Difference between User stories and Requirements

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User Stories vs Requirements

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Are you still a work-in-progress, taking the Agile Training from PremierAgile? As an Agile Beginner, you might be learning new terms and methodologies every day, right? If you are a Developer and you are responsible for developing Product Features, then you must know the difference between User stories and Product Requirements. Both terms are commonly used in Agile Software Development Projects. But what exactly is a User Story? Is it different from Product Requirements? This guide will clear all your confusion. So let’s begin! 

What is a User Story?

In Scrum, User Stories are the items that give short descriptions of the product functionalities and features that need to be developed as per the end-user requirements. The focus is on describing how the end-users are going to interact with the software and use its functionalities. This high-level definition provides the Developers with enough context to understand the end user’s perspective and the software development requirements of the Product Owner.

A good User Story is written in simple yet clear language, describing the anticipated software/product benefits as the Product Goal. Most of the User Stories follow a common template like below:

As a [this type of user], I want [the desired requirements and outcomes] so that [specific reasons].

Let’s take a look at the following example of a well-written User Story.

As a customer, I want to create a wishlist to add my favorite items that I wish to purchase in the future.

The User Story statement comes from the Product Owner or Business Stakeholders who then engages the Agile Teams to work on developing the User Story. 

The Certified Scrum Product Owner also defines the Acceptance Criteria for that particular User Story. Acceptance Criteria define the boundaries of a User Story for which it is considered to be completed. Based on the Acceptance Criteria, the Developers work on the feature development and the tester conducts the Test Cases. This helps the Product Owner to integrate the end-user’s perspective into the Agile team’s development approach.

What is a Requirement?

Requirements in Agile Projects describe the software functionalities and features altogether. The intent of Product Requirements is to define the Product Design Document that describes each product feature to the working teams. Consider it as a detailed technical analysis done by the Technology Analyst to confirm the validity of the Product Features. The Requirements Document serves the purpose of thoroughly guiding the software development team in building a final product as per the unique Product Vision.

Requirements Document covers precise details about the product features and requires a fair amount of time to complete. When the Developers read the Requirements Document, they come across executive summaries, product scope, development risks, and more details. 

Let’s take a look at what a Requirements Document can contain:

Product Vision, Development Scope, Feature Definition, Potential Risk Factors, Test Case Design, Detailed Technical Analysis, and more.

Also, Requirements Documents can be of different types for different purposes, such as:

  • Functional Requirements
  • Non-Functional Requirements
  • Performance Requirements
  • Usability Requirements
  • Availability Requirements

Depending on the Project’s requirements, the Product Owner prepares the Requirements Documents for the teams to follow.

So, What’s The Difference Between User Stories & Requirements?

1. Representation of Perspectives:

In general, User Stories represent the perspective of the end users about what additional product features they want to use. 

On the other hand, the Requirements come directly from the business as the final Product Goal. It contains all product features and functionalities that the business wants the development team to work on.

2. Adaptability of Different Methodologies:

User Stories are more commonly used as an Agile methodology in Scrum, Kanban, and more. On the contrary, the Requirements Document exists in traditional waterfall methodology. However, Agile Projects also use Requirements Documents to represent the Product Vision to the team.

3. Nature of Writing:

Most User Stories are written with simpler language that is non-technical and easy to follow. Due to such  light nature of User Stories, they require additional technical documents to promote more discussion and collaboration among the Developers. However, Requirements Documents are well-written using technical terms to clearly explain to the Developers what approach to take to carry out the development activities.

4. Acceptance Criteria:

Each User Story has unique Acceptance Criteria that determine the successful completion of the User Story. However, Requirement Documents don’t have such Acceptance Criteria. Instead, it acts as a guiding document for the Agile Teams to follow. The Developers don’t require to append or modify wordings in the Requirements Documents.

Understanding The Importance of Both:

User Stories and Requirements are quite different from each other. Now you know the primary differences, it’s important to understand the importance of both. Even though a User Story and a Requirements Document involve different approaches, both are equally important to achieve the Product Goal. Agile teams tend to follow User Stories more than Requirements Documents. However, every Agile Project requires a detailed Requirements Document to represent the business goals to the Agile Teams.

Reference:

  1. https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/user-stories-are-needs-described-business-perspective


Author

Paula

Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.