Ok, so how do Product Owners actually generate great User Stories? Are you tired of reading about how to deliver business value? Is creating big, upfront Business Requirements Documents (BRDs) not working? For those folks looking to create User Stories that are actually usable, please join me on July 29th for a full day workshop on Agile User Stories.
Product Owners need to articulate the needs and desires of customers in a way that stakeholders and Development Team members alike can clearly understand what features and functionality will solve the problems or meet the desires of the customers. The Product Owner is also responsible for providing clarity to the people building the product increment on what is means to be done building the product increment.
From the Scrum Guide, November 2017:
The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog. Product Backlog management includes:
Clearly expressing Product Backlog items;
Ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions;
Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs;
Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next; and,
Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.
The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable.
As we all know, the Scrum Guide is intentionally minimally prescriptive. So, the Scrum Guide does not provide a template to fill out or specific process to follow in order to create and order Product Backlog Items. However, in an attempt to help generate conversation to informally elicit needs of customers, Kent Beck introduced User Stories. Yes, User Stories come from eXtreme Programming not Scrum. When you are generating User Stories, remember, the essence of the story can be written on a single index card. Use the card as a way to continue a conversation and flush out additional details as the User Story gets closer to the top of the Product Backlog. This avoids those big, fat and mostly unnecessary details in the BRDs. To learn how this works, join me on July 29th!