User Stories Webinar

Q: What is a scrum master?

A: A scrum master represents the needs of the team, facilitates Agile meetings, and assists when a team member is blocked from progressing with their work. Learn more here.


Q: We found we needed to write user stories prior to a sprint , to provide enough for the developers to work on. Is that typical for other teams?

A: Absolutely. In fact, a user story should generally be on the backlog a few iterations before that. If the team has 1–3 iteration cycles to discuss and estimate a story before it is scheduled, the team can more confidently commit to the work.


Q: Should a UX (user experience) lead also have direct contact with users, not just product owners?

A: Yes. Our UX team implements feedback boxes when a major new feature is released or previewed in CA Agile Central, and delivers that feedback to product owners for future development.


Q: Who writes the initial user stories? Anyone? Should it be the product owner?

A: Anyone can write a user story and place it on the backlog. In the next backlog refinement meeting, the team discusses new stories together. The product owner is responsible for story priority.


Q: Where are the CA Agile Central apps listed so we can install them?

A: CA Agile Central apps can be installed from the Dashboard page , or after you create a custom page . Learn more here.


Q: Where we can find the number of test cases for child user story?

A: Select on a user story ID in CA Agile Central to go to its details page. From there, select Test Cases on the left side. You will then see any test cases associated to that story.


Q: How about sizing? Sometimes without understanding the details, the effort could change significantly.

A: Continual backlog refinement sessions allow the team to revisit work as it moves up, closer to being scheduled. You want just enough information, at the last responsible moment. You may find that over the course of a few months, a story and its children are broken down multiple times, as the size is refined.


Q: Does that relate to what is referred to minimal viable product MVP?

A: Essentially it is comparable. You want to ensure that a user story is crafted so that the scope to be developed will fit within the iteration timebox and that it is functional on completion.


Q: We are developing a grants management tool. We now need to build a recommender portal for professors to recommend students for scholarships. Would you start with one user story, and many child user stories?

A: Depending on a few variables you may want to discuss this in more detail with your Technical Account Manager or an Agile coach. In CA Agile Central, you can manage this work in many ways. It sounds like a single user story for each recommendation would work best. Keep all recommendations in an independent project (but you can have that project in a hierarchy to roll data up and down with other work). You can then categorize those user stories by professor, topic, and so on using the tags function. This is just one way to manage the work.


Q: What if the defect is acceptable—as a product owner, I might be OK with a defect that is low priority? Can I still accept?

A: If that is your definition, and can approve the acceptance with the product owner and delivery team (update the acceptance criteria ), then yes, this would be acceptable. In such a scenario, we highly recommend a plan to ensure the defect is either addressed in the future or formally deferred.


Q: What's the best way to write a user story for a data package for reporting. I have 300 data elements that need to belong in a data model from which reports and ad hoc queries will be written.

A: If you generally use a design document to account for all these variables, you can attach this to a user story in CA Agile Central. A general user story value statement could read: As a developer, I need to implement a data package according to attached specifications, so that I may collect better reports.


Q: When or where are those additional details documented if not in the user story? The user story alone is not enough for the developer to code from.

A: If you have complex technical documentation needs, those can be attached directly to the user story in CA Agile Central. You can use .pdf, .doc, or other file formats.


Q: Do you need to break down a story in to individual stories regarding the credit card example (pay by yen, pay by dollars)?

A: It depends. If a complete user story (provide credit card payment system, support multiple currencies) can be done in a single iteration, it is a single story (with the currencies in the acceptance criteria). If the work to support one currency over another is not done in the same iteration, either due to size or time, they should be split into separate stories.


Q: Are there mechanisms available in user story creation that help program managers identify when scope creep is occurring (for example, a story does not fit within the vision or roadmap ).

A: Normally it's when you are estimating a story that you will identify that its scope may not fit within an iteration and so the story needs to be broken down into smaller pieces so it does fit the developmental cadence. You can find more information on this here.


Q: How do you write user stories with a globally distributed Agile team . Any recommendations?

