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Writing significant person tales with the INVEST precept – LogRocket Weblog Get hold of US

In agile software program growth, person tales represent the atomic unit of labor in that they allow each planning and execution. To allow planning, person tales function containers to specific person wants clearly and concisely. To allow execution, person tales are written with business-friendly language to sign technical practitioners to the software program elements they should construct for an entire answer.

There are various methods that agile practitioners use to put in writing efficient person tales, and on this article, we’ll check out a kind of methods — the INVEST precept.

Desk of contents

Understanding person story attributes

It’s common for groups to battle with writing person tales, particularly for groups which might be comparatively new to agile software program growth. A few of the most import attributes of person tales embody the next:

  • Who it’s for — The goal person for the person story (most frequently expressed as a persona or person sort)
  • What it seeks to realize — The objective(s) of the goal person
  • Why it issues — The rationale(s) these person objectives are necessary
  • Easy methods to comprehend it’s full — The types of proof that present the person story has met expectations

A well-liked strategy to write person tales is to begin with the next syntax:

As a [role/persona/user type]
I need [goal or action]
In order that [desired result from goal/action]

For instance, utilizing this syntax, you can write a person story comparable to the next in an insurance coverage or well being care context:

As the first applicant
I need to enter the passcode I obtained from my consultant
In order that I can entry my account and guarantee my declare data is correct

One cause the syntax above is widespread is that it helps groups keep in mind to deal with every of the primary three bullet factors above (the who, what, and why). Groups additionally write acceptance standards as a part of the person story, to ensure it’s clear what “carried out” means for that person story.

What’s INVEST in agile?

Writing person tales utilizing syntax comparable to that described above is useful. Nonetheless, there are different issues which might be necessary for groups to contemplate when writing person tales. Recognizing the necessity for a way to assist groups keep away from widespread pitfalls in agile software program growth, Invoice Wake first articulated the INVEST precept in an Excessive Programming (XP) article in 2003.

INVEST is an acronym to assist groups write high-quality, particular person tales which might be unbiased, negotiable, worthwhile, estimatable, small, and testable. The INVEST precept, due to this fact, is the apply or framework to comply with when creating these person tales:

Breaking down the weather of the INVEST precept

Let’s take a better take a look at every one of many person story attributes related to the INVEST precept.


An unbiased person story is one that’s: 1) conceptually separate from different person tales, and a pair of) not reliant on the completion of different person tales.

The unbiased side is necessary as a result of agile groups search to floor any dependencies that exist and remove them every time potential, and that may’t occur if the person tales depend upon each other’s completion.

For instance, suppose {that a} scrum staff is contemplating engaged on two person tales — we’ll name them A and B — throughout the identical dash. Work on story B can not begin till story A is finished. If story A doesn’t attain completion till the top of the dash (or is unfinished), the staff has put itself able the place the chance of unfinished work is significantly larger. By doing so, the staff has incurred schedule danger.


When a staff approaches a person story as negotiable, it means the story is an “invitation to a dialog.” Because the staff will get extra aware of the story context, extra concepts might emerge, the wording of the story might change, and particulars could also be added.

Agile groups leverage their mixed knowledge to reach at a ok answer to deal with a selected person want, the place “ok” strikes a steadiness between worth (assembly an actual want), price (being a fairly small chunk of labor), and complexity (aligning with the prevailing design/structure).


This one is fairly self explanatory. A accomplished person story has worth when it meets an precise buyer want.

One of many tenets of the Agile Manifesto is working software program over complete documentation, and that assertion helps groups keep in mind to maintain buyer wants prime of thoughts. In a lot the identical approach, completion of every person story must be realized as precise worth supply, even when it’s a tiny change.


An estimatable person story is one that’s properly sufficient understood by staff members to have the ability to decide its relative dimension. In apply, “relative dimension” implies that given a set of person tales, staff members can decide which tales are about the identical dimension (T-shirt sizes comparable to small, medium, and enormous typically function a useful relative sizing assemble.)

It’s necessary to acknowledge that some groups don’t estimate person tales. Thus, being estimatable is synonymous with being fairly near able to work on with out an excessive amount of extra dialog. On groups that do estimate, it additionally means they know sufficient about it to assign a dimension to it.


The S in INVEST stands for small. A small person story is one that may be accomplished throughout a short while window — for instance, no quite a lot of enterprise days.

That is necessary as a result of groups that persistently work on small person tales are way more prone to end tales than groups that battle to maintain their tales small.


A testable person story is one that may be verified to have met the story’s acceptance standards (also called “situations of satisfaction”).

The clearest indication for a staff to know {that a} story is finished is for all of its assessments to move. Consumer tales with obscure or lacking acceptance standards are more likely to floor as high quality issues when within the arms of a buyer.

Making use of INVEST in scrum

With regards to planning, scrum follows a predictable cadence. There’s a product backlog containing a prioritized checklist of person tales for a staff to work on, and, on a recurring foundation, members of the staff make clear person tales and select those to work on for the following dash.

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To do that, they deal with tales which might be at or close to the highest of the product backlog (aka backlog refinement) and select person tales to work on throughout their subsequent dash by inserting chosen tales within the dash backlog (aka dash planning).

