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Unlock the Hidden Patterns in Your Data with Tree Mapping

May 29, 2024

In the dynamic world of product management, effectively visualizing complex data can significantly enhance decision-making and strategic planning. Tree mapping, a robust visualization technique, offers a compelling solution for managing and understanding the multi-faceted data of a product backlog. This blog explores how Tree Mapping transforms product backlog visualization by focusing on key metrics like remaining effort and value, thereby optimizing project outcomes.

What is Tree Mapping?

Tree mapping, or treemaps, originated in the early 1990s, developed by Professor Ben Shneiderman at the University of Maryland. His work focused on finding efficient ways to visualize hierarchical data, particularly computer directories and files. The concept was to create a visual representation where each rectangle (or tile) represents a file or folder, with its area proportional to a specific attribute, such as file size. This method allowed users to quickly scan and identify large files and deeply nested directory structures, addressing the challenges of limited screen spaces and complex digital storage systems.

Applications Across Various Fields:
  1. Finance and Investment: In the financial sector, treemaps visualize stock markets. Each rectangle represents a company, sized by market capitalization and colored by price change, allowing investors to assess market conditions and stock performance quickly.
  2. Healthcare: Treemaps help visualize healthcare data, such as patient demographics, treatment outcomes, or disease prevalence across different regions. They provide an intuitive way to identify trends and anomalies in large datasets.
  3. Digital Marketing and Web Analytics: Digital marketers use treemaps to analyze website traffic sources, user behavior, and conversion data. This helps optimize marketing strategies and improve user engagement by clearly identifying high-performance areas and aspects needing improvement.
  4. Supply Chain and Logistics: Treemaps monitor inventory levels, distribution logistics, and supply chain operations, offering managers a quick overview of resources and operational status.
  5. Environmental Studies: Environmental scientists use treemaps to display ecological data, such as species distribution, habitat areas, or pollution levels, helping in effective management and conservation efforts.
The Application of Tree Mapping in Product Backlog Management:

Visualizing Remaining Effort: Managers often struggle to gauge the workload and efficiently distribute the workforce. Treemaps can represent various features in the backlog with rectangles sized according to their remaining effort. This visualization helps stakeholders quickly identify which areas require more focus or workforce, facilitating better allocation and prioritization.


Assessing Value: Overview: Prioritizing features based on their business value is crucial for maximizing returns on investment. In a tree map, the value of backlog items can be depicted through color intensity or shading, with more critical items appearing distinctly. This method ensures that high-value features are easily discernible, helping teams focus on work that greatly benefits the project and stakeholders.

Combining Multiple Data Dimensions: Overview: Beyond effort and value, tree maps can integrate multiple data dimensions like risk level, urgency, and dependencies by using additional visual cues such as border thickness or texture. Integrating multiple dimensions into a single visual framework provides a comprehensive overview of the backlog, enabling nuanced insights into how different aspects interact.


Implementing Tree Mapping for your Product Backlog
  1. Select Appropriate Tools: Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, or custom software that supports hierarchical data visualization can be used to create tree maps.
  2. Define Metrics Clearly: Before visualization, clearly define what each dimension represents (e.g., effort, value, risk) and ensure data is accurately captured and updated.
  3. Regular Updates: Integrate your project management tools with the tree map to ensure it reflects current data in real-time.
  4. Stakeholder Training: Educate stakeholders on interpreting tree maps to ensure they can make informed decisions based on the visualized data.

Tree Mapping is more than just a visualization tool; it is a strategic asset in product management's arsenal. By effectively employing tree maps, product owners and teams can gain a deeper understanding of their backlogs, prioritize more effectively, and drive products toward successful outcomes. As data plays a critical role in product management, mastering such visualization techniques is essential.

Interested in leveraging Tree Mapping for your product management needs? Join our upcoming online training on Professional Scrum Product Backlog Management Skills, where we dive deeper into such tools to enhance your product insights. Register now and transform your approach to backlog management!

Online PSPBM Skills Training | Wednesday, 12th Jun | 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM IST


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