A common challenge when the PO present stories to the team…
Sometimes you happen to join a meeting with a PO who present “stories” to the team, the PO have not created Story DoD for all (or any) stories and do not know details about them.
The PO then asks the team, “How long time do you think it will take to implement this”?
The team will then try to get a better understanding of the story, what I often see is that the PO does not know enough “details” about the story – there are in principle 2 cases:
1. We have a real customer – who request things, the customer decide and can be consulted
2. PO is creating something new and will deliver this to potential customers – i.e. the case when we create features for mobile phones or SW for sale
We cannot expect the PO to know everything, but the PO is representing the customer, so the PO is responsible for driving the story DoD, there is a couple of ways to mitigate the challenges
1. The PO meet with the customer, bring along an architect (or senior team member) and discuss the details with the customer, the PO and architect have probably had a meeting before to discuss what they need request from the customer – after this, they can come to the team and ask them to estimate…
2. The PO meet with an interaction designer and architect (or senior team member) and identify what is unclear – together they can come a long way in describing the story DoD and be well prepared before they take time from the team…
There is a 3. Scenario – when you have a PO with high technical skills, they are sometimes able to collect and describe most of the story DoD themselves, without support from architects, interaction designers etc. – and they can often make decisions on the spot without consulting anyone.It is a good idea to have a large post-it (I use super sticky from 3M, 200mmx149mm) with each story before you as a PO meet with either the team, the Architect or others – and then update the post-it with all the discussions you have, i.e. layout, screen size, how to verify etc. – any picture is a great help for the team, it makes things much easier to understand….
The most important thing is that the PO understands, that the PO is responsibile of driving the story DoD, it may not be the PO who write the DoD, but the PO is the voice of the customer, so the PO must secure that the story is created according to the customers’ expectations.
Experienced PO are usually better prepared, they know what the team want to know and prepare most of it up-front, to keep the meeting with the team at a minimum.
And when it comes to Story DoD – I sometimes get the response from the PO : “But creating story DoD takes way too much time” – I can only say that if the PO do not believe that writing a story DoD (max. ½ hour, often less for experienced PO) is worth the time, but the PO expect the team to use 10-20 hours to implement it – then there is probably something wrong in the way that the company prioritize the PO’s time.And as always – just in time – i.e. the PO should secure that there is enough info for each story when the team need to estimate it (i.e. poker planning), it is usually not a good idea to use time to create stories with detailed DoD for coming 6 month – a backlog should contain the stories for the coming sprints (we use 16 weeks, 8 with story DoD and remaining 8 with fairly detailed stories) and epics (high level stories) for requirements after this.