want office clerks to buy more frequently and in bigger amounts. Same could be for students.

What aka Deliverables

The next stop on you Impact Map will be the question “WHAT”. What can you do to make the above-stated impacts? These will be deliverables from your company.

What can you do to make paper clip collectors buy more of your exclusive paper clips? Make them more exclusive? Add urgency or state your clips’ uniqueness? Add some fascinating stories? Like how Abraham Lincoln himself used to clip his drafts with your clips.

lincoln_quote

User Stories

At the end of each Impact Map branch, there’s a bunch of User Story that translates deliverables into specific features to be implemented. You’ll use them to calculate a business value, development efforts and set priorities accordingly. To learn more about user stories you can read this post.

Impact mapping links your project to the real world and shows what impacts (if any) your deliverables will make. It brings more clarity to the team regarding goals and strategy.

Notice how we started with business goals and mapped our way straight to specific features that can be passed to the development team. And what’s really great – at this point, we can be sure that we’re implementing features that will certainly make an impact.

Done well, impact mapping leads to making better roadmap decisions, avoiding scope creep and over-engineered solutions – everything that makes projects lay an egg.

So that was our brief introduction into Impact Mapping. More on that you can read in this wonderful book called “Impact Mapping Making a Big Impact with Software Products and Projects” by Gojko Adzic. This technique works perfect bundled with Personas and Customer Journey Mapping. Use them together so you can keep both front and back end of your business intact. Add UXPressia’s Impact Mapping Tool to your arsenal and your business will become invincible!

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