Blog - Thu Oct 06 2022

Story Maps for Jira - The Free User Story Mapping Tool

What is User Story Mapping?

User story mapping is a tool that helps agile development teams plan and organize development work by creating a visual representation of user stories or the tasks that need to be completed to achieve a goal. You can use user story maps to track a project's progress and identify potential risks and dependencies. User Story Maps replace the flat backlog that can make it difficult to assess which stories to deliver first and which stories serve the user most. The practice is credited to Jeff Patton, although there is evidence that others used similar techniques around the same time.

Agile Tools and their cost

There are many tools on the market to choose from when it comes to user story mapping. Many can be used with Jira or are integrated directly into Jira. However, few tools are completely free. Story Maps for Jira can be installed in seconds, providing you with everything to start your first story mapping session.

How to create a user story map?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to create a user story map will vary depending on the project and team. However, some tips on creating a user story map include

  1. Define the goal of the user story map. What is the overall goal of the project? What do you want your user story map to achieve? Defining the goal upfront will help create a more focused and effective user story map.

  2. Identify the key stakeholders. Who are the key stakeholders involved in the project? Who will be using the user story map? Identifying the key stakeholders will help you ensure that everyone who needs to be involved in the project is included in the user story map.

  3. Brainstorm the user stories. What specific user stories need to be included in the user story map? Brainstorming the user stories upfront will help you ensure that all the relevant information is included in the user story map.

  4. Create the user story map. Once you have defined the goal, identified the key stakeholders, and brainstormed the user stories, you are ready to create the user story map.

Getting started with Story Mapping in Jira

After installing the app, you will find a new entry in your Jira project's navigation on the left-hand side.

Finding the app in the project navigation

If you already have an agile board defined in your project with epics and assign stories, Story Maps for Jira will import this agile board automatically. If not, you can start creating the user's steps from scratch. All you have to do is click add and then enter a summary. The app will try to fill in all required fields for you.

Create the first steps

Keep adding steps until your are satisfied that you have captured the user's journey through your app or service. You do not have to capture everything - most important is that you list the users essential steps for the function or area you are focusing on with your team.

Steps added to the map

From here you can fill the columns with the stories that need to be done at some point in the future. At this stage, you don't need to think about priority or the sequence of stories, you can re-arrange them later. You can create stories directly from the map by opening the create window and hitting enter.

Adding stories

Stories that already exist can be found in the backlog. You can drag them directly to the story map.

Dragging stories

Once you have a good amount of stories, you can prioritize them by ranking them top to bottom - with the top stories having the highest priority. Or you can drag and drop them to other columns to assign them to a different step.

Prioritizing stories

Story Maps for Jira also lets you do both Sprint & Release planning - simply switch swimlanes to either Sprints or Releases and then drag and drop the stories in place. There is no better way to do release planning in Jira - especially when you have worked with a flat backlog before, you will notice how much more clarity planning on a story map brings you.

Release Planning

Drag & Drop stories between releases and the app will handle all assignments in Jira for you. When you finish your story mapping session, you will have a better idea what the next release will bring and why certain stories will have priority over others when keeping the user perspective front and center in your story map.

Release Planning

We hope Story Maps for Jira - Free is helpful to you. If you want to check it out, head over to the Atlassian Marketplace and try it for yourself. And, if you wish to use other Issue Types for user story steps, connect issues with custom links issues with custom links or have multi-project swimlanes, give Advanced Story Maps for Jira a try.