I’ve recently been looking at combining story mapping, release goals and UML activity diagrams.
Here is an activity diagram:
The point of a release goal is to specify what value is and therefore help guide what should be built. A story map can be built to achieve the goal showing dependencies between stories and therefore basic business flow. UML can not only back this relationship up but also model out and validate a more complex business model. You can map the stories onto the UML activity diagram and use swim lanes to show the various roles.
This provides another way of looking for functional gaps and helps show a cohesive end to end process. Finally the additional benefit to this is to check the external business processes. These may not be stories in the story map and will therefore allow a big picture view of what the external organisation is doing.
Finally we can review the architectural dependencies needed to complete a slice of functionality, so that the BA who is often focused on the business process understands what has to be built before a process will truly work.
Remember you don’t need every story written, you could have placeholder Epics that are rough sized and cover larger parts of the business process so that you don’t move to big design up front.
This moves us way beyond a flat backlog!