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A user story is an atomic requirement that the team works on in an Agile project. As the name suggests, the story describes how the user interacts with the system in order to get his work done.
The 3 alliterated components of the user story (the 3 C’s) are Card, Conversation and Confirmation.
Card is meant to indicate that the story is typically written by hand on an index card about 4 X 6 inches in dimension. The idea behind writing the story on the card is to try and limit the size of each story. When you have to express it in this way, the author of the story has to take efforts to make it less verbose and clearer to the team.
Conversation means that the story should be the starting point of a conversation between the team and the product owner (who typically would write the story). The story should leave the implementation details to the team and have potential to innovate in trying to implement it.
Confirmation means that typically you also need to provide acceptance criteria for the story. Acceptance tests are usually written on the back of the card and helps the team understand how they would know that the work done satisfies the requirement.
Another acronym often used to describe desirable attributes of a story is INVEST. Here, I stands for Independent. The stories should be (as far as possible) independent of each other and deliverable as a unit. N stands for Negotiable. It should leave room for negotiation about the nature of implementation. V stands for Valuable, i.e. it should result in some value for the customer. E stands for Estimable, meaning it should be clear enough that the team can come up with reasonably accurate estimate for the work. S stands for Small. The story should not be so big that it cannot be done within an iteration of work. Scrum for instance requires that a story should require no more than 40 man hours of effort. T stands for testable, meaning it should be possible to test the story for correctness based on the description and success criteria provided.
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