Oct 12, 2023

The BA perspective: How to INVEST in a good user story?

Jatin Sharma

Jatin Sharma

The BA perspective: How to INVEST in a good user story?

The days of regimented work, where tasks were predetermined before development could begin are long gone. We now live in an agile world, where the client is of utmost importance. This has expanded the role of the business analyst (BA) from merely understanding business requirements to using critical thinking to bridge the gap between the client’s requirements and the technical team’s requirements, while taking into consideration the needs of other internal stakeholders as well.

A good user story is the best way to close this gap.

What Is a User Story?

A user story is an informal, non-technical, concise description of the user’s needs a given feature addresses in the project. User stories, which can be modified as the project progresses, help maintain a customer-centric approach to development.

A typical user story has three components:

User Persona: This identifies the user who will benefit from the implementation of the feature. It can be the client or the end user.

Feature: This describes the functionality that needs to be implemented.

Goal: This describes the benefit the user gains after implementation of the feature.

Before writing a user story, a business analyst must have a good understanding of the client’s requirementsIn any business scenario, the requirements are acquired through a structured, iterative process called requirement gathering or elicitation. The information is then written down as user stories to ensure that the solution will meet the users’ needs.

The INVEST Checklist

A good user story should contain acceptance criteria as a fail-safe mechanism. If the acceptance criteria are not met, the user story is considered incomplete and should be modified or rewritten.To avoid this kind of impasse, business analysts should follow the INVEST checklist to assess a user story’s quality:

I – Independent

A user story should not be dependent on other stories; it should be able to be worked on individually, optimizing the process and speeding up time-to-market.

N – Negotiable

Rather than a contract, a story is an invitation to collaborative negotiation. The objective is to understand the requirements as much as possible to avoid any disconnect between the customer’s expectations and the delivered product.

V – Valuable

Some people argue that the user story may not be worthy unless it reflects some value to the end user, but value can be found in the form of “non-functional” requirements. Derived value should also be considered while writing and prioritizing the user story.

E – Estimable

To prioritize a story, it must be properly estimated. Based on the estimation, developers can allocate resources and provide a desirable delivery timeline.

S – Small

A story is a small chunk of work, but the question is how small? It should be small enough to fit in one iteration.

T – Testable

A clear acceptance criterion in the initial stage of a user story moves QA up the ladder and can make for an easy transition to the ATDD process (acceptance test-driven development).

AI & User Stories

User stories must evolve to take new capabilities into account, and we have seen this happening at a breakneck pace with new innovations and a feature set that is constantly growing. A BA should be familiar with the boundaries of the proposed technology platform to create a collaborative environment to satisfy the INVEST criteria before moving on to crafting a user story.For example, generative AI technologies like ChatGPT can help create stories that are clearer and more accurate. These tools don’t undermine the value of a BA or take away their abilities to understand the business or connect the dots between client requirements and technical issues, rather, they can be used in tandem to help them complete their tasks more successfully.

The Bottom Line

A BA is required to promote a culture that relies on open boundaries and clear communication, facilitating the seamless flow of information among different verticals. At Credera, BAs cultivate a culture that encourages continuous dialogue among all stakeholders and ensures organized requirement elicitation and thorough assessments to deliver maximum value.

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