Agile User Story Overview, Design Thinking for Agile User Stories

Key principles of Agile User Story

Agile Development is one of the buzzwords for the software development industry. The exciting thing is knowing precisely what Agile Development is? Answer for this is as follows; It’s a different way of managing software development projects that empower teams to make decisions, software delivered in small iterations. Agile user story involves high priority to Customer participation from the beginning of the development cycle so that Product can be developed as per client requirement and Team goal is to deliver a product that is happy with at the end.

Agile manifesto in brief

  • Respond to change
  • Working Product
  • Great Team
  • Delight the customer

Overview on Agile User Story

User Story is the High-level definition of the requirement of project demands, that involves enough information that the developer has to give an estimate of the effort required to implement it. User Story is one of the artifacts for Scrum Project Teams Sometimes also called as a description of a feature, In Agile Development we define user story and as per the priority of feature moved to particular sprint or iteration. Sprint can be of 1 week or 2 weeks. It’s better not to make a sprint for more than two weeks.

The vision behind User Story creation is Aligning Goals & Constraints.

The three C’s of a user story

Card

User story card contains a concise description of the functionality of the particular feature.

Conversation

It happens Just in Time when Team does a discussion about the Story to get more details.

Confirmation

Test efforts that confirm a story’s completion which involves the actual definition of “Done.”

When Are Agile User Stories Written?

User stories are written throughout the project. While planning product backlog, Development team participates and describes the functionality to be added during 3 to 6 months cycle. One of the features listed in the form of a card.

The Team includes developers, Product manager, Testers, Interaction Designers. The Team writes the features instead of the customer because team betters express the features and prioritize them which can be released earlier. Mostly stories are prioritized on their value to the organization. Accordingly release is planned after every short interval of time.

If one of Story does not get fit in iteration, the best way to split into smaller stories, Team should follow Test-driven development approach, and that must be part of user story creation.

User Story – Key Takeaway/ Facts

  • User Stories are not a specific task, and they are always a short description of any independent feature of Product.
  • It doesn’t tell the developer how the feature works.
  • It not final word in the Development as agile Development says welcome change during Development.
  • User Stories doesn’t need to be independent, can be a combination of 2 or more features if it’s feasible in one sprint.
  • User Story neither have specific format nor rules for writing them
  • Also, User Story not shared with the customer some times.

User story checklist

  • It must Be as short as much as possible.
  • Should be Simple, easily understandable to the customer or end user.
  • User Story Written as per users perspective.
  • The Story must be created with agenda, i.e., What’s the reason behind a particular Story? i.e., Value benefit of Story must be cleared.
  • It must derive one of the functionalities if it’s larger break it into small parts.
  • Always follow Acceptance criteria.

Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance criteria define two things in the starting of development test cases must be written first, and while closing any of task, it should satisfy what’s definition of done demands. Acceptance criteria denote what are the conditions of satisfaction for the end user It help Team to understand what’s the value of a story and set the expectation accordingly. It varies as per project and ends user demands.

Acceptance Criteria Goals

  • First of all, Team should be clarified before starting Development on any task.
  • We must ensure Team has a common understanding of the problem as well.
  • Team members must be aware of the deadline or when Story to get completed.
  • The Team must verify a story via automated Test.

Acceptance criteria should include

  • Functional and Nonfunctional Use case
  • Best practices, Guidelines and Performance concern
  • What a particular feature intends to do
  • End to end flow
  • User story impact on other featured.
  • UI/ UX concerns must be kept in mind

Acceptance criteria should not include

It’s already conveyed that Team must have a clear understanding of what’s the definition of a done, i.e. unit/integrated tested, ready for acceptance test, deployed on the demo server, releasable.

So acceptance criteria doesn’t include the following things –

  • Non-blocker or major issues
  • The code review was done
  • Performance testing performed
  • Acceptance and functional testing done

Acceptance Testing Agile User Stories

Acceptance Test Provides essential criteria that can be used to determine if Story is fully implemented or not.

User Story facts

Writing Stories

The first step is writing the User story, first of all, we should know what the characteristics of a good user story are, As there are no hard code rules for writing a user story.

Independent

User Stories should be separate as much as possible. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to prioritize the Story and give an estimation as well. Like if a customer wants one of the feature to get implemented on high priority, but that is dependent on low priority feature, so becomes much harder.

Negotiable

Requirements can’t be drafted in the form of a user story, and User story includes a short description of functionality, which can be negotiable at the time of the conversation between the client and development team.

Estimable

It’s essential to give rough estimation at least for user story assigned If developers say it can’t be estimated than it involved the following reason –

  • Developers lack domain and technical knowledge.
  • The Story is too big.

Small

A user story must be as small as much as possible. We should break more considerable functionality into small chunks that become easy to estimate, prioritize and execute as well.

