User stories too big

Last post 02:03 pm May 31, 2017
by Sandeepkumar Gupta
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05:14 pm January 5, 2017

I'm a Scrum Master of a team who have stories which are too big. Many of them don't fall within the recommended max. 1 week guideline for a user story. This is affecting the flow of our work and also delaying feedback loops.

We have created a Definition of Ready, part of which is making our stories as small as possible.

Note that as we are essentially a component Scrum team, it seems like many of the stories are technical stories. My PO is also pretty new to doing the role, having been a developer in the past.

A couple of ideas I'm going to suggest we try is user story mapping and using BDD to tease out scenarios to see if we could use scenarios to slice smaller.

Has anyone had a similar problem, if so what approach did you take to fix? Also have you tried the above 2 approaches?

10:20 am May 31, 2017

Hi Kaizen,

In a user stories various aspects can be covered as below:- 

Workflow steps

Business Rules

Happy/unhappy flow

Input options

Datatypes and parameters

Operations

Test cases/ Acceptance criteria

Roles etc

So, here you can have a vertically sliced user stories. Each user story contribute some progress in above areas. You can discuss the scope of each user story. Like if there are 10 Business Rules, it is not necessary that you consider all 10 Rules in one user story. You can ask Product Owner what are the mandatory rules or what is needed just for that 1 week. Same you can do with other areas.

Negotiate with PO and finalize the scope as per your sprint duration. Make sure you achieve the goal of the feature.

Looking at below small example, goal for customer/user is to go from one place to another. Every sprint we deliver some MVP. MVP is Minimum Viable Product. Most of time we do mistake following first row in below picture. We are not able to get proper feedback and customer is unhappy since no value is being added.

In second row, in first increment itself user can go from one place to another. We keep adding other comforts/features in every increment based on feedback. Also customer is happy :)

Please have a look at below links.

http://blog.agilistic.nl/content/images/2015/03/cheatsheet-for-splittin…

http://www.romanpichler.com/blog/minimum-viable-product-and-minimal-mar…

Hope this helps.