The User Stories Lifecycle Explained

The User Stories Lifecycle Explained
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User stories are concise and clear descriptions of features or functionality, written from the perspective of the end user. They provide the development team with crucial insight into what needs to be delivered and why. To facilitate testing and implementation, user stories are broken down into smaller tasks known as acceptance criteria.

Step 1: User Story Identification

The first step in the user story lifecycle is to identify user stories. By identifying key goals and features, we can prioritise user stories based on their importance and contribution to achieving those goals. Tools such as UserForge, Xtensio and UserBit can be used to create user personas to help identify user stories. Exercises such as customer interviews or stakeholder sessions can also be useful at this stage.

Step 2: Elaboration and design phase

Once the user stories have been identified, we refine them by adding more detail and sketching mock-ups. We use design thinking sessions to brainstorm ideas and explore different design possibilities. Once the designs are finalised, we can use software such as Balsamiq, Sketch, or penpot to create mock-ups that visually represent the end product. Tools such as Jira and Trello can help manage these user stories and their details.

Step 3: Refine the user story

The refinement stage involves adding additional detail, particularly in the form of acceptance criteria. Acceptance criteria outline the specific conditions a user story must meet to be considered complete. Backlog management tools such as Jira or Targetprocess can help with this process. Holding regular refinement meetings and backlog grooming sessions are critical exercises to ensure the constant refinement of user stories.

Step 4: Prioritisation and completion status

Prioritising user stories determines the order in which they will be developed. Prioritisation frameworks such as MoSCoW (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won't have) or RICE (Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort) can be used. Tools such as Airfocus or Aha! can help to prioritise user stories. Regular review and prioritisation meetings ensure alignment with business goals.


The user story lifecycle consists of four main stages: identification, elaboration and design, refinement and prioritisation. Following this lifecycle, combined with the strategic use of various tools and exercises, enables project teams to manage the development process and ensure alignment with business needs and objectives. User Stories provide a solid framework for agile project development and foster efficient collaboration between team members.

Here at agilemind consulting, this process is ingrained in our approach to project and product management. Our team is always ready to bring our expertise to your projects, ensuring that each user story aligns with your business goals and contributes to a successful product. It is simply part of the way we work with our partners to deliver great results.