Impact map and how to use it when developing

what is an Impact map and how to use it when developing an app or a website 1

What is an Impact map and how to use it when developing an app or a website?

Not all digital products become successful on the market, and not all of them bring real profit to their owners. There can be several reasons for that. The interface might not be convenient, the app might operate slowly or it might not get proper advertising. This can also be caused by a less obvious reason - the problems that the product solves don’t match the business aims.

If you want a project to be successful, you should define its business aims. You can use the impact map to identify the business aims of the project and understand how to reach these aims. In this article, we’ll tell how to use impact maps when developing a digital product. This article will be interesting for startups and businessmen who want to automate an already existing business.

Ronas IT is a company that creates digital solutions for small businesses and startups. Our work approach is based on business analytics and agile-based development. We have already been on the market for 15 years and helped our clients to launch more than 400 successful projects in the fields of fintech, team management, business automation, and delivery.

What is impact mapping?

Impact mapping is a graphic strategy that helps to define business aims and ways of achieving them. The main aim of the impact map is to connect project goals with the future app’s functions. Using this tool, an analyst can define project budget and deadline, and test business hypotheses. An impact map is an answer to 4 questions: Why? Who? How? What? After answering these questions we can create a scheme.

Let’s explore what these questions mean.

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Aim - Why?

At this stage, the analyst and the client define the aim of the project. This aim should be specific and measurable - it should be expressed in numbers. This will help the development team and their client to understand when the project aim is achieved. Also, measurable aims help to test business hypotheses. Let’s explore examples of measurable and non-measurable aims.

Non-measurable aim - Increase blog traffic.

Measurable aim - Increase the number of blog subscribers by 1000.

Actors - Who?

At this stage, we should enlist all the employees and organizations that will help us achieve the business aim. They should be enlisted in the following order:

  • app users
  • service members
  • representatives of various company departments. For example, marketing, sales, or supply departments

Impact - How?

At this stage, we should define actions that the actors should make to reach the mentioned business aim. The analyst and the client define actions together. They agree on how the users will interact with the future app or a website. Then the analyst creates a list of user stories.

Deliverables - What?

At this stage, the analyst defines which features the actors will use to create mentioned impacts. After creating a list of user stories, the analyst creates the list of app features. Then the analyst discusses this list with the client and gives it to the development team to prepare an estimate.

How to create an impact map?

To create an impact map you will need a graphic tool - post-it notes or an app. You can use apps for creating mind maps such as Miro, Milanote, or SmartDraw . You will need several hours to create an impact map. The analyst and the client usually create an impact map together. The client should participate in this process. In the end, we get a project scheme that the development team can check at any development stage. The impact map can be enlarged or altered if a client’s needs change.

How to use impact maps?

You can use the impact map:

  • To create a product backlog - a list of work tasks for the development team, sorted in order of importance
  • To test business hypotheses
  • To estimate budget and deadlines

How do we use impact maps in Ronas IT?

The impact map is a standard analytical tool. When the analyst and the client create an impact map, they define a measurable aim, then they identify actors that can affect the apps’ success. Then they describe how actors can affect the product development and create a list of user stories. Using the list of user stories, the analyst defines the features of the future digital product. Then he shows the list of features to the client and they prioritize them together. After that, the list can be given to the development team. In Ronas IT, we implement impact maps at the analytics stage. We’d like to tell you the story of our client.

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Once we got a request from a car maintenance service owner in New Mexico. During the day the temperature in New Mexico rises up to 40°C, and at night it drops to -1°C. In such conditions, cars often break down, so our client`s service is in demand. But in the process of work, he faced a problem - the operators of his service are overloaded with work. Service operators had to deal with a lot of requests every day. They collected all the request data in tables in Microsoft Excel. As a result, some requests were lost. A lot of clients were unsatisfied with the service quality. So, our client decided to automate the operators’ work and reduce their workload. To help our client we did the following:

  1. During the analytical session, the analyst and the client identified two project aims and answered the question “Why?” The first aim was to reduce the payroll of operators by 30%. The second aim was to increase the net promoter score from 4 to 7. It is really important to express the aims in numbers. Thus you will understand when the business aims will be achieved and whether your business hypothesis is effective or not.
  2. Then the analyst, together with the client, identified all the actors and answered the question “Who?” Then the analyst needed several days to conduct market research and come up with a suitable software solution. Our analyst created an individual software solution for our client. He offered not to add registration service and car model menu as it was done in some other car maintenance apps. It was too inconvenient. After all, the owners of the broken car don’t have time to register and scroll a huge list of car models. So, our analyst offered to create a form, where car owners could enter their name, surname, a phone number and describe the problem they encountered in the form of a message. Also, users could attach photos and videos of the breakdown. After receiving the request, the operators could call a car owner and make an appointment with the mechanic.
  3. When the client approved this decision, the analyst defined how the actors can affect the project development and success, and answered the question “How?” Let’s explore the list of user stories that he created.
user stories 1
user stories 2
  1. Then, using the list of user stories, the analyst identified what features should be added to the app and answered the question “What?” After that, he estimated the project budget and deadlines for design and development. Finally, he showed the estimate to the client. The deadline for this project was 2.5 months. If the client is not satisfied with the budget or product deadlines, the analyst rewrites the feature list. He leaves only the functions needed to launch the first app or website version.

Has our client fulfilled his aims? The operators’ work was automated. They didn’t have to store massive Excel tables anymore. The request management became easier because the operators got a new convenient tool. So, the car service owner was able to reduce the number of operators, because a small team could cope with the work. The net promoter score raised as the service team now responded quickly to requests and customers began to receive help faster.

Setting accurate project goals helps to develop a useful and user-friendly app for clients. We created this article to tell our readers about impact mapping and explain how we use it in Ronas IT. If you want to discuss your idea with us, click here

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