Writing the user story is key in agile software development. A valuable framework to help write good stories is INVEST. With this, you will write clearer stories. What does it mean to INVEST in your stories? In the following, I will define each piece of INVEST. I will then list out some benefits of using this with your stories. INVEST in your stories to see improvement in delivery.
INVEST In Your Stories – What Does It Mean
Independent – The work can stand on its own. It is able to be coded, tested and implemented. Without being dependent on other work or other factors. This helps the team to keep timelines small. While still delivering progress along the way. A key idea in incremental software delivery or progress.
Negotiable – Work is flexible to the point it can be modified in scope. Allowing effort to be reduced, to align with work capacity. There comes time in agile work where the team has to make decisions. Decisions that effect work, so that work can be completed. Features are removed or moved out, in order to complete other work. This allows for priority work to continue.
Valuable – The work will deliver or prompt to gain a measurable benefit. By completing this work, you will gain something. Value is key in driving priority of the work. The work being done should be able to demonstrate value.
Estimable – The work effort can be understood. This includes all work to complete the task. Coding, testing, and implementation of the work. Allowing the team to understand the work it takes, allows them to plan for that work. Thus being able to place work into sprints, or iterations, and deliver according to a plan.
Small – Work effort is small enough. Where the time frame to deliver the work is smaller. Typically where the work could be done in a teams given sprint or iteration. Another key idea in incremental delivery or progress. Building progress in pieces. Work has to be kept smaller to achieve this.
Testable – Knowing how to tell if the work was implemented and is working. Also, to be able to tell if you are gaining what you expected from the work.
Benefits If You INVEST In Your Stories
Understand the work – The team understands the work better. By following these concepts, the work is built out with details that help work to be done. This helps the team more easily deliver the work.
Incremental progress – The progress will be able to be seen in pieces. As pieces of work are completed, they stack together. Achieving smaller goals, but also working towards larger goals. This incremental progress is a big gain when you INVEST in your stories.
Deliver on goals – INVEST in your stories to improve delivery. All aspects of INVEST help the team to be able to complete work. Then, if that work is valuable, which is part of INVEST, you are then delivering valuable work.
Efficiency in delivery – With the team able to understand the work and the team working on incremental work, efficiency is increased. Teams will start to take on incremental work, start it, finish it, and move on to the next task. The speed of this will increase as their practice on these concepts increases.
Last Thoughts – INVEST In Your Stories
If your team is having issues with story writing, this concept will help. It is a powerful framework to help shape the information presented in stories. Use it, and INVEST in your stories to see improvement.
A related topic is the vertical slice of work. Vertical Slicing Agile and Value Delivery.