Your Bad User Stories Are Costing You

Tuesday, February 20, 2024 | Strategy

Surjit Bharath

Director of Hidden Foundry

Optimizely Most Valued Professional (OMVP), Subject Matter Expert (SME), CMS and Commerce certified

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It sounds alarming, right? Yet, this is a common challenge I've noticed when taking on new clients. Taking the time to educate and refine user stories has proven crucial in maximizing efficiency. But first, let's break down what a user story actually is: it's essentially a pact between you, the stakeholder, and us, the developers, outlining the specific need you want us to fulfil to deliver value. Interestingly, that description almost mirrors the structure of a user story itself.

So, why do bad stories lead to higher costs? Simply put, they're often difficult to decipher. This could be due to their vagueness, excessive detail, missing critical information, or disorganized presentation. These issues inevitably lead to miscommunication, resulting in all parties spending more time trying to clarify or comprehend the requirements.

Furthermore, once a project progresses into development, additional questions may emerge from the team. In the worst-case scenario, different team members might interpret the requirements in varying ways, causing the user stories to bounce back and forth between statuses, processes, and team members. This not only incurs financial costs but also wastes precious time.

While delving into specific solutions for these problems is beyond this post, since changes are dependent on the challenges—if you notice your projects are plagued with more bugs than usual or are consistently behind schedule, it's worthwhile to take a step back.

Conduct a retrospective to identify where things are going awry. By pinpointing and addressing these pain points, you can enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your user stories, thereby saving you time and money.

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2/5/2024 | Strategy