For a profession that aims to create clarity for users, the use of similar sounding terms scenarios, user stories and use cases in product management is a bit misguided wouldn’t you agree?
Scenarios Vs User Stories Vs Use Cases
It’s like the Bermuda Triangle ……someone always gets lost arguing the difference scenarios, user stories and use cases in product management meetings. I’ve read numerous product management books that can’t keep this straight either.
Despite the confusion resulting from the similarity in name, each term has both a different deliverable and intended audience, so the structure and information contained in the three approaches also varies.
Let’s lay them out clearly shall we:
Scenarios: Ideally, created by user researchers to help communicate with the design team. In many cases, they are probably created by product managers
User stories: Created by product managers to define the requirements prior to a sprint in agile development.
Use Cases: Created by product managers for developers to further refine functionality and serve as the basis for acceptance testing/quality assurance.
The Role of Scenarios in Product Management
Scenarios add context to the user personas in product management to life so designers can role play when making design decisions. Scenarios capture the goals, motivations, and tasks of a persona and typically include:
- Pictures of the persona
- The context
The Role of User Stories in Product Management
Created at the start of a development sprint, user stories are brief statements regarding the requirements of the system.
Although the format varies from organization to organization, the user story format is usually along these lines:
“As a , I <<want/need>> <<goal/desire>> so that <>.”
Using “need” versus “want” indicates if a requirement is hard and fast or a “nice to have” when developing the system.
The Role of Use Cases in Product Management
A use case outlines the steps for interacting with the designed system in order to achieve a goal.
A developer should be able to read each step of user case, understand the reason why a user is interacting with the system and how they system should respond to the users. Use case should also include process/flow charts and branching logic to show different outcomes based on user actions as some steps my get skipped depending on previous user actions.
comparing scenarios, user stories and use cases
Much like how some people try to convince you that Prosecco, Cava and Champagne are all the same thing, some people will try to do the same with scenarios, user stories, and user cases in product management (and even using them interchangeably to subvert and confuse you), make sure everyone on the product and development teams understands the different deliverables associated with each action item.