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Aug 07

Sub-Scrum

On the left the sub-sprint board for the 20 point userstory that is on the main board on the right

On the left the sub-sprint board for the 20 point userstory that is on the main board on the right

Today I encountered a very interesting situation. I named it Sub-Scrum. A small team is working on a software solution. And during the planning session they encountered a user story that was a bit complicated. They assigned twenty story-points and according to their baseline this is very high. Normally I would advise to cut it up into smaller stories. But they couldn’t even start to think about how to do that.  So they just started to work on it. But they did something funny. Together with the product owner they wrote down everything that they knew was needed to get somewhere with the story. Tasks, functions and so on. And everything was given a faze. Develop, test and done. Now, you might say that this is splitting the story into smaller stories. But somehow it is a bit of a hybrid. There are functions sub-stories and tasks and these have fazes in which the team picks up the work.

They even took an extra whiteboard and turned this into a small scrum sprint board. An sprint board for one user story. A large story divided into transparent steps. It does not guarantee that the story is completely done at the end of the sprint but everyone is determined to bring it as far as they can bring it.

Is this wrong. Scrum dictates that you just should split large user stories into smaller, but what if you can’t. What if the work at hand is too complex for everyone and you just have to start grinding it down. Is a sub-scrum so wrong. I don’t know. This seems to work. Even better, the team decided to work this way and to have a form of transparency that works.

I like to see how this will turn out. If they can keep this up and if they can get the twenty-point story to a satisfactory result. I don’t think the Scrum-police will drop in en arrest everybody. It is a different and I must say creative solution. At least it is very agile. I’ll keep you posted about the outcome.

Permanent link to this article: http://agilethings.nl/sub-scrum/