Does Your Hardware Have a Story?

In agile software development, “stories” are used to describe necessary functional capabilities for each type of user and how each story teller would use the software application. You can use the same concept of “stories” in hardware development. There are a number of questions hardware stories could ask and help you answer.


  • Who will be using your hardware? (And are you designing hardware to fit their needs, such as robustness for soldiers in the field or ADA compliance for the elderly using devices to reduce their need for manual labor?)
  • How will they use your hardware? (And is your hardware designed to fit their expected usage? If they are used to one set of controls or order of operations, does the new hardware fit that pattern?)
  • Do the conceptual drawings look like something the customer would want or need? Does the device have all of the functions users need, without each option getting in the way of the other?
  • Do your shop floor personnel think they can build it? Do the manufacturing engineers think they can build it for an affordable price? Does reliability see parts that are prone to failure?
  • What do users expect to do with the hardware? (Will it operate in the environments they need?) You need user stories for your hardware as well as your software.
  • How will users acquire the hardware? (Are you offering the product through channels customers expect to use?)
  • How will they troubleshoot problems with the hardware? (Does your user manual come with the product? Better yet, is their online advice that will come up when they search for problems on your device?)
  • What will they do with the hardware when it has problems?  (Will they get help with the hardware when they take it to the vendor or a nearby repair shop? Can users figure out where to take it for recycling or properly dispose of it?)