Impact Mapping: An Important Technique for Business Analysts

Impact Mapping: An Important Technique for Business Analysts

ImpactMappingOn October 1, 2012, Gojko Adzic released a new book titled Impact Mapping: Making a Big Impact with Software Products and Projects. Based on Mr. Gojko’s other works, such as Specification by Example, I thought the book would be worthwhile read. The book is only 86 pages, but contains excellent information on a very valuable technique.  I highly recommend that every business analyst purchase a copy of this book and become familiar with this technique.

As delineated in the book, impact mapping is a strategic planning technique that helps software development teams better understand and achieve a stated business goal. This technique prevents organizations from getting lost delivering projects by clearly communicating assumptions, helping teams align their activities with overall business objectives, and making better decisions that are aligned with goal to be achieved. Impact mapping is a great way to communicate assumptions, create plans and align stakeholders for iterative software delivery. Understanding and using this technique can help business analysts deliver true value to the business.

An impact map is a visualization of scope and underlying assumptions, created collaboratively by business and technical stakeholders. It is a mind-map developed during a facilitated discussion session and to answer the following four questions:

  1. Why?
  2. Who?
  3. How?
  4. What?

Impact mapping helps reduce waste by preventing scope creep and over-engineered solutions. It provides focus for delivery by putting deliverables in the context of the impacts they are supposed to achieve. It enhances collaboration by creating a big-picture view that business sponsors and delivery teams can use for better prioritization and as a reference for more meaningful progress monitoring and reporting. Finally, it helps to ensure that the right business outcomes are achieved, or that unrealistic projects are stopped before they cost too much, by clearly communicating underlying assumptions and allowing teams to test them.

Many of the barriers to effective collaboration arise from unshared, unexamined, unproved assumptions. Each discipline has its own set of different assumptions. If these assumptions can be made explicit and examined and validated, better solutions can be delivered more rapidly. This is what impact maps do – they lay out visually the why, who, how and what of the problem they are confronting.  Discussions about the nodes of the impact maps and the assumptions that connect them can effectively engage all the disciplines in discovering innovative, efficient solutions.

I recommend this book to all fellow business analysts.  For more information, please visit www.impactmapping.org.

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