A: We recommend using tools that make your distributed team feel smaller. Things like video conferencing, instant messenger, and the CA Agile Central application help you collectively discuss user stories when you have your scheduled refinement and planning meetings.


Q: Can a user story exceed the length of a sprint?

A: If your team estimates that a story's total number of estimation points is greater than the average number of points they can complete in an iteration, it is too large. Break stories like this down into the smallest children possible, so that you can see the increments of value being delivered.


Q: What are some best practices for a team that is new to Agile, Scrum and CA Agile Central? We're finding the hardest part is where to start.

A: Here’s our getting started page, and have your team go through the tutorial, linked at the top.


Q: What does INVEST stand for?

A: The acronym INVEST reminds you that good stories are: I – Independent, N – Negotiable, V – Valuable, E – Estimable, S – Small, T – Testable.


Q: Who should drive the definition of acceptance criteria?

A: The entire development team. The product owner dictates what the business wants, the team dictates what is feasible.


Q: In your example of credit card processing, who designs the interface where the user interacts and pays?

A: The person best suited to do that work on the cross-functional team. You can track this work with one or multiple tasks.


Q: How should the product owner collect user stories from stakeholders? What about if the stakeholders are the future product users?

A: There are many ways to collect feedback from existing and current users. The product owner must strike a balance between delivering everything that is currently being requested, and what she anticipates may provide value. One recommendation is to use a feedback or feature request system. CA Agile Central Ideas is one example.


Q: Where is the best place to put technical details for the story?

A: There are two options to where you can place your technical details for a user story. You can enter it into the description after the As a User I want... or as an attachment to the story itself.


Q: Is there a recommended limit to how deep the hierarchy should go?

A: This can vary depending on what works best for you, but we find 2–3 levels is best. Once you go beyond that, it may be time to take advantage of long-term reporting and executive visibility features provided by CA Agile Central Portfolio Manager.


Q: Is the right size for a story in a single iteration? Or a single release (multiple iterations)?

A: If you cannot complete a user story in a single iteration, it is too large and needs to be broken down. Learn more here.


Q: Can the story burnup chart be updated so you can view the burnup at the portfolio levels (features and initiatives ) instead of just user story and epic level?

A: We are working on rollup and advanced reporting features like this to release in the near future. Stay tuned!


Q: It's my understanding that user stories are more for presenting to business and use cases are more for development. Where do you recommend adding use cases in CA Agile Central?

A: We believe user stories are an evolution of use cases. In fact, CA Agile Central used to support use cases, but converted them all to stories, as the open text editor allows you to craft your requirements in a way that works best for your team. We feel user stories are better because they focus on the value they deliver. With that known, testers can start writing tests, writers can begin documentation, and so on. If you need to add technical details, that's still fine. You can include them in a story's acceptance criteria, or even an attachment.


Q: Is it appropriate to conduct a whole sprint dedicated to a spike?

A: We wouldn’t consider it a spike is it required a whole iteration for the work. It would be a swarm. Swarms are when a critical need or initiative has been identified and teams are pulled to work on it solely allowing other, less critical work to wait for the next iteration to be picked back up.


Q: How do I estimate the story points for a story? How do story points relate to the actual hours that will be estimated?

A: The short answer is that task hours should not be related to story points. Story points work because they are abstract values, and represent the team's ability, instead of time. Learn more at our estimation webinar and here.


Q: Do you have training or courses designed on how to use CA Agile Central effectively and what is the cost of this course?

A: We provide onsite coaching services focused on using CA Agile Central, according to your unique needs. In the meantime, here are free tutorials that use the scrum framework focused in CA Agile Central.


Q: How can you use story cards effectively if your team is not co-located?

A: When you are working with a dispersed team there are apps that help with using story cards. A great example is the Iteration Tracking Board.


Q: Backlog refinement isn't called out as a ritual in the scrum framework. How do you execute on this without adding weight to the process?

A: While it's not a formal part of some framework instruction, Ken Schwaber and other thought leaders recommend dedicating at least 5% of your time to backlog refinement and maintenance. You can run through this meeting right before iteration planning (looking a week ahead) to keep the team focused.


