Funny how somethings fade from view and then return. Thats how its been with User Stories for me in the last few weeks – hence my User Story Primer online workshop next month.
A few days ago I was talking to someone about the User Story workshop and he said “O, I don’t use Story Points any more.” Which had me saying “Erh, what?”
In my mind User Stories and Story Points are two completely different thing used for completely different purposes. It is not even the difference between apple and oranges, its the difference between apples and pasta.
User Stories are lightweight tool for capture what are generally called requirements. Alternatives to User Stories are Use Cases, Personas Stories and things like the IEEE 1233 standard. (More about Use Cases in the next post.)
Story Points are a unit of measurement for quantifying how much work is required to do something – that something might be a User Story but it could just as easily be a Use Case or a verbal description of a need.
So it would seem, for better or worse User Stories and Story Points have become entangled.
The important thing about Story Points is that they are a unit of measurement. What you call that unit is up to you. I’ve heard those units called Nebulous Units of Time, Effort Points or just Points, Druples, and even Tea Bags. Sometimes they measure the effort for a story, sometimes the effort for a task or even epic, sometimes the effort includes testing and sometimes not. Every team has its own unit, its own currency. Each team measures something slightly different. You can’t compare different teams units, you can only compare the results and see how much the unit buys you with that team.
To my mind User Stories and Story Points are independent of one another and can be used separately. But, it is also true that both have become very associated with Scrum. Neither is officially part of Scrum but it is common to find Scrum teams capture requirements as User Stories and estimate the effort with Story Points. It is also true that Mike Cohn has written books on both and both are contained in SAFe.
Which brings me to my next post, User Stories v. Use Cases.