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Story Kickoffs

Today I wanted to write about another agile technique called story kickoff. Story kickoff focuses on verifaction through a checklist that confirms that analysis on that particular story has reached a point where its ready for development. Another common problem we have seen on different teams is that the developers may have made some assumptions but not share or verify with the analysts. Having this initial chat allows sharing concepts and objectives without overlooking the important details of the feature at hand. It adds context into the story from the point of view of people in different roles and not just the analyst. This conversation stays within only the context of the particular user story at hand.

Participants: Developer, BA, QA, Other interested parties (Tech lead, Product Owner etc.)

Time spent: Should take about 15-20 mins per story

Initiated by: Developer when she is ready to pick up new story


  • Is the analysis for the story done?
  • Does story contains clear acceptance criterias?
  • What should the desk check checklist include?
  • Is the value of the story understood?
  • What are the related dependencies?
  • Is there a technical debt related to the story?
  • Is the story size ok?
  • What assumptions devs can make when they start out?
  • What is out of scope of the story?

I want to mention again that this checklist is not rigid and should change based on the team and project needs. Usually, project leaders (Dev, QA, and Product) come up with this list during one of the earlier iterations and constantly improve it as the project matures.

How does Desk Check help?

  • Its the technique to prevent defects and minimize feedback loop.
  • It also promotes communication between team members with various roles.
  • It will help bring out smells such as unclear acceptance criteria, large story, missed assumptions etc.
  • It help reduce duration of long story grooming sessions during sprint planning.
  • As the team will discuss Acceptance criteria over these desk checks it will promote ubiquitos language

Kick off combined with desk check is powerful tool to improve overall team communication and to prevent story bounce backs due to defects.

Thank you!

– Lav