How to Prepare for a Story Mapping Workshop?

If you want to improve collaboration and alignment within your team, a story mapping workshop not only helps in better understanding the user’s perspective but also enables teams to prioritize features and tasks effectively.

However, organizing and facilitating a story-mapping workshop can be a challenging task if you are unfamiliar with the process.

We have shown you many times and in many different ways how to do story mapping step by step. What the phases are, and how the different tasks are followed one after the other.

But how does a story mapping workshop work? In this article, we will show you how and provide instructions, tips, and best practices to ensure that the session is going to be productive, and engaging, and leads to actionable insights.

So, if you are ready to unlock the power of story mapping and take your project planning to the next level, read on!

How to prepare to conduct a user story mapping workshop?

User story mapping is a powerful technique that helps teams understand user needs, prioritize features, and create a shared understanding of the product they are building. It allows Product Owners, Product Managers, Designers, Developers, and other stakeholders to visualize the user journey and break down complex requirements into manageable pieces.

However, running a successful user story mapping workshop requires careful planning and preparation.

7 tips to help you get the most out of your story mapping session

Below we have put together the most important things you need to think about and do before you start your session to increase collaboration and promote alignment.

1. Create the list of participants in the story mapping workshop

Decide who to invite and the timeframe for the meeting. It is estimated that no more than 10-12 people can participate equally in the story mapping workshop, which may involve a lot of discussion and argumentation.

User story mapping is a collaborative activity, so it’s crucial to invite the right stakeholders to the session. Include representatives from different teams, such as Product, Design, Development, QA, Marketing, and Sales. This diversity of perspectives will lead to richer discussions and more comprehensive mapping.

If the product is for an external customer, it is worth inviting a representative from the client side to participate. The timeframe should be set so that all participants can plan and participate in the workshop for the full duration.

It is a smart choice for Agile teams to have a Scrum Master, rather than the Product Owner or the Project Sponsor, act as a facilitator during the story mapping session.

2. Define the scope and goals

Before the story mapping workshop, clearly define the scope of the story mapping workshop. Clarify whether it is an improvement of an existing software, a new module, or the start of a completely new software. Try to answer these questions: What kind of product are you going to build? What are its key and unique benefits for the users? Identify the key objectives you want to achieve and share them with the team – it is best to include them in the invitation so that everyone arrives and has a clear sense of purpose and the desired outcome.

3. Prepare the materials

Gathering documents is the first and foremost task in the pre-phase. This involves collecting relevant information and data that will be used in the story-mapping workshop. The purpose of this step is to have a solid foundation of data to work with during the mapping process.

Once the required documents are gathered, the next step is to choose the appropriate story-mapping tool. There are various story mapping tools available in the market. The selection of the story mapping tool largely depends on the nature and complexity of the project, as well as the skillset and resources available to the story mapping team.

Make sure you have the necessary materials ready before the story-mapping workshop. This includes a large whiteboard or a wall where you can stick sticky notes, sharpies or markers for writing, and plenty of sticky notes in different colors. Having an organized and visually appealing workspace will facilitate the mapping process.


You can choose a powerful digital tool instead of all this, saving a lot of time and effort. A story mapping software like StoriesOnBoard offers many comfort and possibilities that a whiteboard cannot:

  • A visual tool like this allows holding a partly or fully remote story mapping workshop
  • There is no limit to the number of participants (in terms of observers)
  • The online story map can be saved not only by a photo taken of the whiteboard
  • The online story map can be changed, modified, or completed later 
  • It can be easily transformed into a two-dimensional product backlog with assignees and releases, and then into a public roadmap to track the progress of the project.
  • Helps gather and validate insights and user feedback and turn them into actionable product ideas

4. Familiarize yourself with the users

Before the story mapping workshop, spend some time understanding your potential users. Gather user research, personas, and any other relevant information that can help you empathize with your users. This background knowledge will enable high-quality debates and allow you faster progress to create user-centric stories during the story mapping workshop.

5. Create an agenda:

To keep the session on track, create a well-defined agenda and share it with the participants beforehand.

Break down the time allotted for each phase, such as personas, goals, steps, user stories, acceptance criteria, prioritization,  creating the Minimum Viable Product (MVP-slicing), release planning, etc. allowing enough room for discussion and decision-making.

This will ensure that all topics are covered and that the team stays focused throughout the session.

6. Involve all participants

The facilitator can be anyone the team agrees on, you don’t necessarily have to do it. The point is, that the facilitator’s role is to encourage open constructive, in-depth discussions. Actively listen to everyone’s input, ask probing questions, and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute. Create an inclusive environment where ideas are welcomed and valued.

7. Document and share the outcome

After the story mapping workshop, take a picture of the whiteboard or share the user story map with the team and other stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aligned and on the same page. This documentation will serve as a flat backlog throughout the development process.

In conclusion, a well-prepared user story mapping session can be a game-changer for product development. By following these tips and tricks, you can set the stage for a productive and engaging session that leads to a shared understanding of user needs and a roadmap for building a successful product.

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Worth considering: involve a UX Designer or a Service Designer

As the importance of user experience (UX) continues to rise in the digital landscape, it has become essential for businesses to align with skilled UX and Service Designers. These professionals play a crucial role in creating intuitive, engaging, and user-friendly services and interfaces, ultimately improving customer satisfaction and driving business success as well.

One key advantage of aligning with a UX Designer or Service Designer is their ability to understand and empathize with the target audience. Through extensive research, customer interviews, and analysis, these design professionals gain valuable insights into user behavior, preferences, and pain points. This understanding allows them to develop design strategies that meet user needs effectively.

Apart from these technical benefits, aligning with designers also fosters a different mindset within the organization enhancing collaboration and communication across different teams. These designers often advocate for putting the user at the center of decision-making processes, encouraging a shift away from product-centric thinking. 

In conclusion, by prioritizing user experience and working closely with designers, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction, drive growth, and gain a competitive edge.

Sit down with them before the story mapping workshop before you involve the others in the process, and discuss the UX research results, the potential user personas, their potential journeys, and the key components of the product vision.

Create a story map outline beforehand

Usually, the story mapping workshop should take place before the design and development phases. So, once you have gathered the project requirements, you can start to organize the story mapping workshop right away. 

But wait a moment, there’s one more thing you can do to facilitate effective planning before the story mapping workshop. Creating a story map outline can be useful because you can think in advance about where the workshop work is likely to get stuck, and where the glass bottlenecks will be in the process.

For this purpose, it is particularly useful to involve an AI assistant, who can create a map sketch in moments, which can become the starting point for the workshop, including the key steps, goals, and user stories.

All you need to do is provide the main details of the project and leave the rest to the  StoriesOnBoard AI user story generator!

Whether you save the image, or in case you’d like to continue working with it for free during the two-week trial period you can try out all the features of the tool to collaborate more effectively and get more reliable results!


Story mapping is a powerful tool for boosting collaboration and alignment between teams on any project. It is important to prepare for a user story mapping workshop because it allows for a more productive and efficient session. Preparing in advance helps to clarify the goals and objectives of the workshop, resulting in a focused and organized discussion.

Additionally, preparing for the workshop allows for the identification of key stakeholders and participants, ensuring that the right people are involved.

By creating a story map outline before the workshop and involving an AI assistant, product teams can ensure that their session is organized, and efficient, and results in actionable insights.

Additionally, involving UX Designers or Service Designers will add valuable expertise to the team’s efforts by understanding user needs more deeply and helping to create intuitive services that customers will love. 

Overall, With the right preparation and resources, story mapping workshops can be a game-changer for any business.