User Story Mapping & Value Slicing

Create lightweight release plans by slicing value out of collections of features
Contributed by

Matt Takane

Ryan DeBeasi

Published April 20, 2017

What Is User Story Mapping & Value Slicing?

User Story Mapping is an evolution of the traditional Agile backlog, made popular by Jeff Patton in 2008. It's an effective practice for creating lightweight release plans that can drive standard Agile delivery practices. At the end of user story mapping, you should have:

  • A backlog of scope items (captured as stories or simply feature titles) the team believes can be delivered in the planning window. This means some items will be placed out of scope

  • The backlog "sliced" into ~3 iterations, such that it forms the outline of plan

  • Enough detail in the first iteration of the plan to get started with the work

Why Do User Story Mapping & Value Slicing?

  • No one likes estimating work effort, but it's an important step in many environments. User Story Mapping presents an approach to estimation that many teams find much more tolerable than practices like planning poker or t-shirt sizing

  • Many projects have a natural progression of work from beginning, middle to end. This progression is often lost in a traditional flat backlog. User Story Mapping captures this information with a lightweight mechanism to plan out more than one iteration (i.e. an Agile release plan)

  • User Story Mapping presents backlog items in the context of the overall business process so you don't lose sight of "the big picture", a common pitfall in Scrum projects

How to do User Story Mapping & Value Slicing?

Who do you need?

  • Facilitator (if the team is new to the approach)
  • Product Owner
  • User Experience Design
  • Analysts
  • Developers
  • Testers

Suggested Time

  • ~4 Hours not including breaks
  • Facilitate in small sessions @ around ~90 minutes each
  • Session can be done on different days


  • Facilitator: Easy
  • Participants: Easy

Facilitation Materials Needed

How does it fit?

  • Typically done in the Options part of the Open Practice Library

Look at User Story Mapping & Value Slicing

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the User Story Mapping & Value Slicing practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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