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How to write user stories that work in Jira?


Katarzyna Dorosz-Zurkowska - 10 September 2019 - 0 comments

User stories are a key element in the agile methodologies. They’re an essential strategy for communicating requirements to the development team. It’s important that the person tasked with documenting feature requirements is able to write effective and accurate user stories. 

Note that user stories need to be general enough to enable the development team to start analyzing, designing, and developing the solution for the feature stated in the user stories. It can’t be detailed to enable the team to have full creative freedom in choosing their approach to designing a given functionality. 

In this article, I share some critical tips for writing user stories in Jira, one of the most widespread project management platforms among development teams. Atlassian’s tool comes in handy to teams following agile frameworks such as Scrum or Kanban. These tools were designed to support teams with a wealth of functionalities that help to organize work and deliver higher value, faster.

Ready to learn how user stories work in Jira? Let’s dive in.

Introduction to user stories in Jira

Let’s start with the basics: what is a user story? A user story is a short and simplified description of a feature in the system which is being developed. The most important thing about user stories is the fact that they’re told from the perspective of the user; the person who will be using that capability. The user can be a customer who pays for the solution or an internal user of the system. 

Most user stories follow this template:

As a [type of user], I want to do [X[, so that I can [achieve goal X]. 

For example:

As a team leader, I want to have access to advanced reporting so that I can report on the success of my team better.

Why write user stories?

  • They help the team focus on the end user – the development team usually works on a list of tasks that need to be completed, and they need access to a bigger-picture view of the project. That’s what user stories provide – they help your team stay focused on solving problems for real users. 
  • They boost collaboration – since they define the end goal, user stories help team members work together, brainstorm and decide how to build a feature that allows achieving that objective.
  • They create project momentum – after completing a user story, the team can celebrate a small win and drive the momentum of the project. 
  • The foster creativity – since user stories are general and don’t include specific requirements or details, they encourage the team to brainstorm possible solutions for achieving the end goals.

Many teams write user stories on index cards or sticking. Then they post user stories on the Scrum board and during the sprint planning meeting, they decide which user stories will land in the backlog and their associated requirements. 

However, with Jira Software your team gets the opportunity to digitize the process. Here’s how writing user stories in Jira works.

How to write user stories in Jira

You can create a new user story in Jira by selecting the option to create a new issue. When choosing the issue type, you need to pick Story. You can then use the summary field to fill it with the user story itself. You will see it on the new issue creation screen.

There are several things to remember when writing a user story:

  • Make sure that it’s independent. A user story needs to be able to exist on its own and make sense. So it needs to be independent of all other user stories.
  • User stories are negotiable. A user story doesn’t detail specific features or contain requirements. Its role is to facilitate discussion among project stakeholders about what end goals a given system needs to deliver and what kind of requirements will allow that system to perform.
  • User stories need to focus on business value. They concentrate on the user: their needs, desires, and requirements. Ultimately, every user story displays the end value that the software you’re building will bring to your users.

In Jira, you can also set priority to user stories, add the due dates, assign given user stories to team members in the project, and include a story point estimation. Once the user story is ready, your team can assign it to the sprint during which it will be implemented.

Don’t forget about acceptance criteria

One of the essential elements of user stories is confirmation, where the team specifies the acceptance criteria for a given user story. And acceptance criterion comes in handy for making sure that a particular story can be marked as done. It serves as a definition of done for the team.

Usually, product owners use it to confirm that a user story has been completed. Acceptance criteria are also a great help for the development team in implementing functionalities. They serve as a point of reference for the key quality assurance team. You can use the description field in the Jira issue creation screen to specify the acceptance criteria for your user story.

Facilitate discussion

Another key aspect of user stories is that they should foster a conversation about the feature among all the project stakeholders, especially the development team. This is known as the “conversation” component of user stories. 

To provide material for discussion, user stories often come with visual materials such as wireframes, mockups, and project process diagrams. You can easily add all the files as attachments to your Jira issue that represents a user story. Moreover, Jira users can associate a user story with more advanced resources such as links to wiki pages maintained in another Atlassian tool, Confluence.

Key takeaway

Writing user stories is the best strategy for maintaining requirements in the dynamic ecosystem of agile projects. Jira offers a wealth of features that help teams to manage requirements efficiently. 

Do you have any questions about using Jira and other Atlassian tools to boost your agile processes? Get in touch with us; we help organizations make the most of these platforms to enhance the productivity of their agile teams.

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