Scrum Components: User Stories

December 17, 2012

The primary method of communication used by Product Owners to convey requirements to the scrum team are User Stories, which in my opinion, are the single most important component in SCRUM.  They express desired end-user functionality, clarify and facilitate the execution of necessary steps to accomplish early and continuous delivery of value and attain customer satisfaction.  User stories are how the Product Owner (voice of the customer)  expresses himself to the SCRUM team  during the kick-off meeting adding them to the Product Backlog. The Product Owner is responsible for the creation and management of the user stories.

User stories when originally defined are goal, value or user oriented and simply stated can encompass large generalities, these ‘epics’ (which can be part of larger ‘themes’) are then decomposed into smaller stories and finally ‘Tasks’ that are completed throughout the life of the project.  I will spend more time on the decomposition of user stories along with the estimation and completion of tasks in future blogs.

There is some variety in the formats used to define user stories but they all follow the general template that answers: Who, What and Why as  shown in the following template:   As a _____ I want ____ so that ____,   i.e. As a Mortgage Broker, I want to be able to reach decision makers on a mobile device, so that I can provide them with the most updated information.

Keep in mind that as requirements change (due to economic conditions, competitive conditions, etc) and new User Stories can be added to the Product Backlog by the Product Owner.

In a co-located center, User stories are generally written out by hand and posted on wall-boards for everyone on the team to see, make decisions on -and while off-the-shelf software products allow similar functionality, in my opinion, the communal room approach is the best method for team communication during Daily Stand-Up, Sprint/Scrum or Backlog Grooming sessions.

If the user story is prioritized, decomposed and time estimated, only those tasks meeting the team ‘velocity value’ are moved into the ‘work-in-progress’ column of the Product Backlog and into the Sprint Backlog for discussion at the next Sprint Planning Meeting.


About Frank:

A credentialed IT Security Professional, Frank is a Project Manager consultant in New York City with extensive experience with Agile and Waterfall projects. He has organized and managed various global projects for the Financial Services, Pharmaceutical and Multi-Media industries providing him with valuable insight that is shared with colleagues and students alike. With over 20 years of industry experience, he has led a number of cross-functional and Agile project teams allowing him opportunities for partnering, team building and facilitating leadership that creates long-lasting relationships and enhances project success.


One Response to Scrum Components: User Stories

  1. Catherine Morgan
    December 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Nicely written. Thanks Frank.

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