Ideas for splitting Epics into User Stories

Ideas for splitting Epics into User Stories

Remember you are looking to develop slices of the business opportunity the produces valuable working software with the potential to generate feedback from users. Sometimes the story slices are not deliverable to end-users but they generate value from the learning gained in producing them. They should all result in testable and demonstrable software. Consider applying the XP principle DTSTTCPW (“Do The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work”)

Consider the following approaches:

What are the visual elements that must be there or can be deferred?

  • You can make a story per viewing steps on a user journey.
  • You can make a story per enabled elements of an input screen.
  • You can make a simple (not pretty) UI.
  • You can make  a command line interface.

What scenarios are in scope for acceptance criteria?

  • You can work with a subset of the user scenarios.
  • You can defer conditional steps to other stories.
  • You can defer data validation.
  • You can defer error handling.

What architecture decision or constraints that can be deferred?

  • You can defer optimization of performance.
  • You can defer internationalization
  • You can defer working on different platforms/devices
  • You can defer handling large volumes of data.
  • You can hard-code data rather than getting from the real source
  • You can stub out components.

This is not an exhaustive list! Be creative in your story splitting approach.

Practical Exercise

Concept: Crowdsource your wedding photos
Invite guests to contribute and view collected photos from event

Benefits: personal photos – longer timeline including build up to big day – cheaper

Costs: web hosting, storage, charging model 5p per upload, 10 per published photo

Challenges: privacy, participation, selecting

Personas: Kim anxious bride, Geoff non-techie guest, Alex always-on-social media mate.


Here are some headline “Epic” stories:

  • Happy couple: Invite guests to contribute photos
  • Guests: Upload photos
  • Happy couple: Select photo set to share
  • Guests: Add information about photos
  • Guests: View photos


  • Get into groups of 2-3 people
  • Grab some index cards
  • Consider one epic story
  • Write smaller stories, one per card
  • Objective: as many small story cards as you can
  • Share one small story with the group at the end

Note: Taken from Rachel Davies, 2014 Agile Adria event

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