You don’t Need User Stories to be Agile

Someone probably told you that you must have user stories to be Agile, right? But really, you don’t need user stories to be agile! I would have you consider what kinds of stakeholders and requirements you have and are trying to meet.

Is there a clear user for each piece of work you are supposed to do? If that is the case you can use user stories. User stories is one style of requirements but is not always the best style for requirements. I am not totally clear about what the scope of your project is but I am suspecting that there is not always clear a user as you have problems to formulate the user stories.

A typical user story. You don't need user stories but here you go anyway.Source: Roger Greenhalgh | Flickr | CC BY NC SA 2.0

A typical user story. You don’t need user stories but here you go anyway. Photo by Roger Greenhalgh on Flickr. Used and slightly cropped under CC BY NC SA

Scrum and other agile methods do not require or mandate that you use the user story style. That is why items in the backlog are simply called “backlog items”. Whatever style you choose for your requirements and backlog items it is important that you make sure that the backlog items have the INVEST properties. If they don’t, it will be harder to be agile. But they don’t have to be written in the “user story” style. You don’t need user stories…

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About Greger Wikstrand

Greger Wikstrand, Ph.D. M.Sc. is a TOGAF 9 certified enterprise architect with an interest in e-heatlh, m-health and all things agile as well as processes, methods and tools. Greger Wikstrand works as a consultant at Capgemini where he alternates between enterprise agile coaching, problem solving and designing large scale e-health services ...


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