User Stories Should Be *Small*

Agile User Stories should be SmallUser Stories should be small.

This is what the *S* stands for in the the ‘Invest’ acronym; a way to remember and assess what makes a good User Story.

Not too small. But certainly not too big. So what is the right size for a good User Story?

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. This statement is slightly misleading. More accurately, it should read: “User Stories Should Be Small, by the time you plan to include them in a Sprint”.

Because until you come to Sprint Planning – until you’re ready to include the feature in the next iteration – User Stories can be big. In fact, they can be huge. Humongous even! It’s completely reasonable for User Stories that are further down the Product Backlog to be rather large and fuzzy.

As long as they are broken down before it’s time to work on them, that’s fine. They are still effective placeholders. So it’s okay to have a User Story further down the backlog like: “As a user, I want a new system, because the old one no longer meets my needs”.

These big User Stories are known as Epics.

Anyway, back to the point in hand. What’s a good size for User Stories when they are ready to be developed?

Let’s take my recent Example of a User Story. This could have been: “As a user, I want to register, log in and manage my details online”. But I think that’s too big to be a good User Story. Perhaps it started life like that, as an epic, further down the backlog. That would be fine. But at the time of Sprint Planning, a story like this should be broken down.

So let’s say it’s broken down into 3 stories: register, login, and manage details. The login story could potentially be broken down further, into another 3 stories, for example: login, forgotten password, remember me. In my opinion that’s a nice size. The stories are very focused. Small. But still each story is still functional and fulfils its own purpose. And they’re still fairly Independent.

Now let’s say the login story is broken down even further. For example: “As a user, I want to enter my user id”, “As a user, I want to enter my password”, “As a user I want to push the login button”, “As a user, I want a clear error message when my login fails”, etc. Then I’d say it’s gone too far. These stories are too detailed. At this level, even a small project would end up with hundreds of stories, and be very hard to manage.

In the end, there’s really no right or wrong here – you need to do what feels right for you and your team. Nevertheless, I hope my comments offer some useful guidance, even if it’s just as a starting point for your team to debate…

Kelly.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Culture, Skills, and Capabilities // How to become a more data-driven organisation

In our whitepaper “How to become a more data-driven organisation”, we wrote about the five steps that an organisation would need to take, which are: Outcomes: Defining goals and metrics to ensure clear and measurable outcomes Analytics: Implementing and sharing the analytics to improve data-driven decision making Innovation: Testing assumptions through hypothesis testing and learning Data Platform: Gaining new insights

Read More »

Data Platform // How to become a more data-driven organisation

This is the fourth article in our series on “How to become a more data-driven organisation”, and we are going to be focusing on Data Platforms. It is at this point that most people start to dive deep into the technical aspects of Data Lakes vs Data Warehouses, but we want to bring us back up a level and ask

Read More »

Innovation // How to become a more data-driven organisation

In our white paper “How to become a more data-driven organisation”, we wrote about the five steps that an organisation would need to take, which are: Outcomes: Defining goals and metrics to ensure clear and measurable outcomes Analytics: Implementing and sharing the analytics to improve data-driven decision making Innovation: Testing assumptions through hypothesis testing and learning Data Platform: Gaining new

Read More »

Search the Blog

Agile Management Made Easy!

All About Agile

By Kelly Waters

“’Agile’ is one of the biggest buzzwords of the last decade. Agile methods often come across as rather more complicated than they really are. This book is an attempt to unravel that complexity. To simplify the concepts. This book breaks the concepts into small bite-sized pieces that are easy to understand and easy to implement and delivers the message in a friendly and conversational style. Allaboutagile.com is one of the most popular blogs about agile on the web. ”

Kelly Waters

Agile 101 is available to purchase. GAME ON!

Agile 101

Emma Hopkinson-Spark

“Whilst there are lots of ways you can vary the game depending on the teams you have and the learning outcomes you want, the basic flow of the game play is common to all.”
Emma Hopkinson-Spark

Why did we make the game?

How to play the game?

London

101 Ways Limited
145 City Rd
London
EC1V 1AZ
United Kingdom

Amsterdam

101 Ways BV
Weesperstraat 61-105
1018 VN Amsterdam
Netherlands

Contact Us

If you would like to get in touch with one of the team at 101 Ways, then please fill out the form below or email us at contact-us@101ways.com.