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Where did split go?

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  • 1.  Where did split go?

    Posted 01-02-2020 10:10 AM
    Prior to the UI "upgrade" last month, checking the box next to a user story in the iteration status screen would allow you to choose the split option.  This was used extensively at the end of a sprint to break up a story; leaving finished tasks in the old sprint and moving unfinished ones into the new sprint.  The iteration status screen is a great tool for facilitating this, since it's on that screen where you can filter down to see what work in the ending sprint is not complete. However, with the new UI, when you check the box on a story, "split" is no longer an option available to the user.

    Yes, I know that the split function is still available when I go into a user story, but from a performance point of view, the removal of this option from the iteration status screen is a large hit on the productivity for those who manage a sprint and need this function.   Just my two cents, thanks for listening.

  • 2.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-02-2020 11:49 AM
    I'm also looking to follow the outcome on this post as we'll likely have the same questions.

  • 3.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-03-2020 09:13 AM
    I agree that needing to drill down to the detail of each user story to split them is a big hit on productivity at the end of each sprint. I personally manage three projects and while they each have varying levels of activity and number of stories per sprint, I still spend a fair amount of time every two weeks closing out and splitting stories. The extra steps now required is annoying.

  • 4.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 08:17 AM
    Hi Mitch,

    I am slightly reluctant to join in this conversation as my views might seem slightly controversial. So please forgive me if I don't explain myself well enough. I am going to deviate from the UI implementation issue. I will leave that to Product Management.

    When I started at Rally six years ago, we had a great debate about: "To split, or not to split". There are pros and cons to both ways as seen from either side. The one thing that convinced me to go one way was the additional debate we had about: "Roughly right, not precisely wrong". As you might have already deduced, I fell on the side of not splitting stories at all. Splitting a story requires a leap of faith that what you have completed as tasks are a consistent indication of the completion rate of the remaining tasks. Having been a developer, I know that the brown stuff hits the fan all too often to say that this is 100% true.

    If splitting stories doesn't happen, then there are a few things that get highlighted and some of the changes you might want to bring about help improve behaviours and actually improve predictability.

    If I start with the 'roughly right' bit. How accurate do you need you sprint stats to be? If you were 90% accurate on a sprint by sprint basis, would that be sufficient? Most companies I work with do planning over a longer period, e.g. a quarter. So, that is 5/6 sprints. If you are 99% accurate over a 6-sprint period, is that sufficient? It all comes down to what you are going to do with the data that you are taking the time to precisely create. This app may help you with the average: https://github.com/nikantonelli/TeamVelocity

    Many of my colleagues have wondered about my presentation where I use the phrase "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time". I use this to talk about the sprint planning session. There are no shortcuts to taking the time to understand an issue, to break it down into individual chunks, each of which you can easily get your head around. Splitting stories should then become the exception, not the norm. Splitting is still needed for those "Oh S...!" moments. If we have 5-7 people in a team each with 4 stories a sprint and we have to deal with 1 or 2 unfinished stories, then we are still 90% (or more) accurate

    So what happens to stories that aren't finished? My recommendation is just to move them to the next sprint and finish them off. My experience is that people take the split continuation story and put it top of the priority list as the first thing to do. If you can accept that there was a dip in the accepted story points of the previous iteration, you will find that the 'average' corrects itself when you move the 'whole' story into the next iteration.

    Applying Lean thinking here.... why do it?

    Rally Sales Engineer
    Rally Software

  • 5.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 09:08 AM
    Hi Nik,
    I do get all of that.  Personally, I am not a fan of splitting stories. With the concept that you don't get credit for the work until it it's shippable, I agree that splitting stories (and points) goes against that.  Currently, I am SM of three teams, one of which insisted on this in their working agreements meeting and retros. They are a small team with low velocity, that routinely gets pulled from planned work to deal with production issues. They were not pleased with the large percentage up/down in points from sprint to sprint due to incomplete work (usually not their own fault). If they were a larger or higher velocity team, these differences would have all washed out sprint over sprint, but I understood their concerns in this case. If management was going to be looking into their velocity history, there were some sprints that looked like (points, not hours) like they weren't doing anything. Basically, the were concerned not about points from a planning perspective, but from an outside of the team measurement point of view (despite my assurances that that was not happening). In the end, it was better to relent on this issue to ensure a good team dynamic.

