Agile Blueprint for Success: Writing Effective User Stories for Technical Communicators

Technical communicators are often called upon to support multiple development teams; it’s rare for every team to have a dedicated TC. To deal with this, writers on a high-functioning TC team need to be able to take on stories for sometimes unfamiliar products and technologies, avoiding silos of expertise in favor of flexibility.
Inadequate user story writing leads to confusion and delays work completion. Well-written user stories help TC teams achieve that flexibility, manage scope, and get work done more quickly. Agile provides an excellent framework for writing user stories, but user stories for tech comm require a different approach than traditional developer user stories.

When we started using agile, our early user stories were basic descriptions of what the writer needed to do, often reiterating the stakeholder’s request but not providing sufficient clarity or background for implementation. For example, a typical release notes user story might have been Write release notes for Product A. As the technical communications scrum master, I guided our team on how to create an effective user story. Over the course of several months and several iterations we came up with techniques for writing user stories that include clear acceptance criteria, name the subject matter experts, give appropriate background information, and provide implementation notes if needed.

What can the audience expect to learn?

Attendees will take away a proven blueprint for good TC user stories and will learn how good stories can improve their agile practice.

Meet the presenter

Mary Dickens is a technical writer and scrum master for the technical communications team at Cengage. She has a B.A. in English with Professional Writing emphasis and a M.A. in Professional Communication and Usability.

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