Reviewing user stories

In the text below I have inserted a useful mnemonic for reviewing user stories. I learned this approach during my CAT training and created the CIRCUS MATTA to be able to remember how to review user stories for the CAT exam (which I failed but that’s another story and has nothing to do with this mnemonic).reviewing user stories


I use the mnemonic to determine whether the user story meets ”Definition of Ready”. Remember you have to define this and you also have to be aware that the Definition of Ready is not always a blessing for your team and the development process.

The meaning of CIRCUS MATTA

Completeness – Does the story have all the information it is supposed to have? Does it have traceability from previous documentation or discussions?

Independent – Try to keep stories as independent as possible, one customer centric. Dependencies lead to prioritisation and planning problems.

Realisable – Does the requirement make sense and is it possible?

Consistency – The way the specification is formatted, the language used and the way the requirements are presented should be consistent throughout the document.

Unambiguity – Is it free of statements such as ”Conversational speed” and ”timely manner”?

Specific – Has all of the information been included in order to deliver the product and that it does not contain general statements?

Measurable – How are you going to measure if the requirements have actually been delivered and are operational to specification?

Acceptable – Is the use of calculations, language, logic and formulas correct?

Testable – This is also known as Verifiable, if the requirement is not testable it cannot be built.

Traceable – Who wants this requirement, why is it needed and what Business strategy does it support?

Achievable – Is the user story achievable within the iteration, consideration may need to be given to splitting the user story (Epic)?