Write a Great User Story

This is a great post from the folks at RallyDev!

What is a user story?

A user story represents a small piece of business value that a team can deliver in an iteration. While traditional requirements (like use cases) try to be as detailed as possible, a user story is defined incrementally, in three stages:

  • The brief description of the need
  • The conversations that happen during backlog grooming and iteration planning to solidify the details
  • The tests that confirm the story’s satisfactory completion

Well-formed stories will meet the criteria of Bill Wake’s INVEST acronym:

Independent We want to be able to develop in any sequence.
Negotiable Avoid too much detail; keep them flexible so the team can adjust how much of the story to implement.
Valuable Users or customers get some value from the story.
Estimatable The team must be able to use them for planning.
Small Large stories are harder to estimate and plan. By the time of iteration planning, the story should be able to be designed, coded, and tested within the iteration.
Testable Document acceptance criteria, or the definition of done for the story, which lead to test cases.

Why use user stories?

  • Keep yourself expressing business value
  • Avoid introducing detail too early that would prevent design options and inappropriately lock developers into one solution
  • Avoid the appearance of false completeness and clarity
  • Get to small enough chunks that invite negotiation and movement in the backlog
  • Leave the technical functions to the architect, developers, testers, and so on

How do I write user stories?

When getting started with stories, a template can help ensure that you don’t inadvertently start writing technical tasks:

As a <user type>, I want to <function> so that <benefit> .

Examples:

  • As a consumer, I want shopping cart functionality to easily purchase items online.
  • As an executive, I want to generate a report to understand which departments need to improve their productivity.

Try to avoid the generic role of User when writing user stories. User stories are about all of the role who interact with the system or who realize some value or benefit from the system. Not all actors are end users. For example, a role could be another system or someone who wants certain functionality in order to buy your product but will never actually use the product. It may be useful to create aggregate roles (such as consumer) and specialized roles (such as browser or frequent shopper).

In Rally, this template should be entered at the top of the Description field. This sets the tone for the details and acceptance criteria, which will be entered below.

Click to read the full story: https://help.rallydev.com/writing-great-user-story

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