Q: Could we delete defects which are linked to a user story? Or if it's not correct, delete defects from CA Agile Central in any cases?

A: While the function to delete defects exists in CA Agile Central it is not recommended to delete them unless they were created inadvertently. Normally you will close a defect that is associated to a user story and note in the discussions why it was closed.


Q: Where and when does the product manager and marketing get involved when defining business value?

A: With Agile, the product manager becomes the product owner. The product owner may take advisement from marketing on defining what is most valuable to develop first.


Q: How do you best break down user stories? Often my team wants to separate UI from services, for example, and neither is valuable without the other.

A: With CA Agile Central, you can use a parent- child story hierarchy to document the feature in iteration-sized chunks, all connected back to a master parent story . This way you can separate UI work and other department requirements as necessary.


Q: Are user stories intended to replace both business and functional requirements?

A: Yes, but if you have complex requirements that need to be noted you should attach them to the story.


Q: We have default tasks that we have with (almost) every story. For example, code, QA, and business analyst review. Is there a way in CA Agile Central to create default task that appear with every story?

A: Yes, create a template story in CA Agile Central with the tasks you need. Next, write your new story, and use the Copy Tasks From function to copy the tasks from the template to the new work. Learn more here.


Q: In CA Agile Central, can I break down a user story into a few small stories (not tasks)?

A: Yes, if you have a story that doesn't fit within an iteration time box, you can break it into smaller, children stories. Once those children are completed, complete the parent story.


Q: Is it possible to add Excel sheet test cases into CA Agile Central?

A: Yes, CA Agile Central supports the import of test cases from a .csv file. Learn more here. Two quick things to note:

  • Standalone (those not attached to a user story) test cases require CA Agile Central Unlimited Edition, or Enterprise Edition with CA Agile Central Quality Manager.
  • You cannot import the test case step field with this method.


Q: Is there any way to see project team capacity using CA Agile Central? For example, if a user is 80% of his capacity ?

A: Yes, use the My Availability app, as well as the Team Status page.


Q: Do all the defects associated with the user stories have to be closed before we close the parent user story?

A: Yes, this should be part of your team's definition of Done : If a story has open defects associated with it, it is not done, and the product owner cannot accept it.


Q: Do you recommend logging defects found within sprint development?

A: Yes, we do recommend that defects be logged when found within a sprint. We recommend that no team have their full capacity planned in an iteration. There should be at least 15% left open to account for defect work that may come up in a sprint. The defect must be closed and the Product Owner must accept it.


Q: Is it possible for CA Agile Central to send me an email notification when team enter comments to the story/task?

A: Yes. Learn how to set that up here.


Q: Does the story get adjusted to I want to pay by credit card in US Dollars and create another user story for Yen ?

A: Yes. In the general example we were building, it may be better to say that providing credit card service is an epic or parent user story, with supporting dollars and supporting yen as child user stories, ranked 1 and 2 on the backlog.


Q: Can you connect different user stories to show dependencies in CA Agile Central?

A: Yes. CA Agile Central Enterprise and Unlimited Editions support predecessor and successor dependencies. Learn how to use them here.


Q: The terms sprint and iteration are interchangeable? If not, what's the difference?

A: You correct, the terminology is interchangeable.


Q: Do we have any add in to provide the support for test cases step to be loaded in CA Agile Central?

A: You may be able to use the Excel Add-In integration.


Q: How is the task board app downloaded?

A: Navigate to your Dashboard page, or create a new custom page. You'll see a menu where you can select Add app to display our app catalog.


Q: I need to provide a customer with estimates and have written the user stories. Should I get them estimated? What should be the process?

A: Your team needs to estimate all work during backlog refinement sessions, so the size of work is known before an iteration is planned. If you have a financial requirement that you need to deliver a timeframe for, you can calculate the number of iterations it will take to complete a project by estimating all of the work in points, and then applying your average number of completed story points per iteration. We'll cover this in more detail in our estimation webinar. Learn more here.


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