On a recent Sunday, I participated as a speaker in a webinar that centered around crafting user stories for students at Riphah University. I delved into the Agile Manifesto and Scrum framework, guiding students through the process of designing user stories.
It was truly gratifying to observe the students’ enthusiasm, as they not only sought knowledge for their projects but also expressed a keen interest in applying these skills to advance their career development and excel in job interviews. This proactive approach to linking their education with their future careers is indeed commendable.
A User Story is the shortest unit of work in an Agile framework, representing the ultimate goal from the perspective of the product user. It provides a casual, high-level description of a product feature, articulated through the eyes of the end-user or client.
Top 5 Benefits of User Stories:
Reinforcement of the Agile Manifesto: User stories directly align with the principles of the Agile Manifesto, emphasizing the prioritization of working software over extensive documentation. They promote collaboration among individuals and teams, and their concise nature facilitates adaptability as the implementation phase approaches.
Enhancement in Verbal Communication: User stories prioritize verbal communication over written documentation. They encourage face-to-face discussions, minimizing reliance on document handoffs.
Delay in Details: User stories advocate for deferring detailed planning until a better understanding of actual needs is gained. This prevents unnecessary detailed planning that may change during the development phase.
Reinforcement in Product Backlog Refinement: User stories provide a suitable size for planning, with a high-level focus on value. This makes it easy to prioritize and rearrange the Product Backlog during refinement.
User-Friendly: Written in business terms rather than technical language, User Stories are accessible to both users and development teams.
Simplified Sprint Process:
User stories initiate at a broad, significant level and progressively become more refined and detailed as the execution phase approaches, facilitating an easier sprint process.
Note: Effective User Stories contribute to transparency, improved collaboration, shared understanding, and aligning teams to focus on customer needs, mitigating risks such as communication, technical, financial, and business risks.
INVEST in User Story:
The acronym INVEST outlines the criteria for well-formed User Stories:
- Independent: Stories should not depend on each other.
- Negotiable: Capture the essence of requirements without specifying how to address them.
- Valuable: Provide value to the user or client.
- Estimable: Offer enough information for estimation.
- Small: Granular enough to be completed in a short time.
- Testable: Include testable acceptance criteria.
Three C’s in User Story:
- Card: Written description used for planning and evaluation.
- Conversation: Ongoing discussions to build a shared understanding.
- Confirmation: Acceptance criteria translating requirements into test measures.
The Right User Story:
User stories or Product Backlog Items should be small to maintain team focus and flexibility. Larger stories increase the risk of team members getting lost in details, creating bottlenecks, and potentially failing to deliver a quality product increment.
Top 3 Reasons to Split a User Story:
- Size: Break down large stories into manageable pieces, especially if the estimate exceeds the Sprint length.
- Dependency: Split stories with dependencies to ease evaluation and Product Backlog Refinement.
- Risk: Complex and risky stories can be refined using spikes to gain a better understanding and break them into simpler parts.
User stories are a popular method for describing backlog items in software applications. Utilizing the INVEST acronym helps remember the essential qualities of good user stories. They should be small, independent, valuable, estimable, testable, and negotiable, providing a foundation for effective communication and collaboration throughout the development process.