Two people collaborating on user stories during a Microsoft Office 365 consulting session

What are User Stories? 

A user story is an informal, natural language description of one or more features of a software system. User stories help software teams understand the context of an IT system, as well as uncovering opportunities to improve business processes. Software teams often write user stories from the perspective of an end user or user of a system. 

At WSC, we create user stories as part of our Microsoft Office 365 discovery service. Interviewing your staff members gives us information to suggest how to update your O365 tenants to make your business processes more pleasant and productive. 

Choosing the users for user stories 

For our discovery process, we interview ten employees from stakeholders across your organization’s hierarchy and departments. We might talk to users, managers or development team members. The wider a range of people we talk to, the better the insight we get into your systems. 

When choosing user interview subjects, ask yourself: 

  • What are the systems I want to replace, update, or modify? Think long-term, not just the immediate project or project phase. 
  • Who manages this process? 
  • Who inputs data into the process? 
  • Who reviews or takes action based on this data? 

Loop through these roles for each process to be touched by the project. The goal of the exercise is to learn what’s stopping people from using your existing processes and to gather enough information to design and implement a solution that solves the root issues. Done right, the solution turns using technology in business processes from a frustrating, confusing, ambiguous process to one that feels simple, intuitive, and useful.  

What user stories do in Office 365 consulting 

At Wellington Street Consulting, we use user stories to discover broader technology trends at your organization. User stories help us find out which of your processes are efficient and which need fixing – and, crucially, they show us which processes and pieces of your tech stack your employees love, and which they’re struggling with. User stories heavily inform our discovery service, so our discovery report includes copies of our interviews and points out the most relevant comments from the people we interviewed. 

The logistics of user stories 

Performing an effective user story interview requires both technical skills and soft skills. At WSC, we’re O365 experts, but we’re also active listeners who bring empathy and understanding to our interviews. 

Because user story interviews are so interpersonal, and so adapted to the specific user we’re interviewing, we need to see the user’s face during the interview. When we can, we conduct user story interviews in person. We’re always traveling around greater Boston for user interviews. Video calls are a popular choice for interviews too, and let us work with remote teams and companies around the country.