What Is Story Splitting? Definition and Techniques

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What is Story Splitting?

What is story splitting?

Story Splitting Definition

The act of breaking down a huge backlog item into smaller ones that provide value and are quickly available is known as splitting user stories.

Scaling down a single user story into smaller stories is known as story splitting. It’s not about breaking it down into individual jobs but instead about creating whole tales or slices that are useful to the user.

For example, assume you and your team are developing software to assist HR teams in managing their company’s intranet. 

You utilize the “As a” “I wish to” or ” so that” format while working on a user story. What you come up with is as follows:

You want to publish stories to your company intranet as an administrator so that You can keep your staff notified.

This user story provides the tools you’ll need to get started.

According to this user story, managers must be able to publish content on the website. If you consider it a little further, you’ll notice that the story has a lot of functions.

Admins must be allowed to publish various content kinds (videos, documents, text updates, and so on.)

Content must be able to be scheduled for publication by administrators.

Administrators must be able to see a preview of the published content.

Content collaboration is essential for administrators.

That single user story is considerably more daunting than when you first started, right? It’s significantly more than a single sprint could provide.

The benefit of splitting user stories is that it enables you to break down a tremendous user experience into smaller ones. Additionally, make it more workable stories that are still meaningful.

Why do we split user stories?

Although splitting user stories may appear tedious, it is an essential task for agile teams for several reasons, including:

  • The team avoids being overwhelmed by breaking down user stories into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  • Splitting user stories allows teams to provide value to consumers more frequently and early.
  • Splitting user stories shifts the focus away from development layers and toward the user’s experience.
  • When splitting user stories, the team must prioritize users‘ highest-value objectives and functionality.
  • Another problem could be that you don’t know enough about the tale to know where to start meeting the business need indicated and need to perform some research initially.
  • Another explanation could be that you don’t know enough about the tale to know where to start to meet the business need indicated. Therefore you need to perform some research first.
  • Another reason to do splitting user stories is that it removes something you don’t need. 

It’s all about creating a minimum marketable feature (MMF) or a minimum viable product (MVP) that you can distribute to the public and begin receiving feedback on. 

If there are things you can postpone (or possibly never do), you can prioritize the functions with the highest value.

During your sprint planning, you may also realize that you need to separate or recombine stories. It is more of an artwork than a science, and you’ll get it soon. (Learn all about our top-notch product management software here.)

What are techniques for splitting user stories?

Here are a few splitting user stories techniques:

1. Story division based on the available capabilities

You must consider the options that each user narrative provides in this regard. You can split a major user story into two parts if it requires you to search and sort. 

If you have several ways of sorting and searching in each of them, you can further divide them.

2. Depending on the devices on which the app will get used

You can’t expect all of your software users to utilize it on the same system. You’ll need to adjust for devices, settings, and other factors. As a result, you may divide user stories into groups based on these distinctions and focus on one at a time.

3. User role-based categorization

You should note that different users will utilize the same software differently. Consider the case of a recruitment portal. It would be used differently by users than by HR managers. 

Similarly, educational software would not be used in the same way by teachers and pupils. As a result, the various roles of persons who utilize the system may get defined. You can also divide the features and work on them separately this way. 

It will be easier to handle the various needs of each user in this manner.

4. Breaking out user stories into personas

After user roles, user personas may differ as well. It would be contingent on a variety of factors. 

For instance, if someone knows a lot about the system, they could prefer shortcuts to help them work faster. A newer user would want a lot of system guidance, and you’d have to incorporate a lot of tips or guidelines.

 A person with a physical disability would have to use the function differently.

You can divide your user stories based on these distinctions in personas, focusing on only one at a time.

5. Separate user stories according to workflows

A single main feature can break down into several lesser features. 

Consider using an app like Instagram to share a photo. To begin, select a picture from your collection or click one. 

After that, you might wish to tweak the image. Then, you’ll need to tag people and add a location and caption. After all of this, only the picture would get posted.

The instance we used is more complicated, but the fundamental point is to split based on flow. As a result, each of these jobs can be worked on independently.

What is not a technique for splitting user stories?

It’s best to avoid splitting up stories along technical boundaries.

Stories like these can result from dividing along technical lines:

  • As a user, I’d like a backend that does this and that.
  • As a user, I require a frontend that performs the same functions.

A good story follows a technology stack from beginning to end. Or, at the very least, the portion of the technology stack is required to offer the functionality. 

We get stories that don’t add value to users on their own when we split them up along technical lines. A frontend (for example, a web interface) is useless without a backend (a middle tier and database).

Instead of splitting a story following technical lines, check if you can separate it along story paths.

Mistakes to avoid while splitting user stories

Excessive Information:

There are occasions when having too much knowledge might stifle innovation or critical thinking. It provides the impression that there are no further assumptions or inquiries. 

The entire team is not encouraged to approach challenges and potential solutions from various angles. It devolves into a checklist.

 A lengthy list may lead to the addition of unnecessary elements. It results in a more prolonged development cycle and longer feedback loops for stakeholders

Instead of attempting to break down everything at first, start with the most complex or critical criteria, then gradually add the remaining components as you gain experience. It will depend on your requirements.

Story Splitting for the Improper Reasons:

Another typical error when constructing a sequence of smaller stories is separating stories for the wrong reasons rather than vertical slicing for user functionality. 

The truth is that some tales will be larger and more complicated, requiring the use of the entire technology stack to offer the necessary functionality. 

As the name suggests, a user story is about the user and their goals. When dividing based on engineering tasks or technical boundaries, you can leave value and function on the table.

Splitting stories along user paths is a simple method to avoid the temptation to separate tales along technical lines. Some divides, such as the payment and checkout functions, will be simple to cut off.

It might feature the flexibility to send to the same or a different address each time and the ability to pay with several methods. 

Alternatively, you can choose to send standard, fast, or overnight. Regardless of its nature, each path should focus on attaining a user objective.

Assumptions about the Story:

You should not form assumptions or, at the very least, validate because communication is crucial. 

A team that expects all possibilities will face heaps of rework. Technology evolves in tandem with the user’s shifting desires. Even established paths will change.

When writing user stories, the idea is to concentrate on the “what” rather than the “how.” This client, for example, may only accept cryptocurrencies or PayPal as payment rather than debit or credit cards. 

Cut it short and straightforward in the user story instead of presuming how the “user processes payment.” 

Yes, the team will have to identify the payment choices. Too much time gets spent developing this level of detail that may or may not be necessary.

Keep in mind that user stories are the talking points for the broader goal. There could be an excessive number of splits if there are too many specifics.


Which is the correct way of splitting stories into smaller stories?

There are two typical methods for splitting user stories: horizontal and vertical. Horizontal splitting is more about splitting layers of related works. This horizontal division does not increase potential saleable goods. Method of vertical splitting when an increment of possibly releasable product is required, splitting makes it more logical.

Can it be considered to split the user story?

Breaking down a single user story into smaller stories is known as story splitting. It’s not about cutting it down into individual jobs but rather about creating comprehensive stories or slices that are useful to the user.

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