Chicken and Egg

Managing dependencies is another tricky issue that plagues agile business analysts. Fortunately it’s not as bad as the chicken and egg problem. The secret to successfully solving dependency problems is to start at the beginning… Well maybe an example will help.

Let’s consider a system that sells books online. The roles which will interact with this system, will be
– the buyer
– user registration
– the administrator
– the sales team and
– the warehouse manager.

The most important entity in this system in undoubtedly the book.

Starting to write stories for creating a book is an obvious start for anyone. Now this is where the situation gets tricky. If all your initial stories are going to be related to books, they are inevitably going to be dependent on each other. For example :
View book details depends on Listing books which depends on Create book

Writing such stories doesn’t make sense from a tactical perspective when we are doing iterative development because we can’t develop such stories in parallel.

Instead if we decide to write a Create Book and a Register User story, we are suddenly in business. What this means is that we can start separate areas in the application simultaneously.

Sometimes however things are not as simple as that. There are various restrictions which can lead an analyst to write stories in the same area. What will typically happen is the analyst will write Create Book, List Book and View Book Details stories and get them played with valid assumptions and dummy data. The analyst has thus created independent stories… The consequence is the cost of integrating these pieces together.

There are several points in the application where everything comes together to form a complete picture. Integration of separate stories into a logical area and separate areas into a seamless solution is inevitable. What we need to understand is that reducing these integration points is optimal in terms of overheads.

Thus an analyst needs to take a call in consultation with the developers about finding v/s creating independent stories. Finding them is however definitly advisable.

If I were write user stories for evolution I think I would have developed the Chicken and the Egg seperately and integrated them in the end. Probably that’s how it was done anyways!!!

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