Improvement Stories: a simple alternative to User Stories

You are the Product Owner for a Scrum Team. Your team has just released a brilliant feature they have been working on for months: Change History. Change history allows to track who made what changes to users. Everybody is excited and happy the feature will be finally shipped.

Users love the new feature, but they immediately provide feedback. After the feature is released, you end up with a list of 10 small improvements you want your team to work on.

Translating the list of improvements to User Stories

You start writing User Stories, but boy is it a lot of effort. It is difficult to write clear User Stories for these changes. The improvements seem so small and simple, why is it so hard to capture them in User Stories? You also get the feeling that you are repeating yourself. After all, you already have great User Stories for the features these improvements belong to.

For example, you notice the user change history overview takes about 10 seconds to load, so you start writing a User Story:

As an administrator, I want the change history overview to load quicker, so that I have less waiting time.

You also notice there is no hover state on the filter row of change history, even though this violates UI guidelines. You try to capture this in the following User Story:

As an administrator, I want the filter row of change history to have a hover state, so the affordance is clearer.

2 User Stories down, 8 more to go. Using User Stories does not feel natural at all. Is there a better way to write these User Stories?

Enter Improvement Stories. Improvement Stories are great for small improvements. You already have User Stories that explain the context really well. You just want to make some small improvements. The User Stories describe the problem you are solving for what user. You just want to make some small tweaks. So you just link the Improvement Stories to your existing User Stories. Now you and your team can easily access the context of the existing User Stories if necessary for deeper understanding. The Improvement Stories get to remain small.

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10 Technologies That Will Disrupt Financial Services In The Next 5 Years

The scope and speed of evolution in regulation, customer behavior and technology – coupled with the emergence of new competitors – mean that the future of banking will not be a continuation of the past. New technologies will transform banking as we know it, providing both opportunities and challenges for financial institutions.

A decade after the financial crisis, the near-collapse of the economic system is fading from memory. But, while the banking industry has largely recovered from a financial perspective, there are storm clouds on the horizon. While capitalization has improved significantly, revenue growth has become more challenging with the strategy of cutting costs having run its course. At the same time, banks and credit unions are playing catch up from a technology perspective at a time when consumer expectations are increasing exponentially.

Making the banking business even more difficult, smaller fintech and large techfin companies are developing solutions that use insight and digital technology to improve the customer experience across product lines. These new competitors threaten legacy financial institutions of all sizes. According to various consultancies, new players could capture up to a third of incumbent banks’ revenues in the next 2-3 years. Failing to respond could lead to the demise of less agile organizations.

The good news is that many of the new technologies that are threatening the banking industry also present significant opportunities. In fact, those organizations that can leverage big data, advanced analytics and new technologies to improve the customer experience can build trust, loyalty and revenues that are the keys to success in the future. According to Dan Cohen, Senior Vice President, Global Financial Services and Insurance at Atos, “Banks are at a crossroads. Continuous finTech innovation and new technologies such as blockchain are disrupting the market. While it creates threats, it also opens multiple opportunities for financial services to reinvent themselves and thrive.”

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