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What is a Stakeholder Story and how does it compare to a User Story?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 9337 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Use Cases, Agile Methods, Elicitation (BABOK KA)


A User Story is perhaps the most widely used Agile technique. It is used to capture product and system requirements from the perspective of the user. Is it the fundamental building block of the Product Backlog.

Most user stories follow a standard pattern:  As a <role> I want <something> so that <benefit>.

Here are a few examples for a job board website and company:

  • As a job seeker I want to post my resume so that recruiters and employers can search and find it.
  • As a job seeker I want to search for jobs so that I can find positions for which I'm a good fit.
  • As a job seeker I want to electronically submit my resume for jobs I like so that I increase the chances of receiving an interview.
This pattern does a great job of capturing the essential components of the users' requirements in a fairly natural manner. User stories also encourage conversation between the one who wants the feature and the team who will design and incorporate it. Through the conversation additional details of the requirement will come to light and test cases can be documented and later used to confirm the requirement has been incorporated correctly.  

However, many teams employ user stories to document requirements that aren't truly user driven. Consider the following user story from the perspective of the job seeker used in the example above: 

  • As a job seeker I want to see advertisements so that I can be alerted to other career services. 
It's pretty tough to argue that a user of the website actually wants to see advertisements.  This user story just doesn't feel right, does it?  However, this may be a very important requirement for other stakeholders of the website. This leads us to the concept of stakeholder stories and the importance of them.  We can rewrite the requirement to be:

  • As the Marketing Manager I want to display advertisements for our company's other career services so that we can cross-sell our services to job seekers. 
The marketing manager may never be a user of the website but the need is just as important in order to achieve the company's goals. 

You can easily imagine other (non-user) stakeholder stories that might originate from other areas of the business. Stakeholder stories provide the benefit of expanding our requirements scope beyond just users of the product or system while maintaining the connection and traceability to the true source of the need. 


Chris Adams
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