Saturday, January 26, 2008

Working with User Proxies

My short summary of the book User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn.

In the previous post we saw different possibilities how to gather user stories.

The best way to gather user stories is to work with the users of the software to be developed. But sometimes, you are not allowed to communicated with users directly or in the worst case you even do not have users :)

In this case you have to work with user proxies. User proxy is a person that represents user but is not a user. There are different types of user proxies, and can come from different contexts. So user proxy can be:
  • User's manager
  • Development manager
  • Salesperson
  • Domain expert
  • Marketing group
  • Former users
  • Customers
  • Trainers and technical support
  • Business or system analyst
User proxy can help you a lot, but you must be aware that user proxies do not have all necessary knowledge. So for example, user's manager knows something about system but will use only small part of the system. Risk is that you will develop system that will suite perfect to manager but will not be designed well for the real users. Similarly salesperson usually can explain you high level overview very well but can have problems with details. And there are similar kind of problems with all user proxies.

What is very important to remember: When working with user proxy if possible you should try hard to get your way through user proxy to the real user when ever it is possible.

To produce good software that meets user requirements you have to work with users and avoid user proxies when ever possible.

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