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Impact Map Template To Visualize Workflows

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A 4-Step Impact Map Template To Visualize Workflows

Use Coda’s impact map template to clearly communicate your assumptions & align team activities with business objectives to improve decision-making.
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The software industry is full of products with short-lived lifespans.
Take Twitter Fleets, for example.
Launched in early 2021, Twitter’s take on Instagram’s now-ubiquitous disappearing stories aimed to .
But, users weren’t biting, and Twitter pulled the plug.
Twitter Fleets shut down only after eight months after launch due to a lack of interest from users. Showing a tweet or a photo for 24 hours on top of the app didn’t align with what users wanted from Twitter
But Twitter is not the only one that has had these spectacular failures.
As a product manager, do you read these stories about failed features and wonder how they came to exist in the first place?
Pulling the plug on features you’ve worked so hard on is heartbreaking.
Perhaps they weren’t aligned with customer needs or went ahead to development without a clear objective.

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Impact maps help avoid misalignment between product development and business goals

How can you avoid such situations of apparent misalignment between product development and business goals?
Here’s where Agile project management tools like impact mapping can help you prevent product development failures like Twitter Fleets. It’s a valuable tool for product managers to ensure alignment between the products you develop and business goals while preventing wasted effort or scope creep.
Let’s go into how an impact map helps you achieve alignment.

What is an impact map template?

An impact map connects the dots between a project roadmap and organizational goals.
Created by Serbian software consultant , It is a visual strategic planning method used by product managers and software development teams to decide what specific features to build into a product. It carefully considers a feature’s intended goals desired business goals and explains the connections between product deliverables and stated business goals.
Impact map templates usually look like a mind map or a hierarchical diagram. Planning sessions can be done as part of cross-functional product strategy sessions involving a business team and a technical team or used during reviews at internal team meetings
A sample impact map (Source: )

What is the purpose of impact mapping?

Supports strategic planning

Many project planning techniques focus on deliverables and tasks to complete.
Take a responsibility assignment matrix (RACI), used to clarify roles and responsibilities for project tasks, for example
Screenshot on 2022-01-25 at 17-26-36.png
Source: Coda’s
However, these techniques lack a tangible connection between execution and strategic planning.
Here’s where an impact map can fill in the gaps in strategic planning.
An impact map supplements these task-focused planners with valuable context on why and how these tasks contribute to business goals. It helps map deliverables to clear business goals and justifies why these tasks are necessary.

Use an impact map when:

During your regular review sessions when you need to clarify the product and feature landscape to ensure it’s in line with business goals
You need a strong structure for existing customer insights, problem statements, and other user feedback

Streamline collaboration between project delivery and business teams

A vital part of a project manager’s role is managing input from business teams with the capacity and concerns from their project delivery teams.
Why not use an impact map template to simplify this part of your day-to-day?
Impact mapping keeps everyone on the same page during and enhances collaboration with a detailed big-picture view of the project, business goals, deliverables, and desired impact. This clear overview makes for more effective progress reporting and monitoring as both sides know the expectations on a deliverable’s priorities and timeline
Tip: Use Coda’s to run effective and engaging team meetings your team members will want to attend.

Ensure product development meets customer needs and fulfills business objectives

Before shifting into execution mode, a significant part of a product manager’s role is in deciding what problems to solve next and how to generate the most meaningful impact with your given resources.
Tip: Create your product plan and view your team’s resource allocation in just 15 minutes using
Yet, it’s tempting to jump into discussing and designing a solution before spending sufficient time on defining a concrete problem. Are you sure that the answer you’re talking about is what users ask for?
An impact map helps product managers reflect and be more mindful of their problem discovery process. Its concrete, four-step approach enables you to outline and clarify your thinking on your proposed goals.
The rigorous process of constructing an impact map exposes flawed reasoning or potential misalignments in expectations and results even before you start the product development process, saving you and your organization significant time and effort.

