What's the officially correct time to mark a user story "complete"?

January 24, 2022
User stories exist to serve you, not the other way around.

Someone recently said to me:

A user story obviously isn’t done until you have a complete functionality.

Which I pushed back against a little. I don’t think this is obvious. Or necessarily even true. There are many ways to write and use user stories. There’s no rule that every user story results in a complete, user-visible feature change.

As an extreme example, imagine you’re building a new 6-month-long feature (for the sake of argument, let’s pretend this isn’t insane, and against everything we Agile practitioners believe). At the end of our 6-month project, the feature is put into production… behind a feature flag.

Would we consider that story “done”? I don’t actually know. Since there aren’t rules. And that’s the point…

User stories exist to serve you (and ultimately the customer), not the other way around!

If you find that user stories assist you and your team in responding to changing requirements, and serving customers, then use them, and use them in a way that helps you achieve these goals. Don’t worry. The User Story Police won’t come by and tell you that you’re doing it wrong!

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