August 6, 2020


News for Agilists

Vertically splitting stories. Slicing the stories in smaller vertical… | by Yamini Hundare | Serious Scrum | Jul, 2020

When a Product Backlog item or an Increment is described as “Done”, everyone must understand what “Done” means. Although this may vary significantly per Scrum Team, members must have a shared understanding of what it means for work to be complete, to ensure transparency. This is the definition of “Done” for the Scrum Team and is used to assess when work is complete on the product Increment.:

As a team, you may end up in a situation where not everything about a story is completed according to the DoD(Definition of Done). A classic example is when the development work is done and automation testing has partially been completed. These are situations that as a team, you need to stop falling prey to.

Set a team norm, if a story is NOT done as per DoD, it’s not complete. The team shouldn’t even argue in such situations. If as a Scrum Master I am able to help the team establish this team norm, half of the problem is solved.

The next challenge is how to enable the team to break stories into smaller doable chunks.

When splitting a story always remember the 6 letter word.

I.N.V.E.S.T — Independent Negotiable Valuable Estimable Small Testable.

Do some brainstorming sessions with the team, ask for ideas about splitting stories vertically. As a Scrum Master always ask can we break it further? You will be amazed how efficiently a team can break down stories in molecular tasks that can be completed in 1 to 3 days of time and when I say completed this refers to, as per DoD.

A few techniques that I find very handy and useful for slicing a story are:

  1. CRUD operations — Add |Edit |Delete
  2. Separating the workflows — Approve | Revert | Reject
  3. Functionality options — Cash Payment | Credit Card Payment | Debit Card Payment and so on
  4. Profile-based separation — Admin | User | Reviewer
  5. OS or Platform-specific — Android | IOS, Windows | Linux, Chrome | IE
  6. Geographic breakdown — EMEA | APAC | Americas

The fun part is you can mix these techniques. For example, We can “Add” a Credit card “payment option” for the Americas “region” only for customer “profile” and so on.

Do brainstorming sessions with your team and come up with your chart of the story breakdown ideas. Make these sessions interactive and fun. As a Scrum Master help the team understand what is acceptable and what is not. Coach, and mentor the team to do the right things in a better way.

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