User Story Mapping

At my employer, Delta-N, we organize Scrum Round table sessions four times a year. I host these sessions together with my colleague Mark van den Berg. Our latest round table session was regarding User Story Mapping.

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Delta-N Visual Studio 2015 Launch event slidedeck

At my employer, Delta-N, we organized two events related to the launch of Visual Studio 2015 and Team Foundation Server 2015. In this first event I spoke about “Managing the backlog and reporting with PowerBI“.   The slidedeck is in Dutch and you can download it here.

I ales gave a Webinar, the webinar can be found here.

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Connecting your VSO environment to Power BI

You can connect your Visual Studio Online (VSO) environment with Power BI Online. At this moment it is not possible to connect to VSO with your Power BI Desktop client  In order to connect your VSO environment to your Power BI environment you need to go to the website, and select Sign-in (I assume you have already created an account for Power BI).

Figure 1

Sign in with the account you would like to use for Power BI.

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After login in Power Bi starts.

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When you start it for the first time, it is possible that you have sample data loaded. My advice is to delete the sample Data set, Report and Dashboard in order to keep a clean working environment. Select for all three items (Dashboards, Reports and Datasets) the menu by selecting the ” . . . “, and choose “Delete” from the menu .

Figure 18

We now have a clean Power BI environment and we can connect to the VSO environment. Select Get Data and the bottom left:

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A new window opens where you have the possibility to select different options (e.g. services, files and databases).

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Select under “ Content Pack Library”, “Services”  and select “ Get” (see screenshot below).

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When you select get a new window opens and you get an overview of services you can use to connect to, Visual Studio Online is at the bottom of this screen:

Figure 9

Select Visual Studio Online, and select “Connect”

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You must now enter the Account you would like to connect to. If you wan’t to connect to e.g. you only need to enter “delta-n”, not the entire URL (it allready assumes you will connect to

I will connect to my own demo environment instead of delta-n.

Figure 11

It is possible that you have multiple projects in the selected account. You can choose to get all data from all projects, select the “*”, or you can enter the name of one specific project. Both options are valid, you need to decide how you would like to use the Reports and Dashboard. If you wan’t to use it for one project, just read data from that specific project. If you would to report over two or more projects, read all data and filter there where needed.

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When the data is entered select Next

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When the validation is successful you must Sign in, in order to finish the authentication (which works with oAuth2)

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In the screen that opens you must accept the terms in order to Authorize Power BI to read the data from Visual Studio Online.

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When you select Accept, the data will be imported.

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When the import is finished, there will be a sample Dashboard and a sample Report available. You can use this to create your own, it gives an idea on how the reporting and dshboards work. But since it is a sample, you will need to change it to make it work for you.

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In my next blog post I will work out some examples that will explain the possibilities you have when using Power BI.

If you have any questions or remarkt, please leave a comment below.

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Business Value – additional criteria

Business Value – Extra criteria

In the previous post regarding Business Value (link) we discussed how to determine the Business Value. Besides the Business Value as described in this post, there are other factors that can influence the importance of a User Story. It will differ per customer, so you need to discuss with the company you are working for which other criteria there are.

In this case we came up with three other criteria that have influence on the priority.

  • Target audience: Which percentage of the Target audience will benefit from the realized User Story?
  • Extra Turnover: What will be the extra Turnover (in the first year) that will be generated when realizing the User Story?
  • Cost reduction: What will be the Cost reduction (in the first year) when realizing the User Story?

Other criteria

You can have a User Story that has a Business Value of 21 points and a User Story that has a Business Value of 8 points. But what if the first User Story is for 10% of the Target Audience and the second User Story is for 60% of the Target Audience? Is the second User Story then more important, despite the lower initial Business Value? And what if the second User Story will reduce the cost in the first year with $ 10,000 and the first User Story will increase the turnover in the first year with $ 100,000? Does this change the priority?

In order to make this transparent, I would recommend to give points for the other criteria, exactly as we have done for the Business Value. The values I mention in this post are an example, you need to sit down with the customer to determine the values that are relevant for your company.

