Sunday, 24 October 2010

As a stakeholder

A common template for user stories is "As a user, I want". This forces stakeholders to make the business value of the story explicit and encourages consistency.

However, there are some stories that this doesn't make sense for, including ones that are to the business' advantage and the users' detriment. Stating all stories in terms of users' wants can result in bizarre stories that conceal who has a stake in the their completion:
As a user, I want my DVDs to not work in other regions, so that I have to buy them again if I move countries.
As much as we focus on users, we don't build commercial software for them. It just so happens that satisfying users is a necessary part of achieving our other aims - like making money.

Users are stakeholders, but they aren't the only stakeholders. If we revise the template to "As a stakeholder, I want", then we're able to state anti-user stories much more naturally:
As the sales department, I want to prevent DVDs bought in one region from being played in another, so that I can release and price DVDs in different markets independently.
Thanks to @MrsSarahJones for pointing this out to me.

1 comment:

  1. Liz Keogh points out that these kind of stories can sometimes be more elegantly expressed the other way around. Such as

    In order to release and price DVDs in different markets independently
    The sales department
    Will need to prevent DVDs bought in one region from being played in another.

    Liz refers to this as Feature Injection. Writing stories this way really puts the focus on to the business benefit. See this blog post for details: