The best product owners looking to build new software know their end users to a T. But when they don’t, Business Analysts help them get there. A go-between for product owners and development teams, BAs help to determine how the functionalities in development can amount to a quality user experience.
User stories distill complex needs into concise directions for developers. As such, BAs aim to prevent requirements from becoming lost in translation. They ensure that developers prioritize functions that fulfill specific user needs and boost ROI.
But sometimes BAs need another way to bridge the gap between business requirements and the user stories behind excellent UX. Adding technical user stories provides developers with valuable direction in addition to important context for the product owner.
What are Technical User Stories?
User stories offer a concise way to convey software requirements to developers.
As a [user role] I want to [perform some function] so that [some value is realized].
But sometimes BAs must provide more context for developers and product owners alike during complex projects with technical user stories.
Technical user stories take a product owner’s goals a step further. If the product owner’s software vision involves more architectural complexity than she anticipated, the BA accounts for this by writing a technical user story that guides the building of specific backend logic.
5 Times You’ll Need Technical User Stories the Most
Technical user stories tend to figure largely at the very beginning of complex software projects, where architecture must be implemented to support user needs later on. Technical user stories occur typically in the following instances:
- Technical user stories often are used when setting up the backend, development and QA environments, and implementing libraries like Angular, React, Node, etc.
- A product owner want users to login with Facebook in her software, but she might not take into account that that feature requires more technical finesse than anticipated. Technical user stories help to bridge this gap between the PO’s expectations and the developers’ understanding of complex features and their value to the user experience. Technical user stories are often used when implementing third party APIs (Google Maps API, Weather forecast APIs, Facebook APIs).
- Technical user stories benefit projects that involve heavy database logic. For example, a web-based ordering platform for manufacturing parts that offers diverse products with complex interdependencies, used by diverse users with varying degrees of access, will benefit from technical user stories before development begins.
- Technical user stories are useful for projects involving data migration. While the end user might not think twice about the database behind the product, he will appreciate when data from one table in the old database maps correctly to a table in the new database, and so on.
- Software development teams also benefit from technical user stories when they need to optimize and implement algorithms to support features such as complex search engines or video rendering software.
Why Shouldn’t Product Owners Overlook Technical User Stories?
If the value of a backend feature isn’t apparent to the end user, there’s a chance the product owner feels much the same. Product owners just dipping their toes in software development could be forgiven for overlooking the need for technical user stories in their projects, but it’s a mistake they shouldn’t make twice. Here’s why:
- Technical user stories highlight critical backend features, which can help the product owner prioritize their requirements and control project scope.
- Technical user stories include technical implementation details and help developers to estimate their efforts more accurately.
- Technical user stories help teams ensure that all critical technical aspects are covered
- Distinguishing between user stories and technical user stories provides a granular view of the project, which can lead the product owner to shift business requirements in order to maximize the ROI of the software
What Projects Benefit from Technical User Stories Most?
Business leaders who develop software are right to focus on end users and their needs. But they must also account for complex software architectures whose value may not be apparent to the end users, let alone the product owners.
A product owner can dictate requirements one way, and the developer could interpret them in another. Thankfully, BA teams both refine the requirements with business stakeholders and transfer them to developers in an actionable way. If a product owner underestimates the complexity of a solution, the skilled BA is there to refine the understanding of what is needed and to communicate that need to developers accordingly.
It’s not uncommon for a client to write a requirement for data access from third party via an API, only to realize later on that such requests need an authentication mechanism. Thankfully, BAs in distributed teams can act as allies to both product owners and developers. By crafting technical user stories, they detail how advanced backed logic can serve the goals outlined during ideation.
Image Source: John T, Unsplash