I think this is a very common issue a lot of companies fight with. So I would like to ask for your input.
Product Owners often prefer to keep specifications in Google spreadsheet. And then write user stories in JIRA (or any other tool) that link to said spreadsheet. Especially when things get complicated. But this often gets out of hand and suddenly you have a lot of different places to check as a developer to make sure you fulfilled the acceptance criteria.
From a developer perspective there are a couple of things that speak against spreadsheets:
- No transparent versioning. You have to navigate past, present and future with color codes or in different sub-sections
- Not all the information is present in the story, so you need to first collect information before you can start to work on a story.
- They aren’t designed to store files, annotations, conversations, and related information that are essential parts of project communication and collaboration.
- When doing the sprint review, it is great to have all the acceptance criteria right in the story in order to efficiently check if something can be considered as "done".
From a Product Owner perspective spreadsheets make a lot of sense:
- All the specifications are in one place and not scattered along multiple stories.
- You can create the data structure most fitting for your needs. You can define columns, add multiple sheets to your workbook, etc.
- You don't have to repeat yourself whenever you write a story. Just reference the spreadsheet.
I am currently moderating between a Product Owner who loves spreadsheets and a Development Team who despises them. I am a developer myself and dislike them, but I see the points the PO makes.
So I guess my questions are:
- Are spreadsheets necessarily bad?
- Are there tools or best practices out there that I am missing?