Use cases vs User stories: What is the Difference

What is a use case?

Did you ever feel that the finished product substantially differs from what you first imagined? Or the final version doesn’t have the feature you were looking for. These mishaps are common, and knowing them can make it easier to understand why companies even need use cases in the first place.

A use case can be described as the explanation of how someone will accomplish a goal by using a specific process. Technically, it describes how a system and its actors interact. A document containing all the actions a user takes to accomplish a goal is the result of this process.

Use cases are utilised by product teams in a variety of circumstances. It is applied in developing, testing, and designing. This procedure aids in creating an essential blueprint for a user manual’s structure. Through this method, errors and other flaws are also reduced.

Some important terms are utilised throughout the entire use case process. These principles serve as the framework and backbone of the whole procedure.

  • The goal: The actor is whoever or whatever is interacting with the system. They are the system’s users. 
  • The system: The use case aimed to get this result. It is frequently the outcome of this process.
  • The programme: This comprises each step taken to reach the desired effect.

The three fundamental concepts don’t always apply. Each project, model, and situation has a unique level of complexity. In a use case, numerous additional phrases are employed for complex items. Terms like these include:

  • Stakeholders: All stakeholders are interested in how the use case will turn out. Users are not required to participate.
  • Triggers: The events that enable a use case to start are triggers.
  • Prerequisites: These are all the conditions that must fall together for the case to happen.

Use cases comprehensively explain developers’ rules from a technology standpoint. It provides a general concept of what the system’s developers should contain. Furthermore, it offers the creator a feeling of direction.

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What is a user story?

The who, what and why of an outcome or objective that the user wishes to accomplish is the focus of a user story. This is the lowest amount of labour that can add value to the client. It is commonly written on an index card from the perspective of the final user.

User stories are created to be as straightforward as possible to spare the team and stakeholders from having to interpret many technical languages. But that doesn’t suggest that writing a user story is simple. There is a lot of data packed into one line. The team must also define and develop their user persona before creating a user story and compiling all product requirements.

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Three Cs theory

The three critical elements of efficient user stories are the 3C’s. Ron Jeffries, a co-inventor of the user story practice, put forth the idea. These days, when we talk about user stories, we usually mean the kind of user stories composed of these three factors.


Cards are used to write user stories. A brief phrase with just enough text appears on each User Story card to remind the story’s topic.


Throughout the entire software development project, requirements are uncovered and refined through continuous dialogues between customers and the development team. The stakeholder meetings would uncover and document essential decisions and suggestions.


Confirmation can sometimes be referred to as the User Story’s acceptance criteria. During the requirements discussion, the customer advises the analyst on what they want and the conditions and standards under which the working software will be accepted or rejected. The defined cases are written as proof. Be mindful that confirmation focuses on confirming the correctness of the corresponding User Story’s work. It is not an integration test.

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Use cases vs user stories: Difference

Here we discuss the difference between a use case and a user story. This will help you better understand how they work and how to employ them.

Technical vs user focus

A user’s needs are represented in a user story. It draws attention to a challenge that a user encounters daily. This draft’s language is straightforward and is designed to maintain consistency among all interested parties. Use cases, on the other hand, are developed only for the product team. It gives the team a picture of what the software should do. It also outlines each step the programmers must take to develop the software. Due to this, use cases are much more detailed than user stories.

Basic versus in-depth

User stories are a concise summary of how many users engage with software. In contrast to user stories, use cases are pretty specific. They detail unique user behaviors with any system.

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Brief versus detailed

User stories miss a significant amount of information. This is because it leaves room for improvement and discussion. This feature of user stories is deliberate. This pushes stakeholders to make conversation and enhance the product. In contrast, use cases are particular. They go into great depth about each step a developer might take. Generally, there isn’t room for discussion.

Before developing the user case, user stories are created. They are usually produced through user engagement. Multiple use cases can come from a single user story. A complete document is created when each of these use cases is integrated. This document describes how all software interacts with users.

The points stated above can be summed up in these three points to help you understand how are user stories different from use cases.

  • A User Story specified might not be as extensively recorded as a Use Case.
  • Numerous crucial details are intentionally omitted from user stories. User Stories are formed with the intent of starting conversations in scrum meetings.
  • Shorter steps for more regular feedback rather than a more thorough requirement formulation up front like in use cases

Use cases vs user stories: Similarities

Since we are learning about the differences between the two, we must also have some idea about the similarities between them so that we can make a proper decision when choosing. If we take into consideration the critical factor in both strategies:

  • User stories have included an objective, acceptance criteria, and user role.
  • Use Cases involve comparable components such as an actor, a flow of events, and post conditions.

So which one should you use? 

Now that you know the difference between use case and user story, you need to understand when to use which one. Essentially, it all depends on how big the task is. User Stories could be sufficient if the project is not particularly complicated. Use Cases might be more suitable if the project is complex and has many dependencies.

Many teams find that using both User Stories and Use Cases is the most effective way to operate. Teams can use both to benefit from the best of both worlds. First, they lay out their Sprint in plain terms that the entire team and all stakeholders can understand. The team then develops the Use Cases by increasing the User Stories. This provides them structure and originality, as well as simplicity and detail. Groups utilizing both User Stories and Use Cases for their project have better focus and stated expectations. 

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You know the objective of use cases and user stories by this stage. The success of a product is based on these ideas. If you want to learn how user stories differ from use cases properly, upGrad’s MBA from Liverpool Business School will help you understand the concept in detail. The course will help you become one of the best in this domain. Enrolling in this course will give you training on all the aspects needed to understand the concepts of user stories and use cases, along with their specific implementation for optimum results.

Does agile employ use cases?

Yes, use cases can be used in agile.

What are the three C’s of user stories?

The three C’s of user stories are: Card, Conversation and Confirmation

Who writes use cases?

The business analyst writes the use cases.

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