What is a User Story?
An agile user story is how you define the unit of work in an agile framework. User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature told from the perspective of the person who would potentially use it, usually a user or customer of the system. The purpose of an agile user story is to articulate how a piece of work will deliver a particular value back to the customer. Note that "customers" don't have to be external end users in the traditional sense; they can also be internal customers or colleagues within your organization who depend on your team. User stories consist of a few sentences in simple language that outline the desired outcome, they can follow a simple template: As a < type of user >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >. The details or specific requirements can be added later, when the user story is created as a backlog item. Agile user stories can be viewed as the building blocks of larger agile frameworks like epics. Epics are large work items broken down into a set of stories. User stories should follow the principal of INVEST:
- “I” ndependent (of all others)
- “N” egotiable (not a specific contract for features)
- “V” aluable (or vertical)
- “E” stimable (to a good approximation)
- “S” mall (so as to fit within an iteration)
- “T” estable (in principle, even if there isn’t a test for it yet)
Why are Agile user stories important?
User stories are important as they give the team relevant context for the task and what value the tasks bring. They have the following benefits:
- Keep the focus on the user: A to-do list keeps the team focused on tasks that need to be checked off, but a collection of stories keeps the team focused on solving problems for real users.
- Enable collaboration: With the end goal defined, the team can work together to decide how best to serve the user and meet that goal.
- Drive creative solutions: Stories encourage the team to think critically and creatively about how to best work towards an end goal.
- Create momentum: With each story, the development team enjoys a small challenge and a small win, driving momentum.
How GoRetro (sprint retro) can help your team with scrum user stories?
Retrospectives are important for any team that follows scrum. They help the team come together and provide feedback on how processes can improve. One of the discussions in a retro can be analyzing an Agie user story’s execution path. The following approach can be adopted in the analysis:
- Select a user story that was successfully delivered and another which was not delivered or still has some pending story points.
- List everything that was done throughout its execution path (e.g., from inception to completion).
- List the reasons due to which the story was delivered successfully, so that they can be repeated. List the reasons due to which the story was not delivered successfully, so that they can be avoided and the team may change them.
- Discuss with the group and write down action items.
This retrospective activity pushes the team to reflect on concrete facts that happened and how they affected the outcome of a specific item.