Most Scrum and XP practitioners are familiar with Bill Wake’s INVEST characteristics for good user stories.  Here is a deck that I created for training a new team on these concepts and helping them get some practice with story grooming.  There are example stories that violate each of the INVEST characteristics and examples of ways to improve each story.  When presenting this deck get your team to collaborate on ways to improve each story before showing them the example improvements.

As good of a mnemonic as INVEST is, I’ve found that there are a couple additional characteristics of a story that are critical for a team to assess during grooming, hence I use INVEST++ for my teams:

+ Do we have a fairly clear idea on how to implement this or are there risks here that could cause our estimation to be way off, and cause us to miss delivering on our commitments?  If there is a large amount of risk, consider splitting stories to minimize the risk or using a spike story to do some exploratory work.

+  Is there any code refactoring required or desired as part of implementing this story.  As we often work with “legacy” code and technical debt that has been left for us to pay off, it is sometimes necessary to consider refactoring when adding new functionality to a part of the code base.  This additional work needs to be considered as we estimate the story.