What is a user story? Why can’t we create a plain and simple task list for the project team? Why do we have to keep learning new techniques?
It is but natural for a new user of an agile software to think that learning a new way of planning a project in agile is quite tiring, especially with the jargons like an epic story, user story, product backlog, iterations, the definition of done, size estimates, business value.
Let me assure you that once you write your first few user stories, you will understand the logic behind it and you will become a pro in writing them!
Use this tried and tested formula to write a good user story in Agile Scrum
Step 1 – As a <type of user/ user persona>
Step 2 – I want to <goal/ objective>
Step 3 – So that <benefit/ result/ some reason>
I have explained all the 3 steps with a few examples in this template
USER STORY WRITING TIP #1
Empathise with the user of your product/ service, understand his/her persona, likes, dislikes, needs, priorities and then write the story from the user’s point of view.
To give you an example, if you want to write a user story for creating a contact form to collect data from the business website user who is interested in purchasing your product, first try and understand who the user of this data is?
Step 1 – In the above example, the sales manager is the user, since the form that you are designing will be used by her to get the contact data of prospective buyer and use it for communication.
Step 2 –what will be her objective – it will be to gather all relevant data such as the name, last name, contact number, email, address and his requirements – about the prospective buyer from the website contact form.
Step 3 –why is she interested in collecting this information? The answer he wants this data so that she will be able to contact the prospective buyer and conclude the sale
So the user story will look like this
“As a sales manager, I want to gather website users’ data, so that I will be able to engage with them to sell my product.”
USER STORY WRITING TIP #2
Avoid writing the detailed specifications of the product/ software required in a user story.
Let the team do some brainstorming to discuss their understanding of customer needs. Encourage them to use design thinking approach to product development.
Let the team create product backlog (sub-tasks) and detailing out the technical tasks specifications.
USER STORY WRITING TIP #3
Define the acceptance criteria for each user story. Acceptance criteria are the functionality, behaviour and performance as per the requirements of the product owner or the customer.
Let the functional team members from designing, development, testing and the customers collaborate to write the acceptance tests and criteria, thus ensuring delivery of a superior product that suits the customer needs.
Keep writing good user stories, be flexible, and keep revisiting and validating user needs and adjusting the product development strategies in response to the dynamic business environment and design superior products!
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Coming up next – The Characteristics of a Good User Story
About the author
Sanjeevani Sathe, is a VP Research and Content with Whizible, a project enterprise management and project automation technology company, catering to SMEs and large companies.
Sanjeevani is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has 10+ years of work experience in research and consulting with the Boston Consulting Group,UCStrategy and Rare Enterprises private equity group owned by Mr Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.