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Re: [agile-usability] Do you do Story Cards?

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  • Daniel Naumann
    As someone who is new(ish) to Agile, the thing I love the most is the story cards on the wall. We use story cards in pretty much the way William describes. I
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 25, 2008
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      As someone who is new(ish) to Agile, the thing I love the most is the story cards on the wall.  We use story cards in pretty much the way William describes.

      I can walk up to the wall, see what stories are coming up next, what's being worked on now and who is working on it.  That might not sound like a lot, but it's unbelievably valuable knowledge.  I found that knowledge took some digging to find when it was only stored online (and usually only a few people had access to it so that not too many people where changing it).

      Having them written on cards makes them easily portable - take them along to the kick-off meeting to discuss them, add post-it notes with comments if needed, stick them back up on the wall for all to see.

      Cheers,
      Dan.

      On 25/03/2008, William Pietri <william@...> wrote:

      Carey Caulfield wrote:

      Hello All

      So, anyone else doing "Story Cards"?

      Do they work for you in working/communicating more efficiently with developers?


      Most of my clients with collocated teams use them and love them. Sounds like you're making the transition from a more document-oriented process, so I should point out that the way most folks I know use them, they do not specify the story in much detail, and in fact should not.

      In my view, the cards are tokens that represent conversations. The more information that is on the card, the less likely people are to actually have the conversation, so I generally suggest 3x5 or 4x6 cards with a medium-point marker. Five or ten words is usually enough. If during the discussion there is something that you are afraid the group will forget, a penciled note is fine. The most common thing I see is acceptance criteria.

      I know some people like printed cards but I discourage them, as people are much less likely to change a card by hand or create them on the fly. Product planning should be a lightweight activity with broad participation. The more elaborate your artifacts, the more inertia you introduce into the process. That inertia limits agility.

      William



    • Desilets, Alain
      ... people are much less likely to change a card by hand or create them on the fly. ... participation. The more elaborate your artifacts, the more inertia you
      Message 2 of 9 , Mar 25, 2008
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        Do you do Story Cards?

        William Petri wrote:

         

        >  I know some people like printed cards but I

        discourage them, as people are much less likely to change a card by hand or create them on the fly.

        >  Product planning should be a lightweight activity

        with broad participation. The more elaborate your artifacts, the more inertia you introduce

        >  into the process. That inertia limits agility.

        style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";color:#1F497D'>

         

        Of course, for distributed teams, hard copies don’t work. For those, I find myself using CardMeeting a lot:

         

        www.cardmeeting.com

         

        Writing a cardmeeting card is not as quick and spontaneous as writing on an actual cardboard card, but it’s pretty close. And it preserves a lot of the informality that seems to be good about paper cards.

         

        Alain

         

      • Mayank Gupta
        CardMeeting is a cool idea. I tried it today and found it very interesting. I firmly believe that Information radiator is the key for co-located teams. And the
        Message 3 of 9 , Mar 25, 2008
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          CardMeeting is a cool idea. I tried it today and found it very interesting.

           

          I firmly believe that Information radiator is the key for co-located teams. And the team should have their daily standup in front of information radiator itself.

           

          Regards,

          Mayank

           


          From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Desilets, Alain
          Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:53 PM
          To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Do you do Story Cards?

           

          William Petri wrote:

           

          >  I know some people like printed cards but I discourage them, as people are much less likely to change a card by hand or create them on the fly.

          >  Product planning should be a lightweight activity with broad participation. The more elaborate your artifacts, the more inertia you introduce

          >  into the process. That inertia limits agility.

           

          Of course, for distributed teams, hard copies don’t work. For those, I find myself using CardMeeting a lot:

           

          www.cardmeeting. com

           

          Writing a cardmeeting card is not as quick and spontaneous as writing on an actual cardboard card, but it’s pretty close. And it preserves a lot of the informality that seems to be good about paper cards.

