ILT: Writing and Managing User Stories – Simply Put!

Techniques for Expressing, Analyzing, and Managing Stakeholder Needs in User Story Format

Course Duration: 2 Days (14 PDU/CDU)

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Course Overview

User Stories Tell Developers What The Business Needs

One of the biggest challenges for any information technology (IT) project is overcoming the "IT — SME communications gap". Subject matter experts (SMEs) seldom know what IT applications could and should do for them, yet the IT team needs guidance. On the other hand, IT should not dictate what the business community can and cannot do. How can you as the one wearing the BA hat overcome this challenge?

This workshop introduces User Stories as a format for defining the business outcome of IT applications. The course covers the three components of a well-structured User Story, namely the CARD, the CONVERSATION, and the CRITERIA. It looks at each component and provides specific techniques for writing and using the User Story construct as a tool for effective communication.

User Stories focus on stakeholder’s requirements, needs, and goals for an IT solution. They avoid the trap of asking the business community to define their needs in technical terms. They capture the business community’s goals, objectives, and wants in business language. During the CONVERSATION, developers add details as needed to ensure the common understanding of each User Story as work progresses. Business driven test scenarios express CRITERIA that will confirm that the solution delivers what the SME intended. Properly used, User stories enable constant and efficient communication among all parties interested in getting to the right solution.

User Stories complement and supplement other business analysis techniques that you are using. They make your requirements elicitation effort easier and more complete without adding an extra burden of effort. As a bonus, they can also help in very early cost forecasting when it is too early to estimate. (See our 1-day companion course, Estimating Techniques for IT Projects — Simply Put!).


Target Audience

The material in this course will benefit anyone involved in , including (but not limited to):

  • Business Analysts
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Agile Product Owners
  • Project Leaders and Managers
  • Line Managers
  • Systems Analysts
  • Software Testers
  • Solution Architects
  • AND "anyone wearing the business analysis hat"

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this skill-building experience, you can:

  • Define User Stories and their relationship to other requirement types
  • Discuss the Agile approach and the Role that User Stories play
  • Describe the purpose of Work Items in a Product Backlog
  • List pertinent attributes of roles in User Story context
  • Contrast User Story elicitation techniques
  • Right-size your User Stories based on the principles of the CARD
  • Distinguish between Epics and User stories
  • Decompose User Stories to expose hidden components
  • Use best-of-breed business analysis techniques in the CONVERSATION to enhance communication between developers and Product Owners
  • Defend the need for test-driven development approaches
  • Define the purpose of test scenarios, test scripts, test cases, and test plans
  • Identify components that need to be tested for acceptance of an IT application
  • Capture the criteria for testing a well-formed user story
  • Capture relevant test scenarios as the CRITERIA for acceptance testing
  • Plan to incorporate selected techniques to improve your performance on the job

Course Outline

1 Introduction to User Stories

Levels of Business Analysis

  • Current Software Development Approaches
  • Agile Business Analysis Concepts
  • The Agile Backlog Hierarchy
  • Business Analysis in an Agile Environment
  • Exercise: Your User Stories

User Story Basics

  • Components of User Stories
  • User Stories and Work Items
  • Common User Story Structures
  • Exercise: Comparing the Structures
  • Qualities of a Good User Story
  • Properties of a Bad User Story
  • How Do You Manage User Stories?

2 The CARD: Techniques for Gathering User Stories

Who Writes User Stories

  • Who Writes User Stories
  • Roles versus Job Titles in a User Story
  • Adding Role Details
  • A Vision Statement Reveals Roles
  • Exercise: Defining Role Parameters

Getting to User Stories

  • Getting to User Stories
  • Exercise: Characteristics of a “Good” Interviewer
  • Interviewing Steps
  • Story Writing Workshops
  • Exercise: Advanced Interviewing Techniques
  • Listening Techniques
  • Hurdles to Informational Listening

Properties of Good User Stories

  • Independency
  • Exercise: Dependent Stories
  • Value and User Goals
  • User Story Value
  • Exercise: Capturing User Stories
  • User Story Sizing Parameters
  • Value Measurement-Right Sized
  • Exercise: Right-Sizing Your Group’s User Stories
  • Reducing Complexity in User Stories

3 The CONVERSATION: From User Story to Code

User Story Decomposition

  • User Stories are NOT Simple for Developers
  • The Functional Perspective
  • Exercise: Functional Decomposition
  • The Data Dimension
  • Managing Data Components
  • Exercise: Extractin Data from User Stories
  • The Problem Dimension of User Stories

Non-Functional User Stories

  • Exercise: Non-Functional in Your Environment
  • Non-Functional User Stories vs Ten Key Questions
  • Defining Data Element Accuracy
  • Precision and Currency of Data Elements
  • Non-Functional Performance Criteria Quantified
  • Evaluating Performance User Stories

Common Subjective Performance Requirements

  • Quantitative vs. Subjective Measures
  • Exercise: Performance-related Functions and Data
  • Discovering Business Rules
  • Business Rule and Constraints
  • Exercise: Subjective User Stories
  • Stamping Out Subjectivity

Grouping User Stories Reveals Issues

  • Value of Grouping User Stories
  • Potential Pitfalls in a Group of User Stories
  • Identifying Duplicated User Stories
  • Discovering Conflicts between User Stories
  • Exercise: Inconsistent User Stories
  • User Stories Decomposition Revisited

4 The CRITERIA: From User Stories to Test-Driven Development (TDD)

Introduction to Test-Driven Acceptance Testing

  • Modern Testing Concepts Defined
  • A Simple Thought Experiment
  • Exercise: Components of IT Systems
  • What Are You Testing?
  • Exercise: Testable Components
  • Testing Reality

From User Stories to Test Scenarios

  • Rules for Effective User Stories
  • Testing Scenarios from a User Story
  • Getting Test Scenarios from User Stories
  • Exercise: Initiating End-User Acceptance Testing

5 From Showtime to Go Time!

Personal Improvement Plan

  • Understanding the Learning Curve
  • Developing Your Personal Implementation Plan

Additional Information

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