Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mind Mapping for Successful Software Development

It’s amazing what happens when a group of people stands around a whiteboard, grabs some markers and starts mind mapping. They think of new experiments to solve a thorny problem. They find better a design solution for a software feature. They identify important test cases that might otherwise have been missed. Mind maps do magic. 

If your software team hasn’t tried mind mapping to help plan themes, design technical implementations, build a test strategy, or write user documentation, it’s worth your time to learn how simply you can get started.

Mind Map Features, Themes, Epics

Try kicking off your next major feature or theme by mind mapping. Find a space with a big whiteboard. Gather together business experts, end users, programmers, product owners, business analysts, testers, database experts, system administrators, everyone who will be involved in delivering or using the software. If your project is geographically distributed, substitute an online whiteboard that allows real-time concurrent collaboration and a projector or huge monitor, along with good voice and video connections.

If a product owner or other stakeholder already knows what’s needed in the feature, she can prepare a whiteboard ahead of time as a starting point. This saves time and helps focus the discussion. The whiteboard can be easily changed, which allows everyone to feel free to suggest changes.

Here’s a whiteboard (below) from a theme planning discussion my team conducted. The product owner drew an extensive mind map ahead of time. He used color-coding to indicate UI features, other affected areas in the system such as documentation, and possible future features that we should keep in mind.

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