How to write better user stories? — A template

Introduction

By now almost all software development teams use either Kanban or Scrum or some sort of their own version of the two. What your team uses does not really matter as long as the processes work for all team members and you are able to track your progress and productivity over time. Both approaches of managing your day to day work as a team involves writing tickets. For this, most teams use so called user stories.

What does a good user story need?

Bill Wake introduced the so called INVEST-principle for writing user stories that defines what a good user story should contain.

A template for a good user story

During my time as a developer and now as a consultant I found the following template came in quite handy. I have introduced this template in multiple teams and it got adopted quite quickly by other teams as well. In order to write consistently good user stories, I find it best to create a very low threshold for actually writing well-structured stories. Most tools, teams use, like JIRA etc. give you the possibility to create a template for different types of tickets. Use it.

Template

  • What?
  • Why? (provide as much context as possible)
  • How? (added by engineers during refinement)
  • Acceptance Criteria (<= 8)
  • Test Cases (given — when — then)
  • Example(s)
  • Additional Info (documentation / etc.)
  • Required Assets (designs / images / etc.)
  • (External/ Internal) Dependencies

Who should write user stories?

The responsibility for continuously writing tickets have one or multiple members of the team who represent the business side of the product / part of the product. This usually means that the product owner / product manager / business analyst / etc. is writing the tickets. Nonetheless, it is crucial in order to take full advantage of user stories to include engineers into the writing process.

How to work better with your user stories?

The best user story template and the best intentions do not mean much when they are not used right. Most of the time the person writing the ticket (e.g. PO/ PM/ BA/ etc.) can fill out most of the template on their own. Nonetheless, often enough they lack the in-depth technical knowledge to write a story that is estimate-able straight away. And that is totally okay.

Where to go from here? — Other resources on the topic

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store