This is the fifth post in the series in which I have interviewed several Agile experts to reveal the differences between user stories and software requirements and their application in regulated systems (i.e. health IT systems). You can find the previous post in this series here.

Today’s interview is with Dr. Alistair Cockburn, one of the original creators of the Agile Software Development movement and co-author of “The Agile Manifesto.” He was voted as one of the “All-Time Top 150 i-Technology Heroes” for his pioneering work in the software field. Besides being an internationally renowned IT strategist and author of the Jolt award-winning books “Agile Software Development” and “Writing Effective Use Cases,” he is an expert on agile development, use cases, process design, project management, and object-oriented design.

In 2003 he created the Agile Development Conference; in 2005 he co-founded the Agile Project Leadership Network; and in 2010 he co-founded the International Consortium for Agile. Many of his articles, talks, poems, and blogs are online at

Do you think that “user story” is just a fancy name for SRS?

No, but close.

How do you compare a user story with SRS?

A story must be end-user visible, something that an end user declares is valuable to him/her, and implementable in one sprint. SRS does not have those characteristics.

Do you think that user stories replace SRS?


Which of the two do you prefer working with?

Neither. Use cases + user stories works well.

Which of the two methods do you recommend using for regulated systems (i.e., health IT systems, medical device software)?

I do not recommend user stories for regulated systems. I do not recommend SRS ever.

Do you agree with Dr. Cockburn? Comments and discussion are welcome.

You can find the post in which I interviewed Jean Pierre Berchez here.

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