Learn about why product decomposition is important to agile requirements, and learn about the steps that create a value-driven product hierarchy.
- Think about your home. If you could see a list of all of it's features, and analyze how much you use each function, would it help you determine what to spend money on? Do you generate a prioritized list of detailed improvement ideas and what if you mapped it to the home's features and the value they provide you? Would it be helpful for making decisions as a homeowner? Of course it would be, and it's similar to the process Agile teams use for product decomposition.
Agile teams focus on products and these products need decomposition to help the team plan and manage the improvements. A product decomposition, sometimes also called a product hierarchy or product map, is much like a functional decomposition that traditional teams use. Let's revisit our online payments example, where here you can see the product decomposition for the retail website, with further decomposition for the payments piece. This product decomposition helps the team in many ways.
First, it helps the team identify and slice user stories. The team can attach and trace user stories to each area. The visual creates a shared understanding that helps the team split stories, define increments of value, and even map defects. Second, it helps the team with planning by driving the roadmap, release plans, and iteration planning. In addition, the decomposition assists the team with alignment. It helps everyone see where the money is being spent, and analyze if the work aligns with the customer needs and organizational strategy.
Many teams use a product decomposition as an outline for how they organize user stories in their preferred Agile tool. This product map is a great resource for B.A.s and product owners to use in collaboration with one another. It's also a great visual to use with a team, when discussing the scope of a story or the goal for a release or iteration. To create a product decomposition map, it's all about the customer point of view, of the functions and features.
Notice that reading from left to right, that the detail gets more refined. You can also create this top down like an org chart. It's all about the user perspective rather than technical. The user features are chunked out level by level as the layers develop. How about we try this? As a challenge try to build out the shipping area functionality of the example decomposition. Take some time now or later to think about how to chunk out the shipping function, and draw a few boxes to show what the shipping area might look like if we expanded this visual to break that function down further.
I've created an exercise file with the potential for what it would look like to see if you're on track. Product maps help us dialogue, plan, and analyze the product and it's detailed functions and features. They help us see the product's big picture, and help us on the way to great results.
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- Agile principles from a business analyst perspective
- Developing an agile mindset
- Managing the backlog
- Business analyst techniques, including user stories and story maps
- Agile concepts