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User story prioritization – NextGen
User story prioritization – NextGen

Learn how to prioritize user stories and how prioritization can support your projects.

Tamás Párványik avatar
Written by Tamás Párványik
Updated over a week ago


User story prioritization

Prioritizing user stories is an unavoidable and a vital process in any product development activity. Product teams must identify and organize user needs while they also consider the order how they addressing them. Prioritizing user stories provides benefits for the entire team. It help teams to focus on delivering the most valuable features and functionalities to users while balancing business objectives and technical feasibility.

Why should you prioritize user stories

  • to ensure that the most important user needs will be delivered first

  • to get a better overview of business values of user stories

  • to focus on features and functionalities that can positively influence your ROI

  • to increase collaboration between team members and stakeholders to align product vision and goals

  • to manage complexity by breaking down the product into smaller, manageable pieces making it easier to plan, estimate, and track progress

  • to keep up with the ever-changing user needs, market changes and feedbacks

How to prioritize user stories on StoriesOnBoard

  1. Discover project goals and define the issue

  2. Get to know the target audience and define user personas

  3. Map user goals and the related activities

  4. Break down each activity into user stories

  5. Map user journeys and identify gaps

  6. Rank user stories by importance on the story map

  7. Identify priority, business value, and effort of each user stories

  8. Prepare for sprints and releases

Step-by-step user story prioritization

Discover project goals and define the issue

What job or issue does your product address for your customers? Prioritizing the user activities is essential to ensuring that all the work that follows is aligned with that aim. Even if teams are working on new features for an existing product, user story mapping work is vital. Thinking about products from the perspective of the user may be facilitated by using the user story format.

Get to know the target audience and define user personas

You should also be asking ‘Who are you trying to reach with your product?’ There are probably several different target audiences. Your product can be used in a variety of ways by a variety of people. With the use of user personas, teams create stories from a perspective that is consistent with their target audience. It also prevents you from wasting time on scenarios that don’t meet your audience’s needs.

💡 Tip - Learn more about How to create and manage user personas

Map user goals and related activities

Every time a consumer interacts with a product, they are likely to do so in a similar way. The user story map is built on these activities, which are also known as themes or functions. E-commerce products may allow users to search for things for sale, see items in a certain category and add them to a shopping cart. They may also wish to purchase the items they have selected. So, what the user takes into consideration will influence the story maps to be broken down into smaller user stories.

The following example shows the product backbone including user goals and user activities or steps that users need to take to reach their goals.

Break down each activity into user stories

Manage complexity by breaking down activities into smaller, manageable pieces. In this step write user stories and place them under the activities. Rank user stories by importance on the story map. User stories which are placed higher in their column will have higher priority.

Identify priority, business value, and effort of each user stories

You can take prioritization further with StoriesOnBoard in planning and assign priority, business value and effort to each user story. This will help the team to be more focused on critical stories and plan more accurately what should be delivered first to satisfy user needs and also represent value in ROI.

Prepare for sprints and releases

Once each of the user stories are prioritized, the next step is to plan product releases and organize user stories into these releases based on priority and delivered value. The very first release usually called Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This contains all user stories that can deliver an immediate value to users who can start solving a problem with a working software from the very first moment.

💡 Tip - Learn more about How to create and manage releases

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