If you really want to sell a product to a customer, you need to convince them of why it is important in their daily life or business. That means that you need to speak to their wants, needs and desires.
In the world of software, this can be done through something called a "ticket." To put it plainly, a ticket tells a story to a potential client. But a ticket can also be used to help a team behind the scenes understand a system, its goals and other context related to it. While typically written for the customers and from their point of view, a user story will also inform the developers, engineers and team that come together to deliver a product.
A ticket is a user story that can teach others about how a specific product will bring value, peace of mind and, frankly, success.
Success In The Story
It is vital to always remember that a user story should strive to be informal. It should be free of formal, confusing, technical jargon that will only turn people away or make them feel overwhelmed or disconnected. They need to be short, concise and able to quickly lay out what a customer wants.
As you can imagine, a ticket isn’t going to do any good if it isn’t made well. A lot has to be considered when a ticket is being created. It needs to plainly state the product value, for starters. But it needs to do so in a very human, relatable way. Remember that no one likes the feeling of being sold to, so a ticket needs to take the selling process and convert it into something that feels comfortable and personable.
Investing In INVEST
The ticket-writing process can be confounding if it isn’t done correctly. But through the INVEST process, a principle created by Bill Wake, a lot of confusion will be alleviated. This is a proven blueprint to help a company craft a ticket that is told from the user’s perspective and can turn a normal product release into something truly special.
INVEST can help a company highlight the very important features that a good ticket should have.
When you break it down, you see just how much value can be packed into every user story. These are the features that help a ticket rise above the rest.
Independent: The I in INVEST stands for independent. It is essentially the idea that a ticket is a brand new story, one that should be free of any connections or constraints to other stories. It should be self-determining and stand on its own in order to avoid planning issues or making them dependent on others.
Negotiable: Adjustments are the key to every successful product and every successful ticket, too. A promising ticket should be negotiable, and if needed, changes should be made by engineers or other workers.
Negotiable also means that open communication should exist between customers and developers as well. The more they communicate, the more adjustments can be made and, ultimately, the better the final product will be.
Valuable: Here is perhaps one of the most important features of the INVEST ticket-writing process. It needs to prove value to the user and their business. Why is it so important? Why is this product worth their time and hard-earned money? If you can’t prove value, you cannot sell a product.
If the team cannot find any value in a feature, they should consider getting rid of it. If it doesn’t have value, it doesn’t belong.
Estimable: You need to know the size of what you’re dealing with, especially when you are on a time crunch and attempting to make an impact user story for a client. Therefore, your story or ticket should be estimable.
You should be well aware of the timetable you’re on and should have an idea of how much time it’ll take to craft, develop, alter and complete your ticket. Time is of the essence, and if you’re not able to formulate reliable expectations for how long the ticket-writing process will take, this is an indication of other problems.
Small: Some people believe bigger is always better, but that isn’t the truth. Sometimes there is more power in smaller packages. When it comes to ticket writing, the INVEST process emphasizes going small when you can. Not only will this allow you to complete the ticket in a shorter amount of time, but it’ll also ensure that your user story can be defined by another word: simple.
The simpler a ticket is, the better and easier it is to sell to potential clients and team members. It allows for easy tracking of development, addresses delays with speed and eliminates many unnecessary conversations.
Testable: You can’t say that a ticket is done until it’s been tested and proven to work. With this part of INVEST, engineers and every part of the team will be able to really know when their work is done—and when things need to be worked on.
It's important to remember that while each step in the INVEST process is crucial, they don’t always follow one directly after another. There will be times when a development team spends more time focusing on making a ticket small than making it testable. Or perhaps they will have to work harder to show value than make it independent.
Overall, a ticket or user story is a way to pitch a product to customers in a very informal, relatable and concise way. It is all about reading the needs of a client and working through a process to cut out all the fat, eliminate anything unnecessary and tell people why they will benefit from trusting a development team and their software.