Write Stories, Not Requirements

By Deane Barker on August 8, 2009

Trends: Thinking beyond the RFP: This discussion of RFPs by Kas Thomas (otherwise known as “the guy who took my job”), provides fantastic advice on writing RFPs – don’t write requirements, write the beginning of stories and invite the vendor to finish them for you.

[…] write a user narrative or concrete scenario for every one of your key requirements, and demand a narrative answer in response. For example, rather than ask whether a product natively supports delegation of authority in workflows, compose a concrete user narrative.

“Cathy, the Managing Editor, has the necessary rights to designate authors for stories and reassign stories from one author to another in her department. Cathy will be traveling frequently on business, and in her absence she wants her assistant, Bill, who does not have Managing Editor rights, to be able to assign and reassign stories in her stead. Describe the steps that Cathy would need to carry out before she goes on vacation, including any GUI features Cathy would use, to delegate the necessary authority to Bill for a period of N days. Describe any administrator or developer interventions that might be necessary. Describe what actions Bill will have to take in order to act as Cathy’s proxy.”

What This Links To


  1. Dude. Thank you so much for the kind words. You’re very kind. How am I “the guy who took your job,” though? My gosh, I don’t like to take things from people. Especially their jobs.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Great, you re-invented use-cases.

    Trust me — read even one CMS RFP and you’ll understand that people who write them have zero idea what a “use case” is. “Story” is something they can grasp.

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