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Impact of the conceptual model’s representation format on identifying and understanding user stories

28.10.2019Comments are closed.


  • Marina Trkman, IJS,
  • Jan Mendling, WU,
  • Marjan Krisper, UL FRI,
  • Peter Trkman, SEB LU


One of the critical issues in software development is the list of requirements: the needs of the system’s users have to be identified. Agile software development uses user stories to capture a description of a software feature from an end-user perspective. User stories are presented in a template such as “I as a <role> can <activity>”, with the optional addition of “so that <benefit>”.

The most straightforward approach to user story identification would be to ask the users to describe what they are doing. But this is time consuming. Many companies have existing model documentation stored as either use cases or BPMN models. Therefore, our paper studied whether BPMN models or use cases are better for identifying user stories and understanding their dependencies.

All models are wrong. But some are useful.

Our experiment compared the effectiveness of the reuse of two business process formats: textual use cases and visual BPMN models. We compared them in three elicitation tasks: identifying user stories, understanding their execution order, and understanding integration dependencies.We found that different representation formats are suitable for different tasks of the elicitation process.

The experiment’s participants achieved better results in problem-solving tasks concerning execution order dependencies when the visual BPMN model was provided.

On the other hand, they performed about equally well in the problem-solving task on integration dependencies and in identifying user stories whether there was a visual BPMN or textual use case model. Our findings highlight the potential to better integrate existing documentation of BPMN models into an agile development process. The elicitation process can be supported with existing BPMN documentation reused for agile development.

Most importantly, both BPMN and use case models have their specific strengths. Therefore, the message is broader: the requirements engineering and BPM fields could work together to get closer to the ultimate goal of both, which is to improve processes and support them with proper software applications.



Information and Software technology


JCR=2.9; CiteScore= 5.07

The article is available here.

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