Splitting user stories – Hamburger Method for OPS Team? 

OPS Burger

Lary and “The OPPies”

Recently I had the chance to support Larry, a colleague of mine, regarding agile planning. He is head of a team of platform specialists who are responsible for certain platforms and did this in the past with classical project management; distributing the tasks and working more or less individually on them until a new platform had been established. 

The downside of this approach is obvious and I’m not going to get into this now here. The fact is, that Larry approached with a little bit of support. He had already decided to do way more teamwork with the team and thus started with an agile approach. Namely, the team went from “no task management at all” to “monthly sprints” – However we’re not talking Scrum here, which is perfectly fine in my perspective as long as there is continuous optimization. And to my absolute delight, Larry did incorporate a small retrospective after the monthly sprint, great! 

Yes we sprint, but how

So back to the core issue. The team is still learning on the go and now a new sprint needs to be planned. Based on an external project the team needs to engineer and install a completely new platform – for the techy readers here, it’s Rabbit MQ. As with every project, there were also many special requirements besides traditional messaging. In the complex landscape of Larry’s company, the team also needed to build custom adapters for Rabbit MQ, integrate them into the corporate logging environment, and so on.  

The team, so motivated to be able to get to know new technology, created user stories that looked like this:  

  • Concept – Create a concept, how to integrate the platform 
  • Installation – Install the platform 
  • Integration – Create Logging integration 
  • Security – Handle Security 
  • Test and Deployment 

Of course, this is a simplified statement of the user stories but I guess you do see the trend.  

Say hello to the hamburger

So, finally coming to the part of the Hamburger – Speaking in those terms the team did slice the different parts of the hamburger horizontally, which is more of the classical way of structuring work by feature or technology. But honestly, who wants to eat only bread first, then the salad? And then the meat? And then the cucumber? And finally, there is sauce also! 😉 

So this was actually my recommendation to Larry > Google “Hamburger Story Slicing“, distribute this to your team members, and try to slice the burger vertically!  

To illustrate, with the visualization of a burger, this is how the initial proposal for the user stories looked like:