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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Zero Point User Stories

Recently, with a few clients, I have suggested that they put user stories in their backlogs with zero points. These stories identify work that is being done, but does not add value for the end user. People have used zero point stories in the past to identify some unit of work that was very small. But I'm seeing another angle...

I'm doing this is because if we look at the points that we typically put on a story, we primarily are doing it to identify the relative size. However, I have seen a lot of stories for things like defect fixing (when the team has not conquered the zero defect concept yet), or supporting an audit for ISO or CMMI. By having the stories in the backlog, we make sure the work is visible, by giving it zero points we make sure that that work is not showing as "value points for an end-user".

Before trying this, I was having teams reserve hours in their capacity for things like this and that worked fine. This just makes it a little easier and stops us from counting non-value add work in velocity. Seems to be working great! Give it a try...

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