Name Your User Stories

Even if you’re new to SCRUM, you almost certainly know the popular user story format, ‘As a (type of user) I want (a goal or desire) so that (some benefit is obtained)’. Some people will put the pieces of this structure in a different order so you might see something like, ‘In order to (obtain some benefit), as a (type of user) , I want (a goal or desire)’. Either style is fine.

These ways of writing user stories are popular for good reason. If written well, they can be estimated easily, set the context for further discussion, and are adaptable to change.

Captain Obvious to the rescue

But this canonical format can feel a bit wordy when all you want to do is convey which story you’re referring to in a conversation. There’s a very simple solution that’s often overlooked by some people after they’ve been shown the ‘right’ way to write them. Just add a story name to go along with the fully written version.

Let’s say your story looks like this: ‘As a payment processor, I want to record a payment received from a customer so that they receive credit for the payment’. Now if you want to talk with the team about the story, saying, “Hey, let’s talk about the ‘As a payment processor, I want to record a payment received from a customer’ story” is going to feel like quite a mouthful. But, “Let’s talk about the ‘record a payment’ story” rolls off the tongue a lot easier. This can also make backlog grooming a lot easier because looking at a pile of note cards or a list of stories with the stories fully written out can make your eyes do funny things.

Yeah, yeah, I know. This is so obvious it’s hardly worth mentioning, right? Maybe, but I’ll go out on a limb and say some people’s lives as a PO just got a lot easier.

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