which framework prescribes user story as the format for backlog items

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Jan 24, 2023

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Scrum is the framework that prescribes user stories as a format for the product backlog items (PBI). The product owner (PO) as the name implies owns the responsibility of handling this. He need not do it personally but can get help from the developers or scrum master to do it.

A typical PBI consists of features, requirements, functions, augmentations, and fixes that constitute the change to be made to the product in future releases.

The presence of use cases, stories, epics, time-defined study activities, or even bugs define this. In simple teams, it consists of all the things that go into the sprint backlog as items. They are the broken-down parts or items of the large deliverables or requirements artefacts of the projects.

What is a user story?

It is the smallest element of the scrum process and consists of a brief description of the need, that is used in backlog grooming and iteration planning and the test that is used to ensure that there is satisfactory completion at the end. For example - Now consider this statement "As a developer, I want to have an API so that I can query orders from the backend of the app." In this "As a" represents the role, "want to" represents action, and "so that" represents the reason. This is a complete sentence that forms a single story. Take up Scrum certification online at StarAgile institute and take your career to new heights.

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Tips to write the best stories 

·  Ask the question of what purpose the stories serve.

·  Remember that the template of the stories is only a guide.

·  Do explore other ways of writing in the PBIs

·  Naturally flowing conversation is fine if you want to make stories

·  Stories can be functional if everyone in the team has understood and is on the same page.

·  Do not force user stories by making the simple functional or features or any other requirements complex.

 Also read, the difference between product backlog and sprint backlog

What is PBI

However, the PBI's responsibility is that of the PO and he is also responsible for the refinement of the PBI's.

The PBI's that are critical and important must be smaller in size, highly detailed that can be loaded directly into the sprint backlogs at the top of the PBIs. The items that we don't work on for some time must be at the bottom of the PBI's and are larger and less detailed than others.

The larger PBI's which are in the form of epics must be broken down into smaller stories when we get to the bottom of the PBI's. It must happen in the Just-In-Time method so that it does not get too detailed in the beginning making the team wait for the user stories or the sprint backlogs. At the same time, it must not take too long time so that the team is slowed down. There must be a perfect balance when we consider the larger PBI's at the end with Just-In-Time management.

The PBI comes from the project plan and is the roadmap of what the team needs to handle. Once the team has defined it consists of the features list that is arranged based on the priority order it should be built. The backlog also is a depository or storage of all the items the team needs to share and track among themselves.

The person responsible for the refinement and maintenance of the PBI's is the PO. The PO in the beginning will create the larger epics and ask the team members and scrum master's help in breaking down the user stories. However, it is the responsibility of the PO to maintain the PBI’s and have user stories that are sprintable user stories. These sprintable user stories are then transferred to the sprint backlog with the "definition of ready" when the sprint backlog is done. Register for the CSM certification online at StarAgile and be ready to take the scrum journey in any organization.

Scrum user story and product backlog items

The PBI's are the needs of the users or stakeholders in the broken forms. The most common way to characterize the needs of the customer is to write the PBI's in the form of stories. Not all the items in the PBI's will be at the same level of detail. That is the release1 or on the top are highly prioritized items. The second release will have features that are prioritized based on the targeted product roadmap. Release 3 at the bottom will have less priority or no priority.

The PBIs consist of sequenced and prioritized items such as stories, epics, bugs, and time-boxed researched items. The PO is responsible for the backlog items. The PBIs are then transferred to the Sprint backlogs as tasks for the developers. These tasks once finished are then transferred to the work done status or the list with the definition of done (DoD). The PBI’s are loaded on the top with smaller very detailed and prioritized stories and less detailed and larger epics at the bottom. The sprint backlog consists of tasks with the DoD and is the responsibility of the team members to finish them. In software development, multiple releases happen and each release is a scrum process and is the responsibility of the scrum master. The refinement of the product backlog is the responsibility of the PO. The PO takes help from the scrum master and team members. However, the entire process from start to end is the responsibility of the scrum master. The team members, scrum master, and PO are accountable for the end-to-end scrum life cycle. The scrum life cycle consists of product backlog items, sprint backlog, and work done phases. The user story is the smallest item of the scrum life cycle developed by the PO with the help of the scrum master and the scrum team. Refinement of the PBI’s is one of the most important works in the scrum life cycle. The PO manages this and is accountable for the proper refinement of the PBI’s.

An analysis – Should Product Backlog Consist of User Stories

The user stories were popularized by Xtreme programming and scrum by blogs, trainers, and books. They are different from the plan-based approaches consisting of extensive specifications. Instead of capturing every detail of a feature in lengthy user requirements, the stories specify only the functional essence from the perspective of the user.

The product backlog can contain items other than user stories but need to satisfy three conditions. They are as follows,

·  Make the PBI's understandable to the scrum team and its stakeholders.

·  The level of detail they need must fit the product development uncertainty.

·   They must encourage ongoing communication and conversation between the scrum teams and the stakeholders.

User stories always need to be a descriptive way of functional requirements. If the stories are functional such as "Setup load balancing for the website" if this clear, simple, elementary, and most importantly understood by the team members then it is fine

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We have now explained the role of the Scrum framework. After reading this article we recommend you take up certified scrum master certification at StarAgile institute. The StarAgile institute is the training partner for Scrum Alliance Inc for imparting Scrum master certification training online.

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