User Stories are all about the conversation!

User Stories are all about the conversation!

A user story is a brief, simple requirement statement from the user perspective. User stories are narratives describing who is interacting with the application, how they are interacting with the application and the benefit they derive from that interaction. The classic format of a user story is:

As a <persona>, I want to <goal> so that <benefit>.

Personas are the different types of customers, users or consumers that interact with the system.  Personas represent any type of person including customers, user or consumers; or thing including other applications, system or hardware that interact with the system or specify the requirements of the software.  Personas help Agile teams make sure they are considering the needs of all of the classes of users, while also drawing boundaries. I suggest beginning the process of user story development by defining and/or reviewing a list of personas. It provides a platform for the team to define who is in scope and who is out of scope.

The goal is a simple representation for the work being done, not a detailed requirement. Ron Jefferies, noted Agile consultant, suggested the three “C’s” of User Stories.  The three C’s are attributes of a user stories:

  • Card,
  • Conversation,  and
  • Confirmation.

The conversation provides the details behind the story from the product owner and other stakeholders.

Simply put, the statement of benefit explains why the persona is pursuing the goal of the user story.  The benefit should be stated as specifically and tangibly as possible.  The product owner and team will leverage the benefit statement to prioritize the backlog of user stories.  Stories that do not have an identifiable benefit should be reviewed and refined until the benefit can be identified or jettisoned as a waste of time.

User stories are a mechanism to collect the needs of users so that a conversation can occur. Conversations are exchanges of thoughts, opinions, and feelings that take place as the stories are estimated, planned, analyzed, developed and tested.  User stories are a means to an end and not an end in their own right.