Delivering Solutions with Impact Mapping in Product Management

August 10, 2023
3 minutes read

Impact mapping is a graphical planning technique that helps teams in maintaining their focus on the primary objective by mapping everything back to their goal.

It helps in focusing on features that are needed in the product and even helps in ruling out features that don’t agree with the intended goal. If a certain feature doesn’t come out of an impact map technique, then it probably doesn’t need to be in the product itself.

Impact mapping begins with the intended goal and extends out from there, all identified features have a direct impact on achieving that goal and a clear logic on how to achieve that goal.

Impact Mapping was introduced by Gojko Adzic in 2012 in his book Impact Mapping. Gojko Adzic invented this method to align teams to business objectives, test mutual understanding of goals and expected outcomes with stakeholders, and focus teams toward the highest value features to deliver and enable collaborative decision-making.

Impact mapping is a collaborative technique to find what to build with four crucial questions in consideration.

1. Why (Goals)?

This is the business objective you are trying to achieve. Goal This is the reason behind all your activities. Having a right and realistic goal is very important. Keep your goals SMART — Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely.

2. Who (Actors)?

The Actors are the personas who influence the outcome. These can be the different types of people using your product, or different actors who might support or prevent your goal from being achieved.

3. How (Impacts)?

Impacts are the actions you want the Actors to take, concerning your business goal. This is where you link each actor to your business goal.

4. What (Deliverables)?

This step states, What can your product do to support each actor to achieve their goal and create the desired impact for your business? This is where you note the features, activities, or deliverables.

Impact Mapping is a graphical planning technique to decide which features to incorporate into a product. It helps in explaining why some features are prioritized over others.

The only focus here is goal attainment and therefore there is very less or no chance of disagreement. Impact mapping plays a very important role in outcome-oriented product management.

Three Crucial uses of Impact Mapping:

  • Helps the team to focus on delivery by setting deliverables in the context of impacts they are supposed to achieve. Makes the process more outcome-oriented.
  • Restricts an initiative to the least essentials by prioritizing impacts and deliverables. Clearly states the tasks to be prioritized over others.
  • Enhances collaboration of all the team members, irrespective of the nature of their responsibility, by stating a shared picture and understanding between technical and business people.

Impact Mapping is the helpful bridge that connects both progress toward business goals and individual feature ideas.

Creating the Impact map together with all the stakeholders and the team is very crucial for the product’s success. Everyone involved in the team should be aware of the goals and objectives and how to achieve them. And In case a new requirement arises, the plan can be easily adjusted.

Impact maps help teams and stakeholders visualize and analyze roadmaps, shows how deliverables connect to user needs, and explain how user outcomes relate to higher-level organizational goals.