Testable

The Story must be written in such an away that successfully passing through tests. Here involves the definition of the done concept.

Gathering User story

It’s not possible to convert the requirement of the project into small stories, and Stories keeps on evolving throughout the project, So, we need a set of practices or techniques to gather user story that can be used iteratively.

Guidelines for good user story

  • Start with Goal Stories
  • Slice the Cake
  • Put Constraints on Cards
  • Write for One User
  • Don’t Number Story Cards
  • Don’t Forget the Purpose

Estimating and Planning

Estimation should be under team hands, and They have to give a rough estimate for their user story.

Planning a release set

First of all, it must be known when the customer would like to release, accordingly prioritize the user story and put them in the iteration.So, Stories are prioritized by the customer but with input from the developers.

There are many ways to prioritize in the form of first, second, third or Highest, high, medium, but the best way is to put numbers.

Planning an iteration

It’s to be done by Team, and Team discusses each Story as per feature prioritize by the customer, accordingly divide among Team and get the iteration started.

Each developer form team accept responsibility for each task There are no hard rules for particular task range can be of 3 to 5 hrs or 1 to 2 days as well, but better to spit into a checklist.

Measuring and monitoring Velocity

Estimation is mandatory to analyze the Velocity of task completion. Also, another way is to graph the stats in the form of estimated time and actual spent time

Design Thinking for an Agile User Story

Design Thinking revolves around three buzz words, i.e. What, When, How.

What is Design Thinking? It’s an approach to solving design problems by understanding User’s needs and developing insights to address those needs.

When Design Thing? Developing and deploying a solution to a problem

How design thinking? Understand, Observe, Synthesize, Ideate, prototype, Iterate

  • Understand the necessary knowledge so that the right question can be asked
  • Gain Empathy with your target user by talking and observing them
  • Synthesize means coming up with a point of view statement that will inform your prototyping
  • Ideate means based on your point of view generate many ideas as possible
  • Prototype means to make your ideas real and learn from people reaction to your prototype.
  • Iterate means revisit your assumptions.

The problem is How we can connect design thinking with Agile Development? Solution for this is User Story Mapping.

User Story Mapping

It connects as a bridge between design thinking and agile Development and generates business value. Here comes How business values getting generated, there are numerous reason for that, some of them are as follows –

  • Among Team members we create shared understanding whether its design, engineering, product management, sales, and marketing
  • Teams themselves prioritize their most important work
  • We can have Visual representation of Product work
  • Helps in generating user story
  • Assists the Team to enforce their focus back and forth between mission statement and the individual user stories, we can iteratively improve both in the process

Best Practices for combining Design Thinking and Agile User Thinking

We should Invest in user Research

Before starting anything first, it must be enforced to do research, must involve the entire Team to understand the end user. If research has already happened then start with testing some ideas. This helps Team to discover new problems that need to be solved and come out with a solution.

The problem statement must be defined clearly

Design Thinking should be part of Sprint 0, that allows Team to understand the problem statement in deep and create a robust solution.

Build a productive team culture

Delimit the team size and make a core team that includes graphics designer, scrum master, developer, QA, UX researcher. We should Create such a culture that promotes collaboration across departments that facilitates innovation, excellent ideas and a successful design solution.

Optimal Use of Design Thinking

At the first stage of project development or whenever vital feature has to be developed, we should use design thinking. The feature requires innovation.

Design Patterns

It helps in reducing design and development times, and Design pattern works as building blocks allowing teams to eliminate lower level design decisions.

Periodic Testing

Testing must be enforced either once in a week or once during the sprint. What the schedule is planned, you should test before the design gets mature and Code gets finished.


Benefits of Using User Stories in Design and Development

There are several advantages of using user stories in the design and development cycles –

  • It becomes simple and easy to understand
  • Allows the developer to implement user value
  • Allows project to be chunked into smaller pieces of features.
  • Facilitates cooperative working with clients and users.

Ready and done, What’s the big difference?

Definition of Ready

  • User Story has been defined along with acceptance criteria, and Product Owner has approved the Story.
  • The Story must include either documentation or description or use case.
  • The Story has been sized feasible as per 2 weeks plan.

Definition of Done

  • Unit test cases are written and passes when run
  • Code commenting has been done
  • Peer review, i.e., followed by best practices
  • Tested by QA or functionality of modules has been tested by automation framework
  • No Outstanding Bugs are there
  • Documentation also accomplished for module defined in user story

In a Nutshell it includes Code meets the standard, Test achieved by level of quality. Each Story meets acceptance criteria, and Documentation is completed and approved.


An Agile User Story Approach

For Product or project design, the User story is the fundamental that help us to understand the purpose behind any work. When Design Thinking and Agile methodology combines, it results in innovation, productivity, and profits. Combination of both is powerful and result oriented if followed with best practices.To know more about Agile Methodology we advise taking the following steps –


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