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How to Explain the Benefits of User Stories

Easily describe the advantages of user stories over requirements

12 April 2017

Viktor Buzga
Erste Bank Hungary

Did you ever find it difficult to explain the advantages of user stories over requirements and specifications documents? Well, I did. And, as with many things, we can learn a lot from our lives outside of work.

One night a couple of years ago, we were having game night at our house. It was just after Christmas, and one of my gifts was a new board game. We wanted to try it out that night, so each of us read the rule book before starting the game. After some time playing the game, we began arguing about one of the rules. Some of us were interpreting it differently than others, and we spent a good amount of time talking about it. I am sure that anybody who's ever played a board game has experienced this.

The same conflict happens when we work with document-based requirements and specifications. Written text is really hard to interpret because of the different levels of business knowledge, the terminology used, and the multiple meanings of many words. For this reason, talking about product features could provide a better way to share information.

So the next time someone asks about why user stories are better, remind them about their struggle with board games, or just tell them this story. I have tried it many times, and it has had a positive effect on customers.

Good luck with this approach.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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