Skip to main content

User Stories: you're not Agile without them

Failure to effectively transition to Agile development is often based on a fundamental failure to understand what a User Story is.

Allow me to explain.

The most important aspect of a User Story is that it's an independently *schedulable* unit of requirement (feature). The key to achieving the "independently schedulable" characteristic of a user story is that you express it in terms of how a "user" would use it. This leads you to a unit of functionality that's implemented end-to-end (UI to backend) that a user can actually interact with.

Not surprisingly, because of the focus on how a user would think about a feature, a user stories are highly readable - and could very well be written by the users themselves. However, the other important and less obvious aspect of a User Story is the emphasis on communication with the end-user and getting confirmation on the acceptance criteria.

Describing all the requirements as User Stories for a decent sized product is rigorous, intensive work, because of their granularity. It also shifts the responsibility - for making sure that the product does what it's supposed to - into the hands of the Product Owner (a.k.a. Product Manager). In other words, a user story forces you to acknowledge that the main responsibility for most bugs lies not with the QA, not with the developers, but the process of expressing requirements (by the Product Manager) in units of work that can be independently implemented (by the Developers) and exhaustively verified by the QA team.

I strongly recommend the following two articles by Mike Cohn for more on User Stories:

1. Advantages of User Stories for Requirements

2. Advantages of the “As a user, I want” user story template

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Splitting User Stories vs. Rally's "split" feature (that has nothing to do with it!)

I recently came across a "split" feature in the popular Agile tool Rally that they recommend to handle unfinished work. Manage Unfinished Work - Split user stories http://www.rallydev.com/help/manage-unfinished-work Screenshot http://www.rallydev.com/help/sites/default/files/multimedia/Screen%20Shot%202012-03-02%20at%2011.17.11%20AM.png UPDATE: The above links don’t work anymore (apparently since CA acquired Rally). Rather than change the links (because I’m not sure if the new links correspond to the old articles I was responding to), I’m just going to share the new links: https://help.rallydev.com/manage-unfinished-work#split Below are my observations on the "Split" feature in Rally (following by a few excellent articles on Splitting User Stories): This has numerous problems: 1. Nothing to do with Splitting User Stories It has nothing to do with "Splitting a User Story" which is an advanced but fairly well-understood field in Agile, and a tool for Product Managers…

The Wise & Persistent (a.k.a. Agile) Entrepreneur

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
Bertrand Russell
The Dunning-Kruger effect explains the pervasive and perverse phenomenon where people with less competence rate their ability higher than do people who are relatively more competent.

The successful pursuit of any major goal in life requires many things including the much overrated Luck. In my mind, two qualities stand head and shoulders above everything else as absolutely essential to success:

Your ability to LearnYour Persistence
I've previously discussed how to improve your ability to learn.

Today I want to share with my fellow entrepreneurs my thoughts on persistence.

I'm sure you had enough lessons of persistence knocked into your head. And it may even be getting to a point where the word starts to lose its meaning. But the thing is, persistence will lead you to success only if you have a proportional ability to learn…

Gaand Mein Danda

If you don't know Hindi, you probably won't relate to it.

Turns out the youth culture in India is alive and well, and quite creative too.
Here's a hilarious- and a very melodious song, Gaand Mein Danda, from "Bodhi Tree", a student band from XLRI Jamshedpur.

Read along with the lyrics for total enjoyment ;)

Some of their other hits include:
- Sabka Katega
- Too Many Potatoes
- XL Ki Kudiyan

Here's some more on the topic if you're intrigued:
Sutta mil gaya
Swear word mil gaya