Decomposition - Stories

31 prog-decomposition-features

Decomposition of features into stories is a key step for each team to be able to commit to the functionality to be delivered with each sprint of development activity.

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Related Mindset:






Prioritized list of program features from the program portfolio


User stories mapping to program features and epics

The Scaled Agile Framework® defines two types of requirements at this level: stories and enablers:

  • Stories are short, simple descriptions of a small piece of desired functionality, written in the user’s language. Each story supports incremental development by implementing a small, vertical slice of system functionality.1
  • Enablers further the exploration, infrastructure, and architecture development activities needed to support future business functionality. Enablers arise from the backlog and occur at all levels of the framework where they are described as enabler portfolio epics, enabler capabilities, enabler features, or enabler stories.1

For more information on how stories and enablers are structured, defined, and estimated, you can review the following abstract from the Scaled Agile Framework®:

Common Pitfalls

When organizations adopt an agile development process, there are common pitfalls to avoid in order to have the best chance at success.

  • Stories are too detailed - Stories should only provide enough information to be able to arm the team with enough information to solve a problem. When stories have too much information too early, the solution is likely to change before the story can be absorbed into a PI event.
  • Stories are too large - A story should describe functionality that will take less than one sprint to develop. If a story is larger than one sprint, it will need to be broken down into multiple, smaller stories.
  • Cross-iteration requirements - If teams are either planning to address functionality across multiple iterations, or if teams find it hard to complete stories with a single iteration, the stories might not be granular enough. In these cases, organizations might need to look at breaking features into smaller units.


  • Scaled Agile Inc., SAFe® 4.0 Glossary, Licensed Usage.