10. Work with Stories (Ten Things about Agile)

Work with Stories

Sorry but I have to tell you that the times of extensive requirements documentation and management in the traditional way is over! Finished!

To be able to cope with quickly changing situations and be able to be on the market quickly, User Stories are a much better way to plan and execute Software Projects (in fact all kind of non SW Projects would profit from them as well). That big up-front requirements document don’t work should be clear by now if you were following me on my series of articles on Agile.

So what are User Stories?

We also call them a token for a conversation. A card that expresses a users need (often in the form of as a – I want to – so that) mostly including some acceptance criteria to express what is needed to fulfill a story. It is by no mean a tool to transfer information from one team to the other, but such a story card should be a tool to plan and discuss requirements.

They are great to:

  • sketch a product during a workshop (often as a Story Map)
  • bring the needs in order
  • note down dependencies, sources, hints
  • be split if required
  • maintain in an electronic system if you like. Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 21.58.00

One of the most efficient ways to plan releases is by far a User Story Map which is as the term says, a map of User Stories. Here an example:

User Story Map

Then later during development, you will often see teams bringing User Story card to a wall to plan, visualize and maintain a sprint. Here an example of such a board of some of my colleagues at Zuhlke:


If you need to be a bit more formal (as your company just moved realised that the up-front-requirements document is just a pain), you can try the so called Requirements Abstraction Model (RAM) of University Blekinge.

But in my experience, User Stories are just fine and you will be able to deliver great stuff with great people in a great way to people.


That’s the end of this series of articles on Agile. I’m currently planning another one on Agile UX where I want to focus of how to integrate User Experience into the Agile Process. Stay in touch by signing up for my newsletter at the bottom of the main page.

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