What is user story, story point in agile methodology?

Ashish Kasama|June 23, 2023|4 Minute read|
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In agile methodology, a user story is a simple, concise description of a feature or functionality from the perspective of an end user. It is a tool used to capture requirements and define the scope of work in a project. User stories are written collaboratively by the development team and stakeholders, such as product owners or customers.

A user story typically follows a specific template, known as the Three C's:

  1. Card: The user story is written on an index card or a digital equivalent, serving as a physical representation of the requirement.

  2. Conversation: The user story is used as a basis for discussion and collaboration between the development team and stakeholders. This conversation helps clarify the details and expectations of the feature.

  3. Confirmation: The user story is used to define the acceptance criteria, which are measurable conditions that must be met for the story to be considered complete.

To better understand user stories, let's consider an example:

User Story: As a user, I want to be able to search for products on an e-commerce website.

Explanation:

  • As a user: This identifies the role or persona of the user who will benefit from the feature. In this case, it's any user of the e-commerce website.
  • I want to: This indicates the desired functionality or goal of the user.
  • Be able to search for products: This specifies the specific action or task the user wants to perform.

The user story is intentionally kept short and high-level, focusing on the "what" rather than the "how." It encourages conversation and collaboration between the development team and stakeholders to flesh out the details.

Now, let's move on to story points. Story points are a unit of measure used in agile development to estimate the effort or complexity of a user story. It is a relative scale that helps the team determine how long it will take to implement a feature compared to other stories.

Story points are typically assigned using a Fibonacci sequence or a similar scale (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.). The numbers represent the level of effort or complexity, with higher numbers indicating more effort. The scale is deliberately non-linear to account for the inherent uncertainty and subjectivity in estimating work.

Here's an example of assigning story points to a user story:

User Story: As a user, I want to be able to search for products on an e-commerce website.

Estimated Story Points: 3

Explanation: The development team engages in a discussion about the user story and considers various factors such as the complexity of the search functionality, any potential technical challenges, and dependencies on other features. After considering these factors, the team collectively agrees that the effort required to implement this user story is moderate and assigns it 3 story points.

Story points are not meant to be a precise measure of time. Instead, they help the team compare the relative effort between user stories. For example, if another user story is estimated to be 5 story points, it suggests that it is more complex or time-consuming than the 3-point user story.

By estimating user stories in story points, the development team can plan their work based on the available capacity and prioritize the backlog of user stories accordingly. It provides a way to manage expectations and make data-driven decisions about what can be achieved within a given timeframe.

In summary, user stories are concise descriptions of features from the user's perspective, while story points are a relative measure of effort or complexity assigned to user stories. Together, they form a valuable framework for agile teams to capture requirements, foster collaboration, and plan their work effectively.

Also, read: Understanding Storybook: A React Framework Integration

Ashish Kasama

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