Dialog Mapping Requirements: My Thoughts on Structure Design, Part 2

In part 1 I mentioned that mind mapping is a popular approach to documenting user requirements. I am a great fan of mind maps but I have seen them result in the representation of a structural SharePoint design losing other aspects of requirements. An alternative I am finding very useful that I suggest you consider is an approach known as dialog mapping. I first heard of this in the context of ”wicked problem solving.” To support the use of dialog mapping, Open University and Verizon offer a free tool called compendium.

In requirements gathering a facilitation process can be used with the facilitator guiding and documenting or mapping the discussions occurring as part of a workshop. After installation and starting compendium you will see the following:

This has lots of useful guidance accessible by clicking on the Quick Start node seen above.

Compendium uses nodes of various types. The starting point is a map node:

I have added a map node named DavesDemo and a question node asking, “What kinds of information do we use?” Now I would encourage my workshop attendees to answer the question and as they do I would add answer nodes linking them to the question. Some answers will generate more questions as can be seen in this very simple example.

This use of a dialog map just identifies information. At some point decisions will need to be made and for this pro and con nodes can be added. Another example is in which we ask the question, “What kind of taxonomy should we use?”


Dialog mapping is a useful tool to have in your SharePoint design toolbox. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Dave Severn

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