User Stories in Agile Project Management

Empowering Project Teams to Make Good, Customer Focused Decisions

User Stories in Agile Project Management - Empowering Project Teams to Make Good, Customer Focused D

© iStockphoto

User stories bring customer needs into the heart of project management.

The ability to work swiftly, adapt to rapid change, and liaise effectively with your customers are essential elements of product development.

In a process known as Agile Project Management, development teams work in short bursts called "sprints" to deliver working releases of a product or piece of software, in close collaboration with the customer or end user.

Putting yourself "in the shoes" of your user is key to the success of agile project management, as it allows you to see what is required, and the process for achieving it, from his or her viewpoint – and an effective way of doing this is to create "user stories." Essentially, these are brief, simple descriptions of what a user wants or needs to do, told from his perspective.

In this article, we explain how user stories are created and used, and we examine their advantages and disadvantages.

What Are User Stories?

User stories originated in the late 1990s, from the agile software development methodology Extreme Programming (XP).

They give you a simple way of defining what the customer wants to achieve with a particular piece of functionality. She collaborates closely with the development team to create a user story, and they are written from her perspective, not the developers'. They help everyone understand the who, what and why of a project.

User stories empower developers and engineers to use their experience and creativity to deliver the best possible, user-focused solution to a problem, rather than constraining them to deliver a detailed design that could have been drawn up by someone with less engineering experience. This helps to get the very best from your engineers, and to give them much greater job satisfaction. It's a more democratic, respectful way of working than the traditional "command and control" approach to project management....

Access the Full Article

This article is only available in full within the Mind Tools Club.

Learn More and Join Today

Already a Club member? Log in to finish this article.


Rate this resource