    But that wasn't the point (no pun intended. ok, maybe a bit) of my original post. I was merely calling attention to the removal of an important function from the iteration status page and how that has significant negative productivity impacts to the users of that function.  However, I do appreciate you insight on story splitting. There's not a lot of daylight between your thoughts and mine, but we often work in environments that aren't ideal and we need to make concessions along the way as we strive for team improvement.

  • 6.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 11:17 AM
    I agree with Nik here on the perspective that splitting stories should be a rare aberration, not a routine planning/retro function that needs to be on a main page. The feature hasn't been taken away ... it's just not as convenient. And I think that's the lesson here. Teams that insist the function has to be readily available in every planning session are ignoring a problem that should be attacked aggressively. I.e. "it's a people problem, not a tool problem."

    As a former tester in an multi-customer maintenance team that often got calls for expedited or unplanned work, I've seen our teams try multiple methods to "contain" and manage the impromptu work that threatened planned work. Reducing capacity to leave a buffer for those "drive-thru" requests, or planning a certain amount of team capacity to fit those into (e.g. "we can take 8 pts per sprint of impromptu, urgent work, any overage has to wait until next sprint"), or have one rotating team member on 50% capacity each sprint and let that person be the "ER doc" for the urgent work (that was good for professional development as well, each person got to work on different apps),... There wasn't any one "best practice," more than one of my examples leveled out our metrics and managed the speed bumps and potholes from interruptive work.

    I would urge some "tough love" here. Someone banging the table and insisting they need the "story splitting" feature on the page for splitting many stories could be told, "the split feature is still there on the Edit Details page, if you have to have it on a page listing all your stories, you've got a problem that Rally won't fix for you." Apologies if this seems combative; I know how resistant experienced Agile teams can be to getting a diagnosis of a chronic problem they refuse to address.

    SM, Agile Coach, Application Support

  • 7.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 11:29 AM

    @David Spalding

    Sure, understood, but that wasn't the point of this posting. I wasn't looking to debate the hot-button topic of the merits of story splitting.  I was just noting that a function of the tool was removed from where it was. If Broadcom thinks that splitting shouldn't take place, then they should remove it entirely. But that's not what happened. They just removed it from one of the most frequent places it's used and like a number of other changes made in December, it's removal is a bit puzzling.

  • 8.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 11:54 AM
    Sorry, Mitch. That was my fault for hijacking the thread.

    The button was probably moved because it simplified the code. I will ask what the longer term plan is and come back to you.

    Rally Sales Engineer
    Rally Software

  • 9.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-07-2020 04:46 PM
    Thank, Nik!

    I believe that one of the reasons why Microsoft and Linux have been successful is that they put a lot of effort into not breaking existing functionality. It's fine to offer a newer, better option, but don't break things for existing users.  Giving users functionality and then taking it away, or making it more difficult to use, is a recipe for frustration.  Even if you change the default behavior, give users some way to restore the old behavior.

    Your loyal users will thank you for it!

  • 10.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 12:01 PM
    That's understood. If you reread my post, I'm countering that the ability to split HAS NOT been removed entirely, it's just a little harder to get to. And since the practice of splitting stories, lots of 'em, on a regular basis is a cause for concern, this should not be a big UI change issue.

    The ability you're asking for appears to be available from the Iteration Tracking app you recommend in another thread. =:)

    tl;dr: You're addressing a tool problem. I'm suggesting it's not really a tool problem. ,:)

    SM, Agile Coach, Application Support

  • 11.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 12:12 PM
    I did note that it wasn't removed entirely and that it was just harder to get to. Yes, it is available more easily in the Iteration Tracking app. It should end there.  It can still be considered a tool problem, a work flow issue, even though you disagree with the core merits of the use case,

  • 12.  RE: Where did split go?
    Best Answer

    Posted 01-06-2020 12:38 PM
    Hi Mitch, Product Management say that it is on the backlog. It's below some of the more pressing things we have, but I have put a watch on the story to get notified if it gets changed. Hopefully, I will remember why I did that and then let you know.

    Rally Sales Engineer
    Rally Software

  • 13.  RE: Where did split go?

    Posted 01-06-2020 12:45 PM
    Thanks @Nik Antonelli! No worries if you don't get back to me. I'm sure I will notice if/when it reappears. I appreciate your assistance.​