There is a hell of a lot going on in Agile Space on Story Splitting. On the internet and I hear it in interviews and conversations. It’s as if the only solution to smaller batches is to split ad infinitum.
Now don’t get me wrong, big batches are not good. They hurt feedback mechanisms, create silos and delay delivery of value.
And there is the point, delivery of value. Getting value to the customer is important. Story Splitting is one way. It doesn’t need to be the starting point. We may be losing our focus on delivery of value by thinking about a process. Value is not defined by the splitting of stories.
Something to consider then is to understand the nature of your work. Are there different types of work, or another way to put it, sources of demand? Can you use that information to help?
Maybe your team is predictable in it’s delivery. That’s great and congratulations to you on that. That data on delivery time can be leveraged. If you can say we can deliver product enhancements on one product within a time frame and be confident about that say 85% of the time. There you go – you have the makings of a Service Level Agreement or SLA. Your customer may even be happy with that!
How can that help in sizing stories? Well Dan Vacanti describes it in his book Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. It’s called Right Sizing. In essence it shortens the sizing conversation by asking does this work which we are about to take on fit in within our SLA. If so then pull the work. If not have that splitting conversation.
It’s that simple. However, if you are experiencing problems in predictability and expanding delivery times then you’ll want to deal with those. Dan’s book describes how Little’s Law and its components gives you ample information to help discover issues in your process.
Story Splitting is an option to start with. You can consider others like this. I think it will help you understand work to a higher level of fidelity. Your customer will hopefully feel the difference as you deliver to them more meaningful increments of value from the increased understanding. Coincidentally, you’ll also be on your way to be being better Systems and Lean Thinkers which are interesting subjects that will aid you being of best service to your customers.