           

          Alain

           

        • Patrick Wilson
          Another alternative to CardMeeting is a tool called AgilePlanner. I have (and currently still do) use AgilePlanner for distributed planning sessions. I find
          Message 4 of 9 , Mar 31, 2008
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            Another alternative to CardMeeting is a tool called AgilePlanner. I have
            (and currently still do) use AgilePlanner for distributed planning
            sessions. I find that Agile planner is much faster and more responsive
            for distributed changes than card planner. As well, it is Open Source
            (which is good).



            Mayank Gupta wrote:
            >
            > CardMeeting is a cool idea. I tried it today and found it very
            > interesting.
            >
            > I firmly believe that Information radiator is the key for co-located
            > teams. And the team should have their daily standup in front of
            > information radiator itself.
            >
            > Regards,
            >
            > Mayank
            >
            > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            >
            > *From:* agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] *On Behalf Of *Desilets, Alain
            > *Sent:* Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:53 PM
            > *To:* agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            > *Subject:* RE: [agile-usability] Do you do Story Cards?
            >
            > William Petri wrote:
            >
            > > I know some people like printed cards but I discourage them, as
            > people are much less likely to change a card by hand or create them on
            > the fly.
            >
            > > Product planning should be a lightweight activity with broad
            > participation. The more elaborate your artifacts, the more inertia you
            > introduce
            >
            > > into the process. That inertia limits agility.
            >
            > Of course, for distributed teams, hard copies don’t work. For those, I
            > find myself using CardMeeting a lot:
            >
            > www.cardmeeting.com <http://www.cardmeeting.com>
            >
            > Writing a cardmeeting card is not as quick and spontaneous as writing
            > on an actual cardboard card, but it’s pretty close. And it preserves a
            > lot of the informality that seems to be good about paper cards.
            >
            > Alain
            >
            >
          • kocurek.dusan
            You can also try ScrumDesk (www.scrumdesk.com ) - project management tool for teams using SCRUM. ... - task board with story cards (
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 3, 2008
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              You can also try ScrumDesk (www.scrumdesk.com) - project management tool for teams using SCRUM.

              Features:
              ------------
              - task board with story cards ( theme, tasks, progress tracking in chart)
              - stories grid view
              - drag and drop
              - timeline (sprints, releases, demo)
              - team management,
              - product backlog
              - planning releases and sprints with calculations (availability, occupation,...)
              - tracking daily progress
              - Next sprint view (stories from next sprint)
              - retrospective (including voting for best ideas)
              - SCRUM best practices metrics (velocity by releases, velocity by sprints including Worst Mean 3, Last Mean 8 calculation)

              Other:
              ------------------
              - teams are connected as a project-oriented social group
              - changes notification
              - teams can be distributed over the globe
              - integration with bug tracking and project documentation systems
              - easy call team member using  IP call applications integration (Skype, NetMeeting, Microsoft Communicator,...)
              - easy sending email to team member

              Features for next release (will be released this or next week):
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
              - story templates (if you have tasks that are always repeated in every story - unit test, deploy,....)
              - few enhancements

              Dusan Kocurek
              ScrumDesk product manager
              kocurek.dusan@...
              www.scrumdesk.com


              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Patrick Wilson <piwilson@...> wrote:
              >
              > Another alternative to CardMeeting is a tool called AgilePlanner. I have
              > (and currently still do) use AgilePlanner for distributed planning
              > sessions. I find that Agile planner is much faster and more responsive
              > for distributed changes than card planner. As well, it is Open Source
              > (which is good).
              >
              >
              >
              > Mayank Gupta wrote:
              > >
              > > CardMeeting is a cool idea. I tried it today and found it very
              > > interesting.
              > >
              > > I firmly believe that Information radiator is the key for co-located
              > > teams. And the team should have their daily standup in front of
              > > information radiator itself.
              > >
              > > Regards,
              > >
              > > Mayank
              > >
              > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
              > >
              > > *From:* agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              > > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] *On Behalf Of *Desilets, Alain
              > > *Sent:* Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:53 PM
              > > *To:* agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              > > *Subject:* RE: [agile-usability] Do you do Story Cards?
              > >
              > > William Petri wrote:
              > >
              > > > I know some people like printed cards but I discourage them, as
              > > people are much less likely to change a card by hand or create them on
              > > the fly.
              > >
              > > > Product planning should be a lightweight activity with broad
              > > participation. The more elaborate your artifacts, the more inertia you
              > > introduce
              > >
              > > > into the process. That inertia limits agility.
              > >
              > > Of course, for distributed teams, hard copies don't work. For those, I
              > > find myself using CardMeeting a lot:
              > >
              > > www.cardmeeting.com <http://www.cardmeeting.com>
              > >
              > > Writing a cardmeeting card is not as quick and spontaneous as writing
              > > on an actual cardboard card, but it's pretty close. And it preserves a
              > > lot of the informality that seems to be good about paper cards.
              > >
              > > Alain
              > >
              > >
              >

