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Example story cards

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  • 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 1 of 9 , May 15, 2008
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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:


      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.


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