goal of the agile story

Goal Of The Agile Story

What is the goal of the Agile story in software development? The user story is a method of communicating needs and goals. This drives the work of the team. The typical format is “As a _____, I need or want _____ so that some outcome happens”. Defining in this manner helps paint a clear picture of the goal. You have an actor. The actor has a need or want. Then, by meeting that need or want, you achieve some outcome. Outcome being of primary importance. As enabling delivery of work, is ultimately the goal of the agile story.

User Story And Requirements

The user story is a form of requirement presentation. It is tailored to the agile process, to help achieve outcomes. Traditional requirement gathering practices would list out work to be done. The method and format done caused a lack of context. It also often failed to communicate the outcome of the work. It strictly said, go do these things. You missed out on the opportunity of understanding why you did those things. An improvement with agile processes, is showing that context around the request for work. Giving more context into why you do the work and the goals to be achieved.

Working towards goals to achieve outcomes is also an improved approach over following requirements. Goals show the endgame you want. They help illustrate a path for the team forward. Even if that path has to have details figured out by the team. The team understands the direction they are moving and where they want to go. The alternative, following more traditional requirements, doesn’t illustrate goals as well. It also doesn’t allow for the team to best create their path forward, to achieve said goals.

When To Re-Examine The Goal Of The Agile Story

The way to know when to reexamine how user stories are written is when desired outcomes are not being achieved. There is no one right way to write a user story, but it’s important to listen to new ideas and preferences and to be willing to experiment. If I had never tried a new structure, I never would have discovered BDD nor HDD. If I didn’t negotiate with my teams, the team’s morale would have been impacted as well as the products. There are opportunities for innovation all around — in the design, functionality, and infrastructure of our products, in the processes we use, as well as in the stories we write. It doesn’t mean that vast amounts of time should be spent changing how one writes user stories, especially when a team finds a good working equilibrium, but I hope this article helps when it is the right time to take a look.

Goal Of The Agile Story – Building Shared Understanding

The user story helps the team to understand the work to be done. It is a way of communicating need, and giving context to the work. The team takes it from there to build shared understanding. The shared understanding by the team is a key component of the team working the story. The team members all have valuable information to contribute. You get a better solution to the work needed, when you combine team knowledge.

Shared understanding by the team also helps the team to distribute work. Pieces of the work can be divvied out to members of the team. Shared understanding of the work allows the team to distribute work. Shared understanding of the work also helps enable swarming on work. Consolidate the team around important work to help get it done faster.

Ultimately, The Goal Of The Agile Story Is To Begin The Work

The agile user story has the ultimate goal of starting the work. It will not necessarily give the team all of the info needed to do the work. It gives the team enough info to begin the work. The team takes the story as a starting point and starts obtaining the needed info to achieve the desired outcome. Well practiced agile teams understand this process. Those teams know the best solutions come from the shared understanding of the team. When that team works towards a goal, starting from the user story. Thus a goal of the agile story is to prompt the work to begin.

Conclusion:

There are no best practices for agile user stories. Especially nothing that works universally. It varies because of differing people, technology, and products.  When writing requirements, there are numerous methodologies available. Use the agile user story as a base process, to help drive the work. You can also use it as a complement to many other methodologies. Regardless of methods and process used, the user story is a tool to help communicate.

Lastly, a goal of the agile story is to communicate. When you communicate well, you can be successful. The user story is a means of communicating information. It is a tool to be used, to achieve outcomes. Like any form of communication, the user story takes work and practice. Remember, keep the goals of your work in mind. Practice writing informative and clear agile user stories. These will help you with the goal of the agile story.


Further Reading:

Here I dive into the first 2 concepts in the Agile Manifesto. What is it they mean and what do they strive to do for the agile process. Explore the Agile Manifesto – Part 1

What are the top things an agile product owner needs to do to make the team successful. Here I dive into some top items to help the team deliver value. Agile Product Owner Basics

We can’t discuss agile without a link to this, The Agile Manifesto

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