What is Impact Mapping & How is it Used in Product Development | Windmill

What is Impact Mapping & How is it Used in Product Development?

Windmill Editorial Team

Impact mapping is a relatively new technique that has gained popularity recently as more businesses look for ways to improve their product planning process. 

It provides a visual representation of various stages of a product strategy and measures the impact of any changes on the business. This helps to align development teams on goals with the desired impact on their stakeholders.

What is impact mapping? 

Impact mapping is a collaborative planning tool that improves alignment between development teams and stakeholders. It helps teams uncover the areas that will have the biggest impact and help them achieve a particular goal or objective.

The impact mapping method was first developed by Gojko Adzic, a well-known agile author and strategist who wrote a book of the same name in 2012. The concept is based on outcome-driven planning, user interaction design, and traditional mind mapping.

What are the benefits? 

Impact mapping offers several benefits, including: 

  • Better alignment between leadership and development teams
  • More clarity around the product strategy, outcomes, and goals
  • Less chance of project scope creep
  • Easier to identify and avoid potential bottlenecks 
  • Better understanding of how deliverables connect to user needs
  • Improved communication and collaboration between teams 

When is impact mapping used? 

  • To create a roadmap for product development 
  • To set project or personal goals 
  • To create a product vision 
  • To define the project scope
  • To reframe a problem 

How to get started with impact mapping? 

Gojko defined impact mapping as a 4-level process and introduced the idea of answering one specific question with every stage of product development:

  • WHY
  • WHO
  • HOW
  • WHAT

1. Why are we doing this? 

The first step of impact mapping is to define the goal or objective you’re hoping to achieve in the next phase of your product’s development. 

The goal should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.)

Example: Your goal is to increase user conversion by 30% by the end of the year. 

2. Who will help us? 

You then need to determine who will help you achieve this goal — Gojko refers to these people as “actors.” Ask yourself: 

  • Who can produce the desired effect?
  • Who can prevent it?
  • Who are the consumers or users of our product?
  • Who will be impacted by it?

Example: The actors who will help you achieve your goal may include the marketing department, existing users, new users, or customer support. 

3. How will they help us? 

Now you should consider how these actors will help you achieve your goal or objective. You should consider the following: 

  • How should your actors’ behaviours change?
  • How can they help you to achieve the goal?
  • How can they prevent you from succeeding?

Example: You actors could make an impact by creating a personalised user experience, optimising layouts on critical pages, or improving user assistance. 

4. What will we do? 

Finally, you should consider: 

  • What can you do, as a team, to encourage this desired behaviour? 

Example: Introduce a live chat feature, maximise personalisation investments, or run workshops with your customer support team to align on company values, mission, and culture.

In this stage, you should write down as many actions as possible that will help you achieve the outcomes identified in stage 3. You then need to prioritise these actions based on how much value they will deliver to your company. 

Tap into the power of impact mapping!  

Impact mapping is a powerful tool that helps teams simplify complex product planning and improve their overall product strategy. You can use the impact mapping technique to prioritise new features based on your company’s goals and boost team collaboration. 

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