By: Dennis van der Spoel
Our products and initiatives do not work in a vacuum. They have an interdependent, dynamic relationship with people, other projects, the organization and the wider community around them. Yet most planning methods either expect the world to stand still while we deliver (Waterfall) or that we give up on creating any kind of long-term big-picture view (Agile), leaving a huge communication gap between business sponsors and delivery teams. Impact maps visualize the dynamic relationship between delivery plans and the world around them, capturing the most important assumptions as well as delivery scope. They help us adapt plans effectively and react to change, while still providing a good road map for delivery teams and a big-picture view for business sponsors.
The Issues with Portfolio Management
Whether you are using a silo or a value stream approach to portfolio management, strategic alignment remains a major challenge. In the silo-oriented project portfolio management-approach, this is often due to segmentation of budgets and accountabilities. In lean-agile product/project portfolio management this is due to the focus on the short-term value of initiatives. In both cases, impact mapping offers a solution. In silo-based portfolio management, impact mapping helps to align and prioritize all initiatives across the silos. In lean-agile portfolio management, impact mapping helps to discover and communicate the longer-term business value of potential epics. If you would like to learn more about the issues with portfolio management, you might be interested in benefit mapping as well.