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Product Backlog: Should you write everything in user story format?

I like user stories a lot. They help everyone talk the same language and results in a better product.

User story alone does not constitute product requirement. User story is supposed to be a place holder for discussion which should happen between the team, Product Owner and the customer. This discussion result in a common understanding which along with the user story content is the product requirement.


This format captures the essence of requirement without confusing the readers

User Story is only one of the many different ways in which requirements can be represented. This is not mandatory in any Agile “process”. But many have made this mandatory. I have seen many spending countless hours trying to write the requirements in user story format when they could have easily written that in simple one-line sentence in few minutes.   I have seen team members refusing to even discuss the requirement until product owner rewrote the requirement in user story format.

Once I read a Non-Functional Requirement (NFR) in user story format. I couldn’t make head or tails out of it. It was much easy to re-write that in plain simple English.

The worst head ache I got was when I saw one team “writing” their bugs in user story format. There is no harm in writing bugs in user story format but it shouldn’t be done just to meet some internal “checklist”. If this format adds value use it to write bugs but it shouldn’t add additional time or delay bug processing.

Agile doesn’t prescribe user story. If user story works for you use it but if you have a better way of describing your requirement use that instead. In most of cases I have seen team using multiple formats in product backlog to capture user requirements.

Inspect and adapt the different formats in industry and use the format(s) which suites you .


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