Steve Fenton

The forgotten use of story slicing

When you are working on an agile product backlog, there are a few common practices that help to manage the work. Only adding items to the backlog that are likely to be worked on in the foreseeable future, allowing items to remain vague until they are close to being worked on and slicing stories that are too big are all cornerstones of good backlog management.

The interesting thing about story slicing is that I keep hearing about one half of its purpose, but not the other.

The first half, which seems well known, is that when you break work into smaller pieces it helps to make it better understood and reduces the variability in the work. Many teams set a goal of getting stories below a certain size threshold.

This is a great start – but there is an even bigger benefit to slicing your stories up: You can choose not to do the low value items.

When you break a story into five small pieces, it is possible that only two of them are really valuable. The other three do not have to be done now – they may not ever need to be done.

Every time you slice a story, you should inspect the pieces and discard those that are not needed right now.

Written by Steve Fenton on