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User Stories vs Tasks

Let's dive in and say it out loud, a backlog is merely a list of user stories BUT it is not a list of tasks.

It's items within items within items.
On a typical backlog you will have, Initiatives with Epics holding User Stories containing Tasks and even Sub-tasks.

Initiatives and Epics we all mostly get correct, they are the big items spanning big(ish) timescales, say no less than 3 months.

Tasks and sub-tasks, we get those as well. We're all used to writing lists of things to do, "Get the bins in", "Get a haircut", "Write the weekly report". Things we need TO DO.

And there's User Stories, a weird in between thing that's not massive but, so you're telling me Mike, not a task. Why can't my Backlog be full of things to do, that's what lists are for, no?

Taking this straight from, User Stories - the best we can create, a doc of hints and tips from me at ... well, somewhere ;)

What is a User Story?

Summary: A user story is an informal, general explanation of a feature/deliverable written from the perspective of the user. It’s purpose is to articulate how a feature/deliverable will provide value to the customer.

A key component of agile is putting people first, and a user story puts end users at the centre of the conversation. These stories use non-technical language to provide context for the team and their efforts. After reading a user story, the team knows why they are building, what they're building, and what value it creates.

Note that "customers" don't have to be external end users in the traditional sense, they can also be internal customers or colleagues within your organisation who depend on your team.

Stories fit neatly into agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban. In Scrum, user stories are added to sprints and “burned down” over the duration of the sprint. Kanban teams pull user stories into their backlog and run them through their workflow. It’s this work on user stories that help Scrum teams get better at estimation and sprint planning, leading to more accurate forecasting and greater agility. Thanks to stories, Kanban teams learn how to manage work-in-progress (WIP) and can further refine their workflows.

Still not sure why user stories aren’t tasks?

  1. User stories are the WHAT needs to be Done and WHY.
  2. The daily tasks (HOW, WHEN, WHERE, WHO) needed to get to a user story Done are not recorded as the User Story.
Captured just as he enters the water, Mike Riversdale dives into a FREEZING freshwater pool