Who, What, and Why: Methods to Write a Person Story

Product managers are anticipated to domesticate and preserve relationships with quite a few folks throughout the growth course of. Essentially the most intimate of those, nevertheless, can be with the product person. It’s best to know them inside out: who they’re, their preferences, and their wants. One strategy to develop and preserve this relationship is by writing person tales.

Similar to manifestoes and imaginative and prescient paperwork, person tales are an integral a part of product growth. Good person tales are the important thing to driving environment friendly planning and supply, staff engagement, and buyer satisfaction. Imprecise person tales typically point out that the staff will wrestle to finish duties additional down the road—one thing I’ve witnessed typically in my position 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 person tales. This information will allow you to and your staff grasp every ingredient and write high quality person tales time and time once more.

What Is a Person Story?

A person story is a small increment of the product represented when it comes to the worth it is going to provide to the top person. A bunch of person tales creates an epic, and a single product can comprise a number of epics. A person story could be damaged down additional into duties that extra precisely mirror the work and description how the story can be accomplished. Person tales usually make use of the method Person – Performance – Profit, which could 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 person tales, however sometimes this may increasingly fall to the product proprietor, Scrum grasp, or engineering supervisor. Ideally, each person story can be reviewed by the particular person, or folks, who will undertake the work.

What Are the Advantages of a Good Person Story?

A great person story has a number of advantages for the staff and product:

  • Defining the “who” and writing from the person’s perspective ensures that focus is maintained on the shopper, reasonably than on what the staff needs or prefers.
  • Defining the “what” clarifies the standards for the particular person finishing the duty, often called the doer. Something that’s not within the story could be thought of out of scope.
  • Defining the “why” motivates the doer by serving to them perceive the affect the deliverable could have on the person’s life.
  • Defining person worth can assist determine a less-beneficial function earlier than work on it begins—and assets are doubtlessly wasted.

What Does a Good Person Story Look Like?

If, for instance, you might be constructing a home to your buyer, one in every of your tales could be about creating the enclosing partitions. A nasty person story may 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 imagine, although, that if a person story is actually fulfilling its goal, it ought to clearly and concisely reply the entire following questions:

  • Who’s the person?
  • What does the person need? Why does the person need this?
  • How ought to the engineering staff interpret this story?
  • Does this story rely upon 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 huge is that this story (i.e., the place does it fall on the estimation scale)?

That is the template I take advantage of—it has advanced with my product administration data and labored effectively for me for a few years:





Person Persona

Who’s the person?

The person is a wealthy man from Chicago who’s constructing an expensive summer season dwelling within the Hamptons.

To totally envision the person, groups work with many various personas, so you will need to be as detailed as attainable.

Person Story

What does the person need? Why does the person need this?

“As a home-owner, I want to have ornamental brick partitions round my dwelling in a diagonal basketweave sample as a result of I’ll see them every single day and would love them to be a satisfying sight.”

To grasp the motivation of the person and their reasoning.


How ought to the engineering staff interpret this story?

The person needs elaborate partitions, so we have to construct an everyday central wall after which have scaffolding within the required type (i.e., diagonal basketweave). We are able to 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 upon one other story being accomplished beforehand?

So as to begin work on this, the muse 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 help columns and, lastly, the roof.

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

Definition of Completed

What’s the scope?

There needs 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 needs to be at least 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 Dimension

How huge is that this story?


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

A Frequent Person Story Fable

In relation to judging whether or not person tales are good or unhealthy, there’s a pervasive fantasy that I need to dispel.

Many individuals imagine {that a} person story needs to be accomplished in a single dash, and, if it isn’t, it was a foul person story. This isn’t the case. After all, it’s preferable {that a} person story will get accomplished in a dash (and this needs to be achievable), however the staff’s bandwidth and exterior elements might affect the quantity of labor that may be executed—and this may fluctuate from dash to dash. Additionally, estimates usually assume that each growth staff member has the identical ability stage throughout all domains; the actual fact is, it is going to take much less time for a extra skilled engineer to finish a activity than a junior engineer.

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

Preserve the Person Entrance and Middle in Your Thoughts

I discover tasks are most fulfilling and most profitable when I’m assured in my data of the person—you possibly can 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 staff, understanding what the person would say is probably the most dependable strategy to take a look at my imaginative and prescient. It’s, nevertheless, simple to lose contact with the person—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 person tales can assist you and your staff members preserve that picture of the person in your thoughts, and even improve your relationship with them.

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