Agile Tip #2 – Simple User Story Titles

Tip #2:  Write short/simple titles for each user story.

In the MSF Agile 5.0 process, requirements are collected in the form of User Stories.  This technique of expressing product requirements has become extremely popular in recent years as the Agile movement has gained momentum.   Mike Cohn has a great article on the advantages of writing requirements as User Stories which I’d recommend reading.  One of the nice features of the User Story work item in MSF Agile 5.0 is the inclusion of a story template for new stories.  The template, “As a <type of user>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>”, helps express the user involved in the story, the goal the user is trying to achieve, and the value that implementing the story will provide.  See Mike Cohn’s guidance on using this template here

In beta versions of the process template, we included the story template directly in the title of the work item.  It worked, and customers loved using the template.  But feedback from the community showed that that navigating the product backlog became more difficult when story titles used this template – in short, things became too verbose.  We found that most teams preferred to use a simple name for their stories that they could recognize and remember, while still using the story template approach to describe the story in full.  To solve this problem we moved the story template into the details tab of the story work item form and left the title blank for users to enter a simple title. 

For your stories, write a simple title (just a few words) that your team will recognize and can remember… something the team can refer to in their stand-ups and daily activities.  And use the story template on the details tab to to convey the user, goal, and value of the story.  Below is an example.