user story

Agile Basics: An Introduction to User Story


Every product needs a title description by which an end user could understand about requirements and talking about the product. User story generally includes a written sentence or more than one sentence to describe the functionality or a series of conversation.

In software development when using a waterfall model the requirements are a set of docs of more than 200 pages which describes the objectives because the whole of the product is to be implemented at once. This makes the process tedious and time taking. But in case of Agile or Scrum, the case is not so as the requirements are broken down into smaller segments and distributed among the developers with each of the user stories has one objective for each of the developer.

What is a User Story?

A user story is a tool of short high-level definition in Agile Software development which helps a user or a customer to understand the feature of the software when he is using that software. It is basically the summary of primary development output for Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP). User Story contains information in a precise manner so that the developer could estimate the amount of effort that he has to put in the software and finish the development.

It is always advised that if a requirement has more than one goal then the story should be broken down into subparts so that the story could describe the complete functionality. A user story should also contain a feature of ship-ability i.e. when the development with the testing and acceptance is completed the code should be deployable. It makes the work much easier than that which does not contain the story.

A good user story contains these major segments i.e. role, goal, application and user story acceptance criteria. The major format that is used across the network is as below.

As a (role) I want (objective) so that (Benefit).

User story Examples: As a user, I want a secure payment gateway so that my funds could be transferred safely to a community.

OR

As an administrator, I want a central server so that I could monitor all my clients.

What is the User Story Acceptance Criteria?

This is the most important part in the user story completion and the study should be done thoroughly by the product analyst so that the customer could be satisfied with the functionality of the product.

User story acceptance criteria are the set of conditions that a particular product or software must fulfill in order to meet the requirements of a user. Different methodologies term the goal as different names like in a waterfall methodology it is called a Requirement whereas in Agile/Scrum it is called as User Story or ‘Epic’.

In fact, anyone can write the user story and it is the responsibility of the product owner that the backlog of the agile user story should exist. Usually, the individual team member writes the story for each software part.

Characteristics of a User Story

A user story should contain the following characteristics.

  • It should be comprehensive and informative enough so that the user could understand the process.
  • The story should be user-focused i.e. should impart some value to the user and focus only on the important point.
  • It should be completed in a maximum of 3 sentences.
  • A user story could contain a file attached for the reference.
  • A good user story contains story maps, sketches, mock-ups, and storyboards.
  • Each of the stories should be independent of others. In the case of a dependable user story, there can be issues in planning issues.

We have one great method of a well-informed of a user story. It needs to meet the bill Wake’s acronym – INVEST

I: Independent – There should be no dependency between one or the other story.

N: Negotiable – They should have space of discussion as there are discussions happening among different developers and the code is also changed accordingly.

V: Valuable – When the user is allowed to write the story then it is a negotiated story and now it could clearly deliver the value of stakeholder.

E: Estimable – When the story is made then the developer should estimate the properties of the story so that the workload could be distributed evenly and the task could be completed in the given time.

S: Small – Not more than 10 people should be deployed over the workload per day. IT makes the story to plan and prioritize the task evenly.

T: Testable – The story must be testable and contain the necessary information regarding the use of the product so when it is forwarded to the testing team then test development could be easily done.

What is Scrum?

Most of the development work is done by the Scrum development team as they know better what and how is to proceed with the project. It is the most widely used methodology and is a lightweight process framework.

So there is no central authority on which the decisions are dependent. There is no team leader which would tell how to proceed with the work, instead, the whole of the team takes the decisions. Every one of the individuals is important in figuring out the result.

The scrum is divided into three categories namely – Roles, Artefacts and Time box. It manages complex software and product development. It increases productivity and reduces time.

You can also do a 24 scrum where team members can decide that

  • What I have done since the last scrum meeting.
  • What I plan to do before the next.
  • Issues that are needed to resolve.

Also Read: Scrum vs Kanban: Which one is a better agile methodology for your team?

