Print your spreadsheet based User Stories

As I’ve mentioned in the past and spoken about at the London Scrum gathering, you should have a physical sprint backlog. The reasons are numerous; from being information radiators, to helping define a team culture. However, managing a large backlog of stories, especially if you have multiple backlogs for multiple projects, does become a challenge when trying to keep this information in a physical space.

Where I am right now, we manage our product backlogs using Google Docs. This works for us as it allows for flexibility when prioritising, we can move from room to room and, means we don’t have a large, messy surface of stories (although, I’m convinced this would help us – watch this space). One thing we do suffer from, is the transition of these stories stored digitally, to stories stored on a sprint backlog physically. Writing the stories by hand does mean there are sometimes further conversations around the stories, which is no bad thing, but it also means that often detail is missed from the cards, which causes problems later. This is due to the stories being written in a shortened form and, unfortunately often, a complete lack of acceptance criteria.

So, because of this, I put on my developers hat and created the Story Printer. This is a simple web-app, which allows you to upload a .CSV file and have it turned into printable story cards. At the moment, it’s very simple, but I’ve a few extra things on the roadmap which will add more useful features. But, for now, it does what it says on the tin.

Using the Story Printer, we now have a sprint backlog, with story cards that are identical to the stories in the backlog. Time will tell whether this prototype will prove useful.

Feel free to use it yourself and please contact me with new features, bugs or other stuff. I’d love to know if you use it, or would find it useful with additional features.

Screen grab of story printer
The Story Printer
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