Who, What, and Why: The right way to Write a Person Story

Product managers are anticipated to domesticate and preserve relationships with quite a few folks in the course of the growth course of. Essentially the most intimate of those, nonetheless, will likely be with the product consumer. You need to know them inside out: who they’re, their preferences, and their wants. One solution to develop and preserve this relationship is by writing consumer tales.

Identical to manifestoes and imaginative and prescient paperwork, consumer tales are an integral a part of product growth. Good consumer tales are the important thing to driving environment friendly planning and supply, workforce engagement, and buyer satisfaction. Imprecise consumer tales typically point out that the workforce will battle to finish duties additional down the road—one thing I’ve witnessed typically in my function as a product supervisor.

My involvement in profitable startups—and a few which have failed—has proven me firsthand the significance of taking the time to craft high quality consumer tales. This information will show you how to and your workforce grasp every ingredient and write high quality consumer tales time and time once more.

What Is a Person Story?

A consumer story is a small increment of the product represented by way of the worth it’ll provide to the tip consumer. A bunch of consumer tales creates an epic, and a single product can comprise a number of epics. A consumer story might be damaged down additional into duties that extra precisely mirror the work and description how the story will likely be accomplished. Person tales typically make use of the components Person – Performance – Profit, which might be utilized successfully to most industries and companies.

A large circle filled with small circles, each filled with smaller circles, representing the relationship between tasks, user stories, and epics.

Usually, the product supervisor is chargeable for writing consumer tales, however often this will likely fall to the product proprietor, Scrum grasp, or engineering supervisor. Ideally, each consumer story will likely be reviewed by the individual, or folks, who will undertake the work.

What Are the Advantages of a Good Person Story?

An excellent consumer story has a number of advantages for the workforce and product:

  • Defining the “who” and writing from the consumer’s perspective ensures that focus is maintained on the shopper, moderately than on what the workforce desires or prefers.
  • Defining the “what” clarifies the factors for the individual finishing the duty, referred to as the doer. Something that’s not within the story might be thought-about out of scope.
  • Defining the “why” motivates the doer by serving to them perceive the affect the deliverable may have on the consumer’s life.
  • Defining consumer worth may help establish a less-beneficial function earlier than work on it begins—and sources are probably wasted.

What Does a Good Person Story Look Like?

If, for instance, you’re constructing a home in your buyer, one in all your tales could be about creating the enclosing partitions. A nasty consumer story would possibly say “I want partitions”—figuring out the “what” however nothing extra. A greater one could be: “As a home-owner, I would like my home to have enclosing partitions to maintain out the weather, and so the roof doesn’t fall on my head.” I consider, although, that if a consumer story is actually fulfilling its objective, it ought to clearly and concisely reply the entire following questions:

  • Who’s the consumer?
  • What does the consumer need? Why does the consumer need this?
  • How ought to the engineering workforce interpret this story?
  • Does this story rely on one other story being accomplished beforehand?
  • Does the completion of this story allow one other story within the backlog?
  • What’s the scope (i.e., what are the minimal standards)?
  • How massive is that this story (i.e., the place does it fall on the estimation scale)?

That is the template I exploit—it has advanced with my product administration data and labored properly for me for a few years:





Person Persona

Who’s the consumer?

The consumer is a wealthy man from Chicago who’s constructing an expensive summer time house within the Hamptons.

To completely envision the consumer, groups work with many alternative personas, so you will need to be as detailed as doable.

Person Story

What does the consumer need? Why does the consumer need this?

“As a home-owner, I want to have ornamental brick partitions round my house in a diagonal basketweave sample as a result of I’ll see them day-after-day and would really like them to be a delightful sight.”

To know the motivation of the consumer and their reasoning.


How ought to the engineering workforce interpret this story?

The consumer desires elaborate partitions, so we have to construct a daily central wall after which have scaffolding within the required type (i.e., diagonal basketweave). We will use common bricks for the core wall, however might want to use high-quality decor bricks for the facade layers on either side of the wall.

To interrupt down the story logically into duties, which aids progress-tracking.


Does this story rely on one other story being accomplished beforehand?

As a way to begin work on this, the inspiration of the home must be accomplished and able to construct upon.

To interpret the place a narrative is within the workstream hierarchy and visualize the general supply timeline.


Does the completion of this story allow one other story within the backlog?

When the partitions are accomplished, we can put up assist columns and, lastly, the roof.

To interpret the place a narrative is within the workstream hierarchy and visualize the general supply timeline.

Definition of Executed

What’s the scope?

There ought to be a steady set of exterior partitions round the home, with a diagonal basketweave-style facade on either side of the wall. Finish-to-end width of the wall ought to be a minimum of 12 inches at any level.

To outline when a narrative is full. The answer might want to embody the whole lot listed right here.

T-shirt Measurement

How massive is that this story?


To loosely estimate supply time for the general story. A extra granular estimation will then be accomplished for every job by the doer.

A Frequent Person Story Delusion

Relating to judging whether or not consumer tales are good or dangerous, there’s a pervasive fable that I need to dispel.

Many individuals consider {that a} consumer story ought to be accomplished in a single dash, and, if it isn’t, it was a nasty consumer story. This isn’t the case. After all, it’s preferable {that a} consumer story will get accomplished in a dash (and this ought to be achievable), however the workforce’s bandwidth and exterior components might affect the quantity of labor that may be carried out—and this can differ from dash to dash. Additionally, estimates typically assume that each growth workforce member has the identical talent stage throughout all domains; the actual fact is, it’ll take much less time for a extra skilled engineer to finish a job than a junior engineer.

You shouldn’t attempt to craft quick consumer tales simply in order that they are going to be accomplished rapidly; moderately, your consumer story ought to search to symbolize a logical increment of worth delivered. Don’t let a schedule dictate your creation of a compelling consumer story.

Hold the Person Entrance and Heart in Your Thoughts

I discover initiatives are most pleasant and most profitable when I’m assured in my data of the consumer—you’ll be able to be taught extra about my experiences on my personal blog. Whether or not I’m pitching new options or deciding on the scope of supply with my workforce, figuring out what the consumer would say is probably the most dependable solution to take a look at my imaginative and prescient. It’s, nonetheless, simple to lose contact with the consumer—and subsequently the “why”—if I’m not commonly pondering of them. That is true for almost all of product managers whose focus is usually pulled to different duties and duties. Writing good consumer tales may help you and your workforce members preserve that picture of the consumer in your thoughts, and even improve your relationship with them.

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