            • carl myhill
              ... -- User Experience Design (http://www.userexperiencedesign.co.uk)
              Message 6 of 9 , May 14 6:03 PM
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                newbie question - can anyone recommend some decent example Story Cards to look at. Some that I am seeing are very very deep techie based. Coming from a Cooper Goal-Directed Design background I'm used to scenarios which are very much rooted in the human world. Seeing deep techie story fragments which would be a microscopic part of a human scenario seems odd to me.

                Help appreciated.

                Carl



                --
                User Experience Design
                (http://www.userexperiencedesign.co.uk)
              • William Pietri
                ... Hi, Carl. It depends on what you mean by deep techie . I think any card should have a tag that a product manager can look at it and say, yes, I see
                Message 7 of 9 , May 15 9:45 AM
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                  carl myhill wrote:
                  newbie question - can anyone recommend some decent example Story Cards to look at. Some that I am seeing are very very deep techie based. Coming from a Cooper Goal-Directed Design background I'm used to scenarios which are very much rooted in the human world. Seeing deep techie story fragments which would be a microscopic part of a human scenario seems odd to me.

                  Hi, Carl. It depends on what you mean by "deep techie".

                  I think any card should have a tag that a product manager can look at it and say, "yes, I see business value in that". And it's important to me that a team be able to instantly re-state a card in terms of why it matters to real people. So I think your desire to see things rooted in the human world is totally appropriate. I sometimes make my clients half-crazy insisting on it, but they eventually thank me for it. If sometimes grudgingly. :-)

                  My canonical bad tech-phrased story is

                  • create database schema

                  Except in certain very atypical projects, there is no reason a sane product manager would pay extra for this. It is not a shippable unit of work. It is not user visible. If it were possible to release without this card, you would. Ergo, it should be left on the floor, or done as a task, not a story. Instead, I like to see things in a subject-verb-object setup, where the subject is some user or user role. E.g.:

                  • Vendor logs in.
                  • Vendor submits invoice.
                  • Staff member approves invoice.
                  • Accounts payable clerk prints checks.
                  • Department manager reads monthly payments report.

                  The one time when I let people depart from user-focused phrasing is when I think they have it right in their heads, but use some other tag on the card. For example, the check-printing card above might be written as "ADP check-run integration". This is ok if (and only if) If I can ask any member of the team what that means and the can give me an answer in human terms like, "Oh, that's where George, the accounts payable clerk, kicks off a check printing run from ADP, our check printing vendor".

                  I think this is fine because although all work should be, in the final analysis, user-focused, describing every work unit purely in user terms can sometimes be awkward and faintly ridiculous. That's especially true for bug fix cards, cards that aggregate a bunch of little things, research cards, back-end processing, or minor tweaks to existing flows.


                  The only public list of real story cards I know of is this one that I posted last year:

                  http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/extremeprogramming/message/128390

                  Sorry for the poor formatting, but Yahoo's archiver mangled it a little. What you should be seeing is a list of cards broken down by week. E.g., the week of 1/1, they did two cards, a 2-point card and a 1-point card.

                  Most of the cards are in user terms (the ones starting with "User" and "Admin" mainly), but there are ones for back-end processing (the "Crawl" or "Crawler" cards), research ("Research"), and aggregation of little things (like "UI Cleanup"). And of course the release cards.


                  I hope that helps. If you need further info, don't hesitate to ask.

                  William

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