1.  What is an Agile User Story and how does it capture my requirement?

When working with customers, we often get challenged on why we employ user stories rather than straight text. We predominately work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who are the key source of knowledge for a project and therefore exceptionally busy. So even the small amount of additional time required for user stories is often questioned; we hope this article will shed a little light on the benefits to a successful custom software development project.

For those unfamiliar with a user story they follow a straightforward template of:

As a [usergroup or stakeholder] I want to [function they want to accomplish] so that [reason why they want to accomplish].

An example would be:

As a car owner I want to be notified when my car needs to be serviced so that it won’t break down on me when I commute to work.

Early in my career, I was involved in a large software system project that aimed to develop a suite of software products available as a service for customers to be able to pick and choose from. It had a great team of business analysts, software engineers and project management, but no-one to represent the customer. It developed some excellent tools with robust integrations all of which ultimately went unused. The waste of such great innovation taught me to always ensure that the needs of the customer and business are intrinsic to any development project.

SCRUM Based Agile

2. Why will a user story help to address this and other needs to make your project successful?

  • The template ensures that they provide business context (ie ‘why is this function needed by the user’).
  • They create focus for the development team, boiling down concepts to atomic needs, which could be implemented anywhere in the application/system.
  • The dialog to develop them aids the understanding and recognition of what’s important to the user and the developer.
  • They scope a discrete element of work implementable in a single Agile sprint (within 1 to 4 weeks). This helps the user because they can see the development evolve, provide early feedback and ultimately get what they want.

User stories aren’t a ‘silver bullet’ that will fix all of the challenges of software and data science projects but they are a great component to help ensure success though. We’ve seen clear evidence on numerous projects that user stories unlike waterfall ‘shall’ statement requirements can get the customer and user what they need. Projects that use them evolve into the right solution and minimize the waste of applications which never get used.

Do you want to learn more about how we can make your next project a success? Contact us to get started.