User Story Mapping

User story mapping is a tool for the development team and product managers. It is a visual exercise that makes the user experience delightful. It prioritizes work and helps teams to understand customers.

User story mapping helps teams to design an outline for a product and it’s interaction with users. With an outline, teams can evaluate the steps which should be built first and benefit user most.

User story mapping provides two options for an agile organization. These two options are either to work from lengthy documents or to build a backlog items flat list.

The mapping anchors the user stories’ concept. This concept focuses on user value. User value creates a deep understanding of how to create users love for the product.

User stories are in such a format which completes within a sprint or development iteration. The format also consists of business value. Teams are responsible for creating the desired format.

Format basically shows user’s perspective about interaction with the product. User stories are in visual mapping. Mapping shows the story about customer itinerary and breaks customer itinerary into parts. This is very helpful to design the product as per customer desire.

User Story Mapping: Benefits

Using user story mapping helps the team to improve their work for developing the products as per customer desire.

  • Complete focus on user value.
  • Work execution as per priority.
  • Well-sized and clear requirements.
  • Dependencies and risks are easy to expose.

Managing risks on projects is a process that has a number of benefits, so it is important to understand the Project Risk Management.

User Story Mapping: Functioning

User story mapping decides what medium should use for story map building. It needs physical resources just like sticky notes, whiteboard or wall. Software tools are also useful for virtual mapping creation. Teams should take care of the following steps.

  • Problem Framing

Know your product and how it solves customer problems. This is the first target to set in mapping. It teams are designing the mapping for an existing product. User story format can help to team to understand product interaction from a user perspective.

  • Audience of Product

Different audiences have different targets and ways to interact with the product. Set user personas, now start exercise which ensures that teams have an understanding of the target audience and can write stories as per their point of view.

  • Map User Activity and User Stories

You can better understand it with an example. E-commerce product users want to search for the sale item. Select category and views items. They drag them to the shopping cart. Now complete the purchase. First activity comprises the story of the map. Now break down the story into smaller part of stories.

  • Prioritize

Once the story is broken down into subparts then prioritize the stories and rank these. Most important will place over the top.

  • Know Technical Requirements, Dependencies, Gaps, and Alternatives

Mapping story will help you to clear the issues with development which you can solve later. These issues consist of dependencies, technical architecture, capabilities, missing information, and bottlenecks. Before development or design work starts, teams need to find out potential risks.

  • Planning and Releasing Sprints

When visual exercise turns into work, stories appear from top to down. Now it is easy for the team team to find out the work that will take the shortest time to get completed.

User Story vs Use Case

There is a question in most of the minds of an agile software development team that are both user story and use case the same thing or not and which one is better. No need to worry, just wait for a few minutes and you will get the answers.

Yes, there are some similarities and some differences and here we will tell you both.

Both the methodologies serve as different purposes although they define the same goal and identify users. Both are not interchangeable. User stories are result oriented and benefit of the thing the developer wants to describe whereas in use case how the system will act.

User stories are the same as use cases and each of them describes how to use the system with a goal oriented and uses the same natural language of business.

Similarities

Here are some similarities to both of the things:

  • Both are centrally focussed on a goal and are result oriented and acceptance criteria.
  • Use cases involve elements of an actor and flow of events.

Differences

Here are some basic differences to both the cases:

  • In use case, the details are much more given as compared to the user stories where only a maximum of three lines can be given.
  • Being precise user stories leave out important details and are focussed on elicit conversations where you can ask questions whenever the scrum meetings take place.
  • There are small increments which are feedback more frequently, rather than it has more details in use cases.

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Final Words 

You can turn any successful software project into a successful one by implementing the user stories in agile development. We still need the use cases as we have a lack of context and with this, you get a sense of completeness that you have covered all the things related to the scrum and the result.

So we discussed the user story examples by which we got an understanding of the user story. We also had an understanding of some of its terminologies. If you have a doubt in any part of the user story then you can leave your comments below with the required query.


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