Effective User Stories

All projects start out to fulfil a set of requirement but the manner in which those requirements are documented or expressed has a tremendous impact on the project’s success and cost. The technique of ‘user-stories’ originated with agile processes, but is effective for all projects, agile or not.

This class provides the knowledge and tools needed to identify and write effective and accurate user stories. Participants will learn the six attributes all user stories must exhibit as well as the five additional guidelines for taking user stories from good to better. The class will also explore the use of user role modelling to write the tricky initial user stories for a project. During this hand-on course, participants put theory into action when identifying user roles and writing user stories for multiple case studies.

This course is licensed from Mike Cohn of Mountain Goat Software. Mike has 15 years of experience with planning techniques on agile projects and is the author of the most popular book on this subject: User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development. This course has been delivered to numerous professionals around the world.

You will learn

  • What User Stories are and what they are not
  • The six attributes of a good story and how to achieve them
  • A useful template for writing user stories
  • Practical techniques for gathering user stories
  • How much work to do up-front and how much to do just-in-time

Course outline

  1. It's a communication problem
  2. What User Stories are
    • Card, conversation, confirmation
    • Some examples
    • Adding detail
    • Augmenting user stories
  3. User Role modeling
    • Purpose
    • Brainstorming
    • Consolidating
    • Personas
    • Extreme characters
  4. Gathering Stories
    • Stories, themes and epics
    • Story-writing workshops
    • Eliciting through questions
  5. INVEST in good User Stories
    • Independent
    • Negotiable
    • Valuable
    • Estimatable
    • Sized appropriately
    • Testable
    • Additional guidelines
  6. Splitting User Stories
    • Reasons for splitting stories
    • Story splitting strategies
  7. Additional Guidelines
    • Tracer bullets
    • Closed stories
    • Non-functionals
    • Single-user stories
    • Contract development specs
  8. Case Studies
  9. What User Stories are not
    • Use cases
    • IEEE 830 software requirements specs
  10. Electronic tools


For Project Management Professionals, this course may lead to 7 PDUs as approved by the Project Management Institute.