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7 Best Story Mapping Tools for Distributed Agile Teams

Randy RayessRandy Rayess

Story Mapping is a great agile technique which helps product owners visualize the bigger picture while keeping all user story elements in perspective. It also helps stakeholders stay updated about the project progress. Thus, optimizing story maps is important, especially when you are working with distributed teams where coming together for a physical whiteboard session is impossible.

In this post, we list 7 tools which help product owners create and manage digital user stories for distributed agile teams.

1. JIRA Agile

Whether you are a seasoned agile practitioner or a newbie, JIRA Agile lets you create and estimate stories with ease. It also allows you to visualize team activity, keep a check on team’s commitment, and report team progress. It comes with a diversified feature set which lets you flexibly adopt agile practices.

2. Team Foundation Server (TFS)

Team Foundation Server (TFS) from Visual Studio helps you build and manage user stories easily by connecting, collaborating and delivering on time. It has been designed to get more out of your agile team. TFS allows product owners to participate the product development process using a one-stop solution. It has dedicated templates for Scrum, Agile and CMMI. Besides, it lets you integrate everyone into the workflow using Kanban boards, work items and feedback requests.

3. BoardThing

Creating user stories with BoardThing is as easy as placing cards on a board. You can –

Currently operating in the beta mode, BoardThing can be accessed on an invite-only basis.

4. StoriesOnBoard

Turn your flat product backlog into a user story map with this tool. StoriesOnBoard lets you slice user stories into small parts, prioritize what’s important and deliver early. It offers endless storage space, provides quick overview of daily standups, lets you add a task in the middle of an existing user story, and helps you estimate where a story fits into an upcoming sprint. It’s free and easy to use.

5. FeatureMap

A boon for product owners, FeatureMap helps you manage your product backlog by creating user stories online. Using this global board, your agile team can collaborate in real-time and share updates about their daily tasks. The shared sticky notes wall lets you visualize, prioritize and organize your backlog with better visibility. FeatureMap has a flexible structure which lets you link ideas and feature objectives, personas and client requests. This is one tool that let’s you design with the product team, share vision with the marketing team and align goals with the development team.

6. Symphonical

Symphonical is a digital board which uses sticky notes for real-time collaboration. All you need to do is drag and drop notes to manage your planning and monitor team activity. There’s a rich text editor to help you write better, an option to assign a particular note to a team member, easy upload option and a built-in calendar to set due dates.

7. Trello

Filled with lists and cards, this tool looks simple but has all the features you need for story mapping. You can post comments to give instant feedback to the team, add due dates, checklists, labels, and upload files using Google Drive, OneDrive, Box and Dropbox. It has a sturdy notification system, which notifies you via desktop notifications, mobile push notifications and email. Trello also has apps for iPhone, iPad, Android phones, tablets, watches, Kindle Fire Tablets, and Windows 8, which ensures your team stays updated even while on the move.

Taking the physical board online helps globally distributed teams participate effectively in the project. And I believe these tools do a great job.

Which tools do you use? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you are still on a lookout for the right project management tools, VenturePact’s outsourcing e-book can prove to be a great resource.

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CoFounder at VenturePact Passionate about software, marketplace startups & remote work. Previously at SilverLake Partners, Ampush and Wharton.