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I am Product Owner of a Scrum Team which has to develop features for multiple business units. All these features are translated in user stories. Of course, some features are developed for multiple business units.

To explain it very plainly: for Project X we made a business case and got the budget to develop a feature. In the business case, we stated that it would cost an X amount of money to make sure we can earn Y dollars.

Now, a user story in our backlog will lead to the development of a feature which will be responsible for a certain Return on Investment for that project (or others as well).

How can we best track this business value and make a direct link to the business cases for reporting purposes?

  • While is seems like bad advice in the general case, in your situation I might try to carry some level of business case context in your “so that” portion of each user story. But user stories aren’t really meant to map 1:1 to business cases, and you may need to look outside Scrum or the user story format if you’re trying to layer on some form of earned-value management. – Todd A. Jacobs Feb 7 '18 at 21:10
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Alignment Maps could be used to link user stories to business cases:

Alignment maps are organizational information radiators that help visualize the alignment of ongoing work with business outcomes. The work may be regular functionality addition or technical work such as re-architecting or repaying technical debt or improving the build and deployment pipeline. Team members use alignment maps to understand what business outcomes their day-to-day work is meant to improve. Business and IT sponsors use them to understand how ongoing work relates to the business outcomes they care about.

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Estimating the cost of development of a feature by Scrum teams

You asked:

How can we best track this business value and make a direct link to the business cases for reporting purposes?

I will try to outline the steps to track the cost of developing a feature.

  1. Estimate the cost of one sprint: If, for example, you have 5 people in the dev team and share a Scrum Master and Product Owner among two teams, you can add up the cost of the total headcount of 5 + .5 + .5 = 6. Let us say the cost per sprint is $25,000.
  2. Estimate the velocity of the team in story points: You can arrive at an initial estimate after 3 sprints empirically and refine it further as you run more sprints. Let us say the velocity is 25 story points per sprint.
  3. Track the total number of story points to develop a feature: You can do this using the tool you use for Scrum (such as Jira, TFS...) by creating an epic for the feature. Make sure all the stories required to complete this feature, are marked as children of this one epic. The tool should let you see the total number of story points for the epic in one place. Let us say that, after your team has done all the estimations, the epic shows a total of 40 points. Note that this is an initial estimate. The team may make changes to this estimate in the Backlog Refinement meetings.

Your cost per story point is $25,000 / 25 = $1000.

The cost of the feature = Total story points for this epic * Cost per story point, namely, 40 * $1000 = $40,000.

You will have to find a way to track the $ earned by implementing the feature, which is outside of Scrum and typically involves many business assumptions.

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A simple solution is to number your business cases i.e. BC1, BC2 etc. For each story you can write the business cases number that produced the story. Furthermore you can number your user stories as well. For example :

BC1 : Some business case

(BC1) US1 : some user story

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