Skip to content Product Ownership Blog Series, Part 4: Getting Familiar with User Stories and Job Stories

Product Ownership Blog Series, Part 4: Getting Familiar with User Stories and Job Stories  

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As a Product Owner, you’ll need to understand User Stories and Job Stories. Read more here. 


In the IIBA four-part Product Ownership blog series, we are diving deep into some techniques Product Owners can use to add value to an Agile team and promote better project outcomes. So far we have covered topics such as: 

  • Impact Mapping 
  • Product Roadmaps 
  • Value Stream Mapping 
  • Collaborative Games 
  • User Story Mapping 
  • Minimum Viable Product  
  • Story Decomposition 
  • Behavior-Driven Development 

Read more about these techniques in Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of the Product Ownership blog series. This is Part Four in the series, and it covers User Stories and Job Stories. Read on to what these tools are, how to use them, and how to avoid common pitfalls related to them.

User Stories Are Simple and Powerful for Agile Teams

Are you familiar with User Stories? They are a representation of customer needs. A User Story is often expressed as a small, concise statement of a feature needed to deliver value. A Product Owner should implement a User Story when describing value to deliver. User Stories are important because they keep the Agile team’s focus on customer value, they are simple to learn, and they promote conversation among team members. There are a few things Product Owners should keep in mind about User Stories:  

-- User Stories can be so simple that they can sometimes be deceptive. To counter this, there must be diligence about value discussion.  

-- User Stories almost always should supplement with other models of analysis.  

It’s vital that User Stories describe actual Users. Product Owners should ask “why” when creating a User Story. For example, a User Story, according to Midgley and Serra, might look something like this:  

“As a Claims Supervisor, I want to access payment permissions so that I can know which reps on my teams are authorized to make digital payments.” 

Do you see how simple a User Story is, and how it might be helpful to your Agile team? You can learn more about User Stories in Fifty Quick Ideas to Improve Your User Stories, by Gojko Adzic. User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product, by Jeff Patton, is another great resource.   

What Are Job Stories and Why are They Valuable? 

Another tool Product Owners should implement when needed is a Job Story. Like User Stories, Job Stories are simple yet very helpful. They represent a backlog item or requirement in terms of jobs to be done. “Job Stories shift emphasis from who is doing a story to when the story is happening,” explained Mountain Goat Software.1  

Job Stories are to be used when an Agile team is attempting to describe value to deliver at any level of detail. Job Stories are valuable because:  

  • They focus on motivation, which often include anxieties and struggles, and customer needs.  
  • They can pair with User Stories. Remember, a Job Story has to do with motivation and outcome, and a User Story has features that address problems.  

Product Owners and their teams should be aware that Job Stories have a tendency to get verbose, and the jobs described can appear to be unrealistically easy.  

There is so much to learn about the value of Job Stories and how to create them. Discover more about Job Stories in Mike Cohn’s blog, and Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, by Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan. 

What Are Your Favorite Techniques for Product Owners? 

As a prospective or current Product Owner, Agile tools such as User Stories and Job stories can help you do your job more effectively. What techniques do you and your Agile team implement most often? What techniques would you like to learn more about?  

Don’t miss Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of our IIBA Product Ownership blog series to find information about additional techniques that will contribute to your success as a Product Owner. 


Ready to uncover the proven skills and competencies that can give you the advantage  in Product Ownership?

Download a FREE copy of the Introduction to Product Ownership Analysis.

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About The Author:
Emily Midgley

Emily Midgley is the President of the Cleveland Chapter of IIBA and has 13 years of business analysis experience in the insurance industry. She led business analysis for programs to implement leading-edge technology like big data and mobile apps. As an Agile coach, Emily brings BA practices to product managers and product owners throughout the enterprise to increase focus on customer value.


1. Job Stories shift emphasis from who is doing a story to when the story is happening