When developing a posh website or business application, prioritizing features is often challenging.

Especially for complex products and applications, where you’ve got multiple stakeholders and conflicting priorities, it is often downright impossible to create a roadmap that everyone’s proud of.

That’s why, of all the tools in our toolbox, 9/10 times we start with the straightforward ecosystem map. During this post, we’re getting to dive into what it’s, the way to use it, and why you ought to use it to guide your complex decisions .


What is an Ecosystem Map?

An ecosystem map may be a tool wont to map the varied people involved during a transaction, also because the transaction itself. As an example, say you enter a corner store and buy a bottle of milk. an easy ecosystem map of the shop might include:

  • The customer (you)
  • The shopkeeper
  • The milk delivery guy

Most maps also include the transactions involved, so during this case:

  • You buying the milk at the register from the shopkeeper
  • The shopkeeper buying the milk from the milk company

Of course, there’s tons more thereto in most businesses and for complex products. So there are a couple of more inquiries to consider:

  • What are the boundaries of our ecosystem? you’ll take the instance above out pretty far if you would like . you’ll map the whole cold chain all the way back to the farmer and therefore the cow (which may be a fascinating story, by the way, and a real modern marvel).
  • What is the difficulty we’re solving? Why does this ecosystem exist? What pains are being addressed, and for whom, at each stage?
  • Where does this ecosystem exist? Digital, real world? What devices are involved?
  • When do these transactions happen? Again, digital, in-person, online, on a third-party platform like Amazon, etc.


Why Ecosystem Maps Help Drive Efficient Investment

One of the most important problems facing digital projects isn’t so much that all of them run over budget and time — rather, it’s that all of them run over budget and time because the incorrect projects get prioritized. meaning that to be effective, they need to travel back and build a bunch of stuff which wasn’t in-scope within the first place to make the project a hit. That ‘going back’ stage takes time and money, which is what drives the project over budget.

An ecosystem map can help fix that by prioritizing your roadmap effectively at the beginning. By spending tons of your time to know what all the moving parts are, you’ll get a transparent picture of which of them need oil the most . Essentially, an ecosystem map may be a way to find friction within the system, so your projects start where they’re getting to have the most important impact and go from there.

Second, an ecosystem map is beneficial because it makes it easy to know both the large picture and therefore the minutia during a single visual tool.

Going back to our example from the St. Louis New Americans ecosystem map, each of these providers is listed as their full name and hyperlinked to their own site. Suddenly, during a single tool, you’ll get a very clear picture of who’s connected to what. thereupon information, you’ll start to form decisions.


Evolving Your Map

As with any digital project, you would like to iterate on your existing map. this may help you:

  • Reprioritize supported new information
  • Keep an eye fixed on changes that you simply make to form sure you’re still solving the foremost significant problem
  • Understand changing processes.


Final Thoughts

As our systems and processes become more complex, ecosystem maps are getting more popular. A bit like engineering teams use networks to visually represent the flow of knowledge , an ecosystem map is employed to point out the connections we all have, and help product and UX teams understand their users, their processes, their pain, and their desired outcomes intimately. By mapping it all out, you’ll start to spot trends, find the important problem areas, and solve those first.

With ecosystem maps, you’ll vastly improve your efficiency and productivity, ensuring you deliver products that have an enormous impact, directly, every single time.