User Stories - What are they and how can we effectively create them?

Software requirements is a communication problem. Those requesting a new product have to communicate with those building it. For a project to succeed neither side should dominate these communications. In case the business side dominates, it dictates functionality and dates with little concern of weather the development teams could meet the objectives. If the development teams dominate the communications, technical jargon replaces the business language, they may partially implement a feature or trade quality for additional features. We also have to acknowledge the fact that requirements from the business perspective change constantly and that due to the abstract nature of software most developers have a difficult time providing estimates.

Therefore, rather than making all decisions at the onset of a project, we spread the decision-making across the duration of the project. To do this we need a process that allows us to obtain information as early and often as possible. This is where the user stories come in.

User stories are a technique for collecting requirements and an agile approach that helps shift focus from writing about requirements to talking about them.

Although User Stories are a common agile technique for capturing simple descriptions of a product features, even seasoned teams and agile practitioners experience challenges with them.

This session will provide some important guidelines on how to create user stories, validate the quality of a user story, understand what users stories are not, how and when to add detail to a user story as well as address what type of user stories can be split and those which cannot.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

  • User Stories – What are they?
    • Definition of a user story
    • User story template (example of a user story template)
    • What user stories are not (understanding the difference between user stories and use cases, tasks and “shall” statements)
  • Creating User Stories using the 3C’s model
    • Talk about Ron Jeffries model of capturing a user story
  • Creating User Stories using the INVEST Technique
    • Talk about Bill Wake’s technique of devising good quality Product Backlog Items commonly written in user story format.
  • Adding detail to a user story
    • When should details be added to a user story
    • How much detail is enough detail
    • Common techniques for adding details to a user story
    • Problems with too much or too little detail
  • Complex and Compound User Stories
    • What are they and differences between the two types of user stories
  • Q & A (10 mins)

Learning Outcome

  • Understand what user stories are and what they are not
  • Capturing a user story using Ron Jeffries' 3C’s model
  • Creating and validating the quality of a user story using Bill Wake’s INVEST technique
  • When and how to add detail to a user story
  • How much detail is enough detail
  • Understand the difference between complex and compound user stories and the approach to deliver them

Target Audience

Agile practitioners such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches as well as developers and testers working in an agile environments

Prerequisites for Attendees

Understanding of the agile mindset and basic knowledge of agile frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, X-Programming.

schedule Submitted 3 years ago