How Integration User Stories Can Boost Your Business

Are you struggling to provide the integrations your customers demand? Discover the power of user stories for ensuring integrations add real value to your product. Learn how to write them with our expert guidance.
Written by
Michelle Artreche, Content Marketing Manager
Published on
July 14, 2023

Seamless integrations are now an expectation in the SaaS industry. However, a large quantity of integrations is not enough. You must also have high-quality integrations.

Why Integrations Fail

Creating high-quality integrations can feel easier said than done. There are many reasons why integrations fail. Three of the most common reasons are:

  1. Difficult setup and management.
  2. Data syncing problems.
  3. Not meeting user requirements. 

When these issues occur, customers get frustrated, leading to negative reviews of SaaS product integrations like these:

But, there is a simple way to avoid these issues and the negative feedback that comes with them — create integration user stories before starting the development or approval process.

What are User Stories?

Integrations connect different systems together. 

Sometimes it's easy, like syncing CRM lists with email marketing. Other times it's more complex, depending on the apps involved. 

Related content: What Are Integration Partnerships? All Your FAQs Answered

Our job is to find the best way to help customers use these systems together. We want to create a user-friendly interface so customers can set up integrations themselves and meet their needs.

User stories are a way to explain what people need from a system. They follow a simple format: "As a [role], I need to [task] to accomplish [goal]." 

Related content: Designing and Scoping User-Facing SaaS Integrations With ShipBob

How to Create User Stories

Use this three-step process to create your user stories.

1. Identify Your Audience by creating User Personas

Think about all the different types of people who use your app. To understand what integrations and configurations are needed, you should identify all the key users of your product.

For example, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is used by marketers, salespeople, business developers, and developers. An Applicant Tracking System is used by recruiters, HR executives, hiring managers, and benefits administrators. 

Your product and marketing teams have likely already created user personas, which describe the different types of users. So, talk to them and ask for their insights. 

Also, collaborate with your tech partners to find out if they have any additional user personas to contribute. This will give you a clear picture of who your app serves and what they need.

2. Write the Use Stories

Once you know who your users are, write down what integrations they need and why they need them. Work together with product, sales, customer success, and product marketing teams to create these user stories, treating them like new product features. 

Keep in mind that these stories may change based on feedback from customers after they're launched. 

Start by writing high-level stories using the format "As a [role], I need to [task] to accomplish [goal]." 

3. Define Your Master Acceptance Criteria

The final step is to define acceptance criteria for each user story. This describes what users need to do in order to achieve their goals. 

For example, When using a CRM and an email marketing platform together, it's essential to keep contact segments synchronized and track email performance within the CRM. To achieve this they system must:

  • Regularly sync contacts
  • Eliminate duplicates
  • Sync audience segments
  • Log emails sent from the marketing platform in the CRM
  • Capturing reporting metrics at the audience level

Also consider any API limitations that may affect the integration, including those with your partners. 

Here are elements to consider when drafting acceptance criteria:

  • Timing: Assess whether real-time data syncing is necessary for critical notifications, or if daily syncs are sufficient for certain tasks like moving invoices.
  • Data Volume: Take into account any limitations on data transfer capacity within specific timeframes as defined by the APIs.
  • Field Mapping: Review the field structures and relationships in both systems to ensure smooth information transfer. Account for any variations such as different field structures for names or variations in handling groups or enrollment.
  • User Experience: Prioritize a seamless and practical experience for users by incorporating user-friendly features for setup, updates, syncing, usage monitoring, troubleshooting, and disconnection.

After defining your user personas, stories, and acceptance criteria, collaborate closely with the engineering team to align the integration design with as many criteria as possible. You can refer to a sample integration user story and acceptance criteria by downloading it here.

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