Business Goals: Building a User Story Roadmap

This is the second in a series of posts that began with “How to Capture Software Requirements Using Story Roadmaps”. The focus of this post is business goals.

Every project needs a goal or a set of goals. These are high-level descriptions of the context for the project and the business value to be delivered.

I see many projects undertaken without goals or with goals that are so vague as to be worthless. Goals do not need to be measurable but they need to be clear.

Let’s take the example of a local retail business. This is a bricks-and-mortar establishment selling retail goods through several outlets. The company decides to allow customers to order goods online.

Goal: Allow customers to order online.

Really? That’s a vague goal. What is the business value proposition? Why is the company implementing online ordering?

Goal: Allow existing customers to order online to make shopping with us more convenient.

The value proposition in this goal is customer retention. It’s about offering multiple shopping options and building relationships with customers.

Goal: Enable customers to order online to reach beyond our current local markets.

Clearly the value in this goal lies in attracting new customers. The company is looking to expand its operations and enter new markets without having to build new stores.

Goal: Enable customers to order online and pickup items in any store.

This is also a customer relationship goal. It presents a new technical challenge in that the shopping website will need to integrate with inventory information for each store.

You get the idea. Goals are broad and somewhat subjective. They establish context and begin the process of drilling down into the problem space to define exactly what the software must do.

Goals form the beginning of the user story roadmap. Diving directly into user stories without establishing goals will only cause confusion and arguments. The next post in this series will lead us further along the roadmap by discussing stakeholders and end users.

photo credit: Krissy.Venosdale via photo pin cc

[The next post in this series is available here.]

Updated: September 13, 2012 — 9:17 pm