Made to measure

A Sample Format for a Spreadsheet-Based Product Backlog

I want to show a real easy way to put user stories in a spreadsheet-based product backlog. I wrote this after seeing someone tweet a screen capture of a product backlog I made 9 years ago and thought to myself, “Yikes, that’s out of date for how I do it today…”

As you probably know I’m a big fan of writing the product backlog in the form of user stories and of writing user stories in the form, “As a , I so that .” An example being, “As a frequent flyer, I really want to be able to connect to the internet while flying so that I can update my blog while traveling rather than having to save this as a text file and updating my blog later.” (Can you guess where I am while writing this?)

What I’ve found makes a user story in this format very easy to work with in a spreadsheet is to take the boilerplate parts and put them into column headings. So we’ll have column headings like “As a” and “I” and “so that”. The meat of each story is then clearly visible in each row. Additional columns can be added for things like a unique identifier, notes, status and such. In this example, I’ve also included a column for the theme or grouping of which the story is a part. You can see this in the screen capture below. You can click the image for a larger view.

the product backlog in Excel

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