By making use of the INVEST precept throughout backlog refinement and dash planning, scrum groups can notice advantages related to every space of INVEST:

  • Unbiased — Choosing solely unbiased tales reduces or eliminates dependencies, which is very necessary in a cross-team context
  • Negotiable — By partnering with the product proprietor and the scrum grasp to refine person tales, builders can get a greater understanding of the work floor different concepts
  • Worthwhile — Asking “is it worthwhile to do that?” for any person story serves as a key prioritization device. It additionally serves as a useful reminder when refining person tales and making choices on which tales to incorporate within the dash backlog
  • Estimatable — The scrum grasp might be particularly useful to the staff by ensuring every individual’s standpoint has been thought-about when discussing and sizing person tales
  • Small — When scrum groups persistently select small tales and solely choose as many tales as they will realistically full throughout a dash, they considerably enhance their possibilities of reaching the dash objective and cut back danger
  • Testable — Persistently articulating clear and concise acceptance standards helps make sure that the work {that a} scrum staff does is of persistently prime quality and meets person expectations

Observe: groups that aren’t working towards scrum may notice advantages by making use of the INVEST precept.

Complementary INVEST ideas

The INVEST rules aligns properly with the next ideas:

  • The Three C’s
  • The DEEP precept

The Three C’s

The Three C’s is an idea first articulated by the agile practitioner and XP co-creator Ron Jeffries in an article in 2001, the place the C’s signify:

  • Card — The preliminary, elemental idea related to a person story (the shortest type of which is the story’s title)
  • Dialog — The dialogue that takes place amongst staff members throughout staff planning periods or on an advert hoc foundation. This results in higher understanding of a person story, typically expressed by way of documentation (the place the documentation is most frequently inside to the person story and will also be exterior to the person story)
  • Affirmation — The purpose at which staff members have a shared understanding of a person story, typically formalized by way of acceptance standards

The INVEST precept aligns particularly properly with the dialog and affirmation components of the Three C’s, since staff understanding is most certainly to be achieved for a person story when every of the six components of INVEST surfaces throughout staff dialog.

The DEEP precept

The DEEP precept additionally works properly in tandem with the INVEST precept. You may apply DEEP to the product backlog as an entire, whereas you should utilize INVEST to totally elaborate particular person person tales within the product backlog.

Thus for any merchandise within the product backlog, a staff can see whether or not every of the next is true:

  • Detailed appropriately — Consumer tales at or close to the highest of the product backlog are articulated at a degree of element the place they’re prepared for the staff to work on with little to no extra dialog, whereas tales additional down the backlog include much less element
  • Estimated — Consumer tales at or close to the highest of the product backlog have been estimated, or are able to being estimated, whereas tales decrease within the backlog are probably not properly sufficient understood to be estimated
  • Emergent — It’s assumed that there’s a means of discovery that happens the place the product backlog adjustments over time. Resulting from product suggestions, adjustments in market situations, technical issues, and different elements, new tales are added and current tales are up to date, deleted, or re-prioritized
  • Prioritized — It’s assumed that a very powerful person tales are at or close to the highest of the product backlog with the caveat that priorities can change over time

Listed here are a few associated ideas which might be particularly necessary to grasp at the side of the DEEP precept and with administration of the product backlog usually:

  • Progressive elaboration — By focusing consideration on person tales at or close to the highest of the product backlog and by NOT spending time on tales which might be additional down within the product backlog, groups are working towards progressive elaboration
  • Trimming the tail — It’s a actuality in nearly each enterprise context that some person tales within the product backlog are NEVER labored on. Trimming the tail implies that you may decide to pivot after delivering solely a subset of the objects within the product backlog

Issues to recollect when making use of the make investments precept

Like so many issues within the agile toolkit, the INVEST precept consists of a set of tips, not a inflexible rule e-book. There are numerous widespread misconceptions and errors to keep away from when making use of the INVEST precept, so listed here are some suggestions to remember:

Things To Remember With The INVEST Principle

You may’t take away all uncertainty

When inspecting and clarifying person tales, some particulars might turn into extra clear solely after growth has began. There isn’t any substitute for ongoing staff communication to ensure everybody stays on the identical web page.

Many attributes of person tales are subjective

For instance, it may be difficult when writing person tales to make the story’s enterprise worth obvious. Involving a number of members of the staff when writing and clarifying tales helps make sure that the enterprise intent and the anticipated enterprise profit are as clear as potential.

Perfection is neither fascinating nor potential

When articulating person tales, there’s a high quality line between “ok” and “excessive.” As an illustration, a typical anti-pattern when estimating is to spend so much of time debating the dimensions of a selected person story.


The INVEST precept has stood the take a look at of time, by persevering with to be widespread amongst agile practitioners, each as a coaching device, and in precise apply. By remembering to guage whether or not every story is unbiased, negotiable, worthwhile, estimatable, small, and testable, you can also enhance staff alignment and improve your potential to ship software program that clients love.

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Writing significant person tales with the INVEST precept - LogRocket Weblog Get hold of US Obtain US

LogRocket identifies friction factors within the person expertise so you can also make knowledgeable choices about product and design adjustments that should occur to hit your objectives.

With LogRocket, you may understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the adjustments that should be made. LogRocket simplifies workflows by permitting Engineering and Design groups to work from the same data as you, eliminating any confusion about what must be carried out.

Get your groups on the identical web page — attempt in the present day.

Writing significant person tales with the INVEST precept - LogRocket Weblog Get hold of US Obtain US

Philip Rogers
Phil began his profession as an Air Pressure Officer within the Nineteen Eighties, and has since labored with private- and public-sector organizations, in addition to not-for-profits, in program and mission administration and DevOps. He is a digital imaging specialist on the Smithsonian, enjoys stay music, and is a theatre, movie, biking, mountaineering, and swimming fanatic.

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