Help product managers and business stakeholders make prioritization decisions

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your business results come from 20% of your product lineup.
In business, it’s critical to identify the inputs and activities that drive the majority of your revenue and business results, then focus on these activities.
Prioritization becomes even more critical with limited resources, timelines, and budgets. As a product manager, the last thing you want is to come to a planning and review meeting with a vague sense of where your product is heading.
Combined with tangible input from your customers, an impact map can help you clarify the value of your product, explain your reasoning, and help your business stakeholders make better decisions.
At the same time, an impact map helps stakeholders and executive teams visualize the relationship between product development and business goals. It helps everyone involved prioritize the features that contribute most to the defined purpose, making it easier to identify and double down on your 80%

Provides a clear visualization of the product roadmap

Last but not least, an impact map makes product roadmaps visual.
Product managers and business stakeholders love our spreadsheets filled with text and neat, arranged rows.
But keeping all your information in spreadsheet form may not be the best way to communicate information-dense documents to people. Instead, consider making information more visual.
Research from psychology finds at communicating information than pure text.
A simple example: try explaining a circle using text and visuals.
Which one is easier to understand?
One of the best ways to bring visuals into your product roadmap discussions and strategic planning is through an impact map.

Five benefits of impact mapping in Agile development

1. Align team activities with overall organizational goals

If you’re collaborating with team members remotely, an impact map can help you overcome the challenges of keeping your team members aligned.
Keeping everyone on the same page can be a headache even for remote-first organizations. Asynchronous communication and lack of face-to-face contact can lead to disconnected team members. At the same time, effective collaboration and staying motivated are also for people working remotely.
Take advantage of impact mapping to keep your team aligned and motivated on clear goals, regardless of where they are in the world.
An impact map is uniquely suited to help team members understand organization objectives or explain how remote workers contribute to your team or organization’s end goal.

2. Define business objectives

Impact mapping also provides internal stakeholders with an opportunity to clarify and define business objectives.
For example, if you’re building a new product feature to reduce customer churn and improve customer lifetime value, these are some questions you’ll need to answer:
Why are you making this solution?
What value will it add? Why is this solution a good investment for the organization?
How are people going to gain from using/buying this solution?

Tip: Formulate your business objective using the or to narrow down your objectives further and keep your team on track.

3. Elevate team focus

An impact map encourages product and development teams to define the process level-by-level systematically, keeping your team focused and helping them make sense of feedback and other inputs in the proper context.
Other ways an impact map keeps your team focused:
Categorize user feedback:
Building a new feature entails listening and acting on user feedback. But making sense of an ongoing stream of information can also be overwhelming. An impact map creates a helpful framework to provide context on user feedback, making feedback more actionable while managing to overwhelm.
Meet stakeholder needs:
Impact mapping keeps business teams, internal stakeholders, and project delivery teams focused on a specific goal. It also minimizes miscommunication between each group during the product development process.

4. Improve decision making

An impact map helps product managers and Agile development teams define which features to build based on business goals.
If you have a business goal but are unsure how to map specific product deliverables and build out a product backlog to that business goal, building an impact map will help you make better decisions. Relationships between each step are also transparent, making it easier to go back to review previous decisions.

5. Reframe problems

If you or your organization is unsure about a project’s direction or objectives, tap on impact mapping to take a few steps back and understand the bigger picture.
Other scenarios where impact mapping to reframe problems might be necessary:
People on the team who don’t understand the project or the problem it’s solving
A project has gone off-course and doesn’t provide its expected value
When you’re unsure how to connect the dots between business goals and product deliverables on an idea
Using a whiteboard or other collaborative software, you could use impact mapping to visually represent your project stakeholders’ ideas, objectives, and needs. From here, guide them to set a more defined goal and action plan.

Creating your impact map: 4 key elements of an impact map

A practical impact map comprises four key steps.
Here’s how each step works.

