Defining Users And Value In User Stories For Non-User Facing Projects

Understanding Users in Non-User Facing Projects

Non-user facing projects, such as infrastructure initiatives or back-end systems development, often do not have clearly defined end-users providing direct input and feedback. However, properly identifying users and crafting user stories is still a critical component of delivering maximum value. When direct access to users is limited, product teams must dig deeper to uncover key user details.

Clarifying the meaning of “user”

The concept of a “user” can encompass a wide range of roles, even for non-customer facing projects. Potential users could include:

  • Internal team members who utilize system infrastructure and architecture
  • Operations engineers who monitor system health and performance
  • Data scientists who leverage analytics platforms and data pipelines
  • External business partners integrated with internal platforms
  • Customer-facing engineers building client experiences on foundational back-end services

Defining the user base establishes clarity around which perspectives should help drive development priorities. For infrastructure teams, end-users are often one or more levels removed from direct interaction with a system. However, identifying the next level of engineers, analysts, or technical staff who consume platform outputs helps encapsulate a clear user persona even without access to customer inputs.

Identifying user needs without direct input

While direct user interviews and feedback sessions may not be feasible for non-customer facing initiatives, development teams still need to represent user needs as accurately as possible. This requires deeper levels of internal consultation across potentially impacted groups. Useful techniques include:

  • Surveys – Well-structured surveys distributed across an organization can uncover usage patterns and pain points.
  • Focus groups – Assembling groups of potentially affected staff in exploratory sessions provides qualitative signals on workflows and blockers.
  • Data analysis – Usage metrics, quality measures, and system monitoring contain behavioral clues regarding utility and pain points.
  • Consulting domain experts – Leveraging staff with organizational knowledge surfaces crucial contextual details on team dynamics and challenges.

While indirect, synthesizing these internal insights through consultative user research maximizes perspective-taking for non-customer facing work. Cross-departmental surveys, centralized analytics, and dedicated domain specialists help fill user insight gaps.

Crafting Value Propositions Without User Feedback

Without direct end-user inputs, non-customer facing teams need to dig deeper on ancillary signals to craft strong value propositions tied to organizational objectives. Useful frameworks include:

Focusing on business goals and metrics

Infrastructure and back-end focused systems generate value through enabling wider business metrics. Connecting system outputs to revenue growth, cost efficiency, risk reduction, and platform stability highlights overall business impact. Sample high-level measures include:

  • Increasing development velocity for customer-centric products
  • Reducing downtime and stability risks
  • Boosting data analytics throughput and accuracy
  • Streamlining IT support burdens through automation

Anchoring infrastructure and technical projects to broader organizational goals and metrics maintains focus on the end-to-end value chain.

Considering secondary users and stakeholders

For foundational initiatives, also consider perspectives beyond direct system users. Example stakeholder groups include:

  • Client partners relying on stable external platforms
  • Revenue teams dependent on analytics data
  • Developers building upon foundational services
  • Operations staff managing infrastructure performance

Exploring pain points and desired outcomes across additional internal teams reveals supplementary sources of value generation.

Building empathy through personae

Constructing user personae makes indirect teams more relatable while also clarifying pain point. Example non-customer facing personae could include:

  • Data science manager seeking more robust analytics platforms
  • Backend developer needing improved API stability
  • Sysadmin focused on security and uptime

Team members should reference and embody these representative users when discussing product requirements and narratives. Personae derived from internal research humanize infrastructure teams and priorities.

Examples and Best Practices

The following examples and best practices highlight techniques for defining users and construct user stories for non-end-user facing initiatives:

Sample user stories for infrastructure projects

  • As a mobile app developer, I need a performant and available serving layer, so that I can rapidly build consumer apps.
  • As a data scientist, I want expanded data warehouse capacity and transformed features, so that I can run deeper analytics.
  • As a site reliability engineer, I need to standardize configurations as code, so I can prevent configuration drift.

These stories connect infrastructure changes with improved outcomes for internal teams, quantifying value from an organization-wide perspective.

Quantifying value for non-user facing work

Non-functional requirements can still be quantified when tied to business metrics. Example story enhancers highlighting measurable value could include:

  • Reduce mobile app latency from 500ms to 100ms to increase conversion rates by 2%.
  • Improve data pipeline completeness from 80% to 95% capture to enable more predictive modeling.
  • Standardize 80% of configurations to reduce sysadmin overhead by 30%.

Anchoring technical improvements to statistics conveys broader measurable impact.

Gathering feedback through alternate channels

When direct user validation is not feasible, alternative feedback channels help gauge incremental progress. Potential options include:

  • Internal surveying of dependent teams
  • Early milestone demos to developer constituents
  • Quantitative usage data as indicators for utility
  • Advisory forums of domain experts

Combining consultative feedback and usage signals preserves outside perspective for non-user facing work.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Defining users and crafting compelling value propositions without direct customer inputs introduces wider challenges for non-user facing teams. However, focusing on enabling other internal groups, quantifying global business impact, and gathering surrogate feedback preserves user centricity.

Main points to remember

  • Identify adjacent teams made more effective by foundational platforms
  • Connect infrastructure improvements to broader business metrics
  • Construct personae for absent user perspectives
  • Gather feedback through internal surveys and milestone demos

Additional resources for learning more

For further best practices on defining users and values for non-customer facing initiatives, explore these additional resources:

  • Write Great User Stories by Jeff Patton
  • Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri
  • Infrastructure as Code by Kief Morris
  • Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim

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