Target Audience

Percentage Audience



Cost reduction



We now have the Business Value, Target Audience, Turnover and Cost reduction. With these 4 criteria we can prioritize the User Story’s. We can total the different values and come with one total amount of points. But I can imagine that one criteria will be more important than another. Each customer will have its own priority, but you will create a list like this:

Weigh factor

In this case Target Audience is the least import criteria, and Cost reduction is the most important criteria. As mentioned before, this can differ per organization and it might even differ per (half) year within one company.


With the criteria described above we can create an overview with the User Story’s, the extra criteria and the outcome based on these points. Weighted and Not Weighted.

User Stories

In this case the outcome will differ on one User Story (US2 and US3), but it can be that the difference between Weighted and Non Weighted is bigger.


Besides the Business Value I recommend to determine which other criteria are important for your organization. For each of these extra criteria you need to create a list with values and corresponding points, equal to the list created for Business Value. Once you have all criteria you can create a weighted scale, one criteria can be more important than the other criteria. When you add all points you have the priority for the User Story’s. Adding these criteria will create an even better priority list!

You can download an Excel example from my OneDrive via this link.

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Business Value

Business Value

A lot of company’s know that there is something like “Business Value”, but only a few companies actually use it. I am working for a client at this moment that is interested in determining the Business Value. They have a large backlog with a lot of User Stories and need to find a way to determine the Business Value in a way that it can be reproduced, evaluated and explained to other Stakeholders if necessary.


There are different ways to determine the Business Value. I might write a different Blog post about this in the near future. In short, you can choose to assign an exact amount, (but this is difficult, especially on User Story level), you can give it points (e.g. you have got a budget of 1.000.000 points that you need to assign to all available User Story’s and you are not allowed to use the same amount twice) or you can create a list of criteria that give Business Value.

Step 1: Take a few example User Story’s

In this case I sat down with the client and we selected 6 User Story’s from the backlog that were already selected as “Large / High Business Value”. For each User Story we discussed what the criteria were that gave it Business Value. As we did this for 6 random User Story’s we came with a selection of possible criteria. The benefit of this approach is that it are criteria that are written down by the client. You can select a list from Internet, but then there is a large chance that the list doesn’t fit the client’s specific situation.

Step 2: Write down criteria

In this case we came up with the criteria:

  • Cost reduction
  • New customers
  • Law and Regulation
  • Reinforced proposition
  • Strategy
  • Imago
  • Comply with the market standard
  • Existing customers

Step 3: Ordering Criteria

The next step is to order the criteria, so we will have the criteria that gives the highest Business Value on the first place, and the criteria that gives the lowest Business Value on the last place. We had some discussion, because everything is important. But you need to choose which criteria is most important and so on.

  • 3. Cost reduction
  • 4. New customers
  • 1. Law and Regulation
  • 8. Reinforced proposition
  • 2. Strategy
  • 7. Imago
  • 6. Comply with the market standard
  • 5. Existing customers

Step 4: Determine points

We quickly agreed that the criteria will be given points based on (Scrum) Fibernace . So the number one got 40 points and the number eight got 1 point.

Step 5: Assign Business Value to the User Story’s

The last step is assigning the Business Value to the example User Story’s and discuss the outcome. It is interesting to see if the Business Value based on the criteria marches the expected outcome. The people that are prioritizing the backlog based on “gut feeling” and “experience” are likely to have the same outcome. However, it is important to make the way you determine Business Value visible for your organization. This makes it quite easy to standardize the way of working.

Next steps

Are we done now for Business Value? No, now we are going to implement it and we need to evaluate if this is indeed the correct order. Keep in mind: Continuous Improvement is also necessary for this kind of things. We already know that we need to address some generic criteria, like the % of audience that will effectively accept the Business Value (e.g. A User Story might have a high Business Value but is only 1% of the audience will appreciate this, and we have a User Story that gives a lower Business Value and 80% of the audience will appreciate this. Which one is more important? Is Business Value only leading, or do we need to take this in account as well (just like how much cost will be reduced and how much more turnover will be generated). But the first selection is important, I will create a new blog about the next steps next month.


Hope you enjoyed reading this Blog post and if you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic with me, please let me know!

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First post

This is my first blog post. I have been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while, but was somehow reluctant to so. Until now, I will try and update this blog regularly.

Happy reading!

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