Stories at scale – part 1

Stories and their part in scaling agility

Commonly known as Backlog Items, User Stories, Work Items and just Stories, are the building block for the development team to drive the work they do and align the Product Owner and the Team in building the right thing.

The Story has been very well documented and anyone beginning on this journey is well advised to read Mike Cohn’s ‘User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development’.

Detail Hierarchy

According the Scaled Agile Framework, stories fit into a clear hierarchical model with Epics as the highest scope and least detailed, the features and then stories.

Stories are then broken down into tasks at the developer level.

We can see this in the UML diagram from the SAFe site.


The story is circled in red.

We can see from the model that a story can be a user story or an other type of work item. I prefer calling them all just stories and not making a differentiation between types.

SAFe also requires zero or more unit tests and one or more acceptance tests. This is typical in my mind of the current thinking around the move from brittle unit tests to BDD style acceptance tests. SAFe allows having no unit tests but insists on at least one acceptance test.

EPICS and Features

Epics and features are much higher level than stories. I will write about these separately.

References to follow..

Next in part 2, I will write about the structure of a story..

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