Splitting User Stories Techniques

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jun 16, 2023
Updated on
Jun 16, 2023
Table of Content

In the world of Agile software development, user stories serve as the building blocks for creating valuable features. However, sometimes user stories can be too large or complex to implement in a single iteration. That's where the art of splitting user stories comes into play. In this blog post, we will explore the techniques and strategies for effectively splitting user stories, enabling teams to deliver value incrementally and efficiently.

What is User Story Splitting?

User story splitting is the process of breaking down a large user story into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be completed within a single sprint. By doing so, development teams can maintain a steady flow of value delivery and ensure that each increment is valuable on its own. Splitting user stories promotes collaboration, enables better estimation, and reduces the risk of uncertainty.

What is Not a Technique for Splitting User Stories?

Before diving into the techniques, it's essential to clarify what is not considered a technique for splitting user stories. Mere duplication or paraphrasing of a user story does not truly address the problem. Similarly, dividing user stories by technical implementation details can lead to isolated parts without delivering meaningful value. The focus should always be on delivering customer value.

Splitting User Stories Techniques

Now, let's explore some effective techniques for splitting user stories:

Functional Decomposition

Break down a user story by identifying its core functionality or the tasks involved. Think of it as dissecting a complex problem into smaller, more specific components. For example, if a user story involves creating a registration form, you can split it into separate stories for input validation, database integration, and user authentication.

Workflow Steps

Consider the different steps or stages involved in completing a user story. Each step can be treated as a separate story, allowing the team to focus on one aspect at a time. For instance, if the user story involves the checkout process, you can split it into stories for adding items to the cart, selecting shipping options, and making payment.

User Role or Persona

If a user story involves multiple user roles or personas, you can split it based on these distinctions. Each user role can have its own set of stories that cater to their specific needs. For example, if a story relates to an e-commerce platform, you can split it into stories for customers, administrators, and sellers.

Acceptance Criteria

Examine the acceptance criteria of a user story and identify potential sub-stories based on each criterion. This approach helps ensure that each sub-story meets a specific requirement. For instance, if the user story is about searching for products, you can split it into stories for filtering by category, sorting by price, and implementing search suggestions.

How to Split a User Story

When it comes to splitting user stories, collaboration and creativity are key. Here's a simple step-by-step process to help you split a user story effectively:

  1. Gather the Development Team: Bring together the relevant team members, including developers, testers, product owners, and stakeholders.
  1. Understand the User Story: Ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the user story's purpose, scope, and acceptance criteria.
  1. Brainstorm: Encourage open discussion and brainstorming to identify potential ways to split the story based on techniques mentioned earlier.
  1. Evaluate and Refine: Evaluate each proposed split and refine them to ensure they provide incremental value.
  1. Prioritize: Order the split stories based on priority and dependency, keeping in mind the value they deliver to the end-users.


By splitting user stories, teams can achieve several benefits. Firstly, it allows for better estimation and planning. Smaller stories are easier to estimate, which leads to more accurate sprint planning and resource allocation. Secondly, it promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing within the team. Breaking down stories encourages conversations and helps team members understand the project better. Lastly, it reduces the risk of uncertainty and provides early feedback. Delivering smaller increments allows stakeholders to provide feedback earlier in the process, ensuring that the final product meets their expectations.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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