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What Does Agile INVEST Stand For?

Agile INVEST is an acronym that helps Agile teams assess the quality of a user story. Teams can use INVEST as a guide to creating meaningful user stories — if the story does not meet one or more of the INVEST criteria in Agile, teams may consider rewording or even rewriting it altogether.

 INVEST stands for:

  • Independent
  • Negotiable
  • Valuable
  • Estimable
  • Small
  • Testable

 Let’s look at user stories and what each of the Agile INVEST criteria means in detail.

What is a user story?

Let’s begin by explaining what user stories are. A user story is an informal description of a feature written from the perspective of the prospective user. Its purpose is to contextualize how a particular feature will provide value to the customer.

User stories are not overly detailed or written with much jargon or technical language. They are short and concise, simply laying out what the customer wants from the feature in question and how they can use it to that end.

What are the Agile INVEST criteria?

Using the Agile INVEST method, teams can create the most effective user stories possible using a simple step-by-step approach. Let’s look at each one in detail. 

  • Independent: As much as possible, user stories should remain independent of each other in an Agile environment. This is to avoid prioritization and planning issues that may arise from having too many user stories in the same area that are dependent on each other. If one needs to be reassessed, this can have a domino effect on the rest of its dependent user stories. It is better to keep user stories as self-contained as possible. 


  • Negotiable: User stories should encourage collaboration between customers and developers. They are not a closed contract and should be open to adjustment as necessary.


  • Valuable: The leading priority of an Agile user story is to demonstrate how a feature provides value to the user. If, when writing a user story, the team cannot find any statement of value for the feature, they should consider whether the feature is necessary. 


  • Estimable: Developers need to know exactly what is involved in creating a feature. User stories should be clearly defined and understandable to developers so that they can be divided into individual tasks and planned effectively. 


  • Small: User stories should not be long, overly detailed documents. They are short, concise, and easy to understand. They should not be so big as to become impossible to plan for and, as a rule of thumb, should be achievable within 40 hours of work. 


  • Testable: User stories should be testable to confirm whether they are complete. They should include clear, actionable criteria that a feature can be measured against — “the customer service bot responds within five seconds 95% of the time” rather than “the bot is quick to respond.”

For more on user stories, including examples of effective stories and a step-by-step guide to creating your own, check out our dedicated section here.