A Tale of Two Stories

SAME USER STORY – TWO VERSIONS

Both of the following are legitimate Agile User Stories. They are very different because they would be consumed by very different types of teams. The overriding principle is know your audience and write for them.

Story 1 is appropriate for a US-based start-up team. They have a good relationship with a co-located Product Owner who can spend time with them as needed to answer questions, give guidance on design, and provide feedback on mock-ups or prototypes. This is generally considered an ideal environment for an Agile development team. Because the team has a UX designer on board and a strong lead developer, they do not want the User Stories to be prescriptive in nature. In this environment the Agile BA must give stories a light touch, but provide enough clarity to allow for estimation and prioritization.

Story 2 is for an offshore team that does all the coding but works through a BA or design lead based in the US. The team understands English pretty well and the company does not want the overhead of formal functional specifications. The developers are used to working in a short turnaround loop with a remote liaison. The cross-cultural challenge as well as the remote location and time-shifted work require more detail in the story to prevent confusion, provide consistent naming and UI, and to lower the delay caused by many back-and-forth questions.

BUSINESS SCENARIO

Internal sales staff receive new leads through a form submitted on the company website. The leads arrive by email and the staff must relay the leads to the appropriate salesperson based on the geography of the prospect. An internal sales portal is being built/configured to allow in-house staff to enter the raw information from sales leads. The system will then route the lead to the right sales rep based on geographic mapping. The user must also be able to work from a list of printed lead information.

STORY TITLE

“Enter New Sales Lead”

USER STORY 1 – STARTUP TEAM

As a sales user, I want to send a new sales lead to the appropriate regional sales rep so that the rep can quickly contact the prospect.

Acceptance Tests

  1. When I enter all required contact information, then the system saves and routes the lead.
  2. When I omit any required field, then the system informs me about the missing information without losing any of the data I have already entered.
  3. When I successfully enter and save a new lead, the system displays a success message containing the name and email of the last lead entered.

USER STORY 2 – OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT

As a sales user, I want to enter personal information about a new sales prospect and save* it to the sales lead database so that the appropriate regional sales rep can quickly contact the prospect.

Required Fields:

  • First Name (20 characters)
  • Last Name (20 characters)
  • Email Address (validate format as user@domainName.tld)
  • Phone Number [formatted as (NNN) NNN-NNNN after entry]
  • City (30 characters; minimum of 3 characters)
  • State (drop-down list of US States, showing abbreviation and name, sorted alphabetically by Abbreviation, display format: AA – XXXXXXXX; Data source: http://www.50states.com/abbreviations.htm)
  • Zip Code (10 characters; minimum of 5 characters)

Acceptance Tests:

  1. When I enter all required contact information, then the system saves* the record.
  2. When I omit any required field, then the system informs me about the missing information without losing any of the data I have already entered into the fields on the screen.
  3. When I successfully enter and save a new lead, the system displays a success message containing the name and email of the last lead entered.
  4. When a new lead is saved, the entry screen is cleared and reset, ready for a new lead to be entered.

 

* You’ll note that the language of the second story and related tests has been made more limited. My experience with offshore teams suggests that requirements should be narrowed to prevent unwanted work. Whereas the co-located team would likely spin off a new “Route Sales Lead” story, a remote team that earns money by the hour might choose, without asking, to make the ‘routing’ part of the original story. You can argue that the original story be treated as an Epic and automatically split into smaller bites, but that is beyond the scope of this small article.

Hire a Side-Hustler

There’s an old adage that goes:

  • If you want something done, give it to a busy person.

I think this would be a good modern corollary:

  • Given a choice of new-hire candidates, choose the one with an active side-hustle.

Consider this…

In the course of launching a Private Label product on Amazon, I have learned and succeeded at all of these things:

  • Branding
  • Setting up a DBA name
  • Buying a new domain
  • Creating a new website
  • Opening a business checking account
  • Establishing a county sales tax ID
  • Configuring an online accounting package
  • Product Ideation
  • Customer prospect surveys
  • Product Selection
  • Product Sales and Profitablity Analysis
  • Art concept selection
  • Product specification
  • Hiring artists
  • Hiring virtual assistants
  • Hiring content writers
  • International product sourcing research
  • Interviewing manufacturers
  • Materials selection
  • Price and order quantity negotiation
  • Cross-cultural written communication
  • Handling supplier staff changes
  • Product sample quality-checks
  • Hiring third-party product inspectors
  • Arranging international shipping
  • Scheduling international wire transfers
  • Creating Amazon product listings
  • Coordinating professional photography
  • Product search term/keyword analysis
  • Product launch planning
  • Product promotion
  • Automation vendor selection
  • Automating post-sales communications
  • Providing fantastic customer service

…and probably a half-dozen things I forgot.

The time and energy required to overcome all the obstacles one encounters when launching a new product on a new platform are significant. This process is not for the faint of heart. Or the lazy. Or the impatient.

Bottom line:

If I’m driven enough to put in months of effort to learn new skills and make some side money… imagine what I can do for someone who’s supporting my family with a regular paycheck?

Find out by hiring me… or anyone who has an active side-hustle. We’re a good bet.

What’s that you say? Where’s this alleged product I launched? Check it out here.

 

Image: Adam Freidin via Flickr

Feedback Please (but really, go away)

Yes, it’s the end of 2016 and forms like this really do exist.

What’s your take — do they want my feedback or not? The size of the buttons are telling, I think.

That, and the absence of an attachment option. I mean, describing technical issues is always better in text than with a screenshot, right?