Step 1: Goal: Why are we doing this?

Start creating your impact map by writing down the business goal you’re planning to achieve with the product feature.
Some examples of good product goals:
Get more users
Grow a part of a business
Improve product retention and engagement
Make a feature easier to support, scale or monetize

Step 2: Actor: Who will influence the outcomes of these goals?

Once you’ve defined your goal, think about the people, systems, and stakeholders involved at every stage of your product journey.
Three questions that can help you identify the actors for your impact map:
1. Who can help create or hinder the desired effect?
2. Who are our customers or users of our products and services?
3. Who will be impacted by our goal?
Note: Actors aren’t always people or internal stakeholders. They can also be:
Systems: invoicing or CRM systems
Teams: groups or departments within an organization
Organizational processes

Step 3: Impact: What impact are we trying to create?

After defining the actors, we want to look at how we want their behavior to change.
Examples of impact statements:
Increase average order value per customer
Reduce the number of returned orders in the next three months
Increase customer lifetime value per customer

Step 4: Deliverable: What can we do to create the impact we’re looking for?

Now that we have answered the first three questions, we can focus on the project scope. Here, you break down the goal and desired impact into deliverables, features, and activities. For product owners of software products, these will define your high-level epics.
Once defined, break your deliverables down into user stories.

👉 Get started with this impact map template.
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After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free impact map template for your product launches to ensure your launches are aligned with business goals.

How do you create an impact map using a template from Coda

Now that you know what to include when creating an impact map lets get down to making your impact map.

Step 1: Why are you working on this project?

On the page, you and your team can add the overall business goals in step 1. As each person adds their own goal, their avatar will show up in the Who added column.

Step 2: Who are the main actors?

In step 2 on the page, you’ll see dropdown next to “Select goal here.” Select a goal in that dropdown list (based on what you wrote in step 1) and then click the Add actor to goal button. The goal here is to add all the people who would influence the outcomes of your goals.

Step 3: How will each of the actors impact the project?

In step 3 on the page, you should add the impact your product will create for each actor (as defined in step 2). Similar to step 2, click the dropdown next to “Select actor here:” and then click on the Add impact for actor button. These impact statements will help you define step 4.

Step 4: What are you hoping to achieve?

The final step involves getting the actual deliverables to define your project scope. These deliverables are almost like the tasks and features your team will build to address each impact, actor, and business goal. To add a deliverable to an impact statement, click on the green checkmark next to each impact statement in step 3. Once you have completed all 4 steps, you’ll see your full impact map in the page.

Connect the dots between strategy and execution with impact map templates

An impact map is an invaluable tool to have as part of your project management processes. Use them in your regular planning, strategy review, and stakeholder management meetings to ensure everyone is aligned. With regular planning sessions, you can avoid misaligned expectations while keeping your team motivated.

Impact map FAQs

What is impact mapping?

Impact mapping is a strategic planning technique that connects organizational goals and specific project deliverables to achieve them. It’s a structured, four-step process, including defining business goals, identifying actors involved and their roles, and narrowing down on deliverables to drive the impact required.

When should you create an impact map?

Create an impact map when internal stakeholders or project team members are unclear on the objectives of a specific project deliverable. Use an impact map in product roadmap planning sessions involving decision-makers from the business or product development team to ensure complete alignment before the team begins working on specific deliverables.

What is the difference between an impact map and a user journey map?

An impact map is a strategic planning method that supports collaboration between business stakeholders and Agile product development teams to ensure feature alignment with business goals. Impact maps are suited for planning sessions and strategy meetings to build product roadmaps and high-level outline epics for a development team.
In contrast, a user journey map outlines the entire end-to-end journey taken by a specific customer persona when they complete the desired action (for example, signing up for a subscription or purchasing a new product). User experience and product development teams evaluate every touchpoint that the user interacts with and identify potential points of frustration that could prevent them from taking the desired action.
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