Fifty Quick Ideas to Improve your User Stories
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Completed on 2015-08-17
About the Book
This book will help you write better stories, spot and fix common issues, split stories so that they are smaller but still valuable, and deal with difficult stuff like crosscutting concerns, long-term effects and non-functional requirements. Above all, this book will help you achieve the promise of agile and iterative delivery: to ensure that the right stuff gets delivered through productive discussions between delivery team members and business stakeholders.Who is this book for?
This is a book for anyone working in an iterative delivery environment, doing planning with user stories. The ideas in this book are useful both to people relatively new to user stories and those who have been working with them for years. People who work in software delivery, regardless of their role, will find plenty of tips for engaging stakeholders better and structuring iterative plans more effectively. Business stakeholders working with software teams will discover how to provide better information to their delivery groups, how to set better priorities and how to outrun the competition by achieving more with less software.Who is this book not for?
This book doesn't cover the basics of stories. We assume that readers know what Card-Conversation-Confirmation means, what INVEST is and how to apply the basic strategies for splitting user stories. This isn't the first book you should read about user stories, if those terms are unfamiliar. There are plenty of good basic books out there, so read them first and then come back. Please don't hate us because we skipped the basics, but there is only so much space in the book and other people cover the basics already well enough.What's inside?
Unsurprisingly, the book contains exactly fifty ideas. They are grouped into five major parts:
- Creating stories: This part deals with capturing information about stories before they get accepted into the delivery pipeline. You'll find ideas about what kind of information to note down on story cards and how to quickly spot potential problems.
- Planning with stories: This part contains ideas that will help you manage the big-picture view, set milestones and organise long-term work.
- Discussing stories: User stories are all about effective conversations, and this part contains ideas to improve discussions between delivery teams and business stakeholders. You'll find out how to discover hidden assumptions and how to facilitate effective conversations to ensure shared understanding.
- Splitting stories: The ideas in this part will help you deal with large and difficult stories, offering several strategies for dividing them into smaller chunks that will help you learn fast and deliver value quickly.
- Managing iterative delivery: This part contains ideas that will help you work with user stories in the short and mid term, manage capacity, prioritise and reduce scope to achieve the most with the least software.
Each part contains ideas that we've used with teams over the last five or six years to help them manage user stories better and get more value out of iterative delivery. These ideas come from many different contexts, from large investment banks working on internal IT initiatives to small web start-ups shipping consumer software.
- Tell stories, don’t write them
- Don’t worry too much about story format
- Describe a behaviour change
- Describe the system change
- Approach stories as survivable experiments
- Watch out for generic roles
- Evaluate zone of control and sphere of influence
- Put a ‘best before’ date on stories
Planning with stories
- Set deadlines for addressing major risks
- Use hierarchical backlogs
- Group stories by impact
- Create a user story map
- Change behaviours using the CREATE funnel
- Set out global concerns at the start of a milestone
- Prioritise according to stages of growth
- Prioritise using purpose alignment
- Make a stakeholder chart
- Name your milestones
- Focus milestones on a limited number of user segments
- Use low-tech for story conversations
- Imagine the demonstration
- Diverge and merge for story discussions
- Involve all roles in the discussion
- Measure alignment using feedback exercises
- Play the devil’s advocate
- Divide responsibility for defining stories
- Split business and technical discussions
- Investigate value on multiple levels
- Discuss sliding-scale measurements with QUPER
- Start with the outputs
- Forget the walking skeleton – put it on crutches
- Narrow down the customer segment
- Split by examples of usefulness
- Split by capacity
- Start with dummy, then move to dynamic
- Simplify outputs
- Split learning from earning
- Extract basic utility
- When all else fails, slice the hamburger
Managing Iterative Delivery
- Don’t push everything into stories
- Budget instead of estimate
- Avoid using numeric story sizes
- Estimate capacity based on rolling number of stories
- Estimate capacity based on analysis time
- Pick impacts instead of prioritising stories
- Never say ‘no’ – say ‘not now’
- Split UX improvements from consistency work
- Get end-users to opt in to large user interface changes
- Check outcomes with real users
- Throw stories away after they are delivered
- Bibliography and resources
- Legal Stuff
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