The Product Viewpoint must map the other elements of the Product Architecture to the key elements of an agile product organization. The main artefact here is the agile story map, which is the highest level structural description of the entire body of work. Feature team mapping supports the mapping of the work described in the story map to the teams needed to implement the different product features. Finally, for each team and each sprint an individual sprint backlog must be created based on the story map and the results of the feature team mappings.
It is best practice in the agile community to breakdown a larger body of work into specific work items using a hierarchical approach. Depending on the method applied, this hierarchy could include themes, epics, features, and user stories.
A story map organizes user stories in a logical way to present the big picture of the product. Story maps help ensure that user stories are well balanced, covering all important aspects of the planned solution at a similar level of detail. Story maps provide a two-dimensional graphical visualization of the Product Backlog. Many modern development support tools (such as Jira) support automatic visualization of the product backlog as a story map.
The AIoT Framework assumes the following hierarchy:
- Epic: A high-level work description, usually outlining a particular usage scenario from the perspective of one of multiple personas
- Feature: A specific feature to support an epic
- User Story: short requirements written from the perspective of an end user
Depending on the complexity of the project and the agile method chosen, this may need to be adapted, e.g. by further adding themes as a way of bundling epics.
When starting to break down the body of work, one should first agree on a set of top-level epics, and ensure that they are consistent, do not overlap, and cover everything that is needed. For each epic, a small number of features should be defined. These features should functionally be independent (see the discussion on functional decomposition). Finally, features can further be broken down into user stories. User stories are short and concise descriptions of the desired functionality told from the perspective of the user.
The example shown here is the story map for the ACME:Vac product. It has six epics, including HMI, Cleaning, Maps, Navigation/Sensing, Configuration and Status/History. Each epic is broken down into a small number of key features supporting the epic. User stories are not shown on this level. Note that this story map does not include the entire mechatronic part of the system, including chassis, motor, locomotion (climbing over obstacles, etc.), home base, etc. Also, functional safety is not included here, which would be another real-world requirement.
Feature Team Mapping
One of the main challenges in almost all product organizations is the creation of efficient mapping between the organizational structure and the product structure (the same applies to projects and solutions). The problem here is that organizations are often more structured around skills (UX, frontend, back end, testing, etc.), while product features usually require a mixture of these skills.
Consequently, the AIoT Playbook recommends an approach based on feature teams, which are assigned on demand to match the requirements of a specific feature. See Agile AIoT Organization for a more detailed discussion. Feature teams can exist for longer periods of time, spanning multiple sprints, if the complexity of the feature requires this.
In the example shown here, the user story "Change cleaning mode" (part of the cleaning mode configuration feature) is analyzed. The results of the analysis show that a number of components on the robovac, the cloud and mobile app must be created or extended to support this user story. A similar analysis must be done for all other user stories of the overarching feature before a proposal for the supporting feature team can be made. In this case, the feature team must include a domain expert, an embedded developer, a cloud developer, a mobile app developer, and an integration/test expert. To support the scrum approach, who in the feature team plays the role of product (or feature) owner, as well as the scrum master, must be agreed upon.
In preparation for each sprint, an individual sprint backlog must be created for each team, which is specific to the upcoming sprint. The sprint backlog is derived from the story map (essentially the product backlog). The sprint backlog contains only those items that are scheduled for implementation during that sprint. The sprint backlog can contain user stories to support features but also bug fixes or nonfunctional requirements.
In larger organizations with multiple feature teams, the Chief Product Owner is responsible for the overarching story map, which serves as the product backlog. He prioritizes product backlog items based on risk, business value, dependencies, size, and date needed and assigns them to the individual teams. The teams will usually refine them and create their own sprint backlogs, in alignment with the Chief Product Owner and the product/feature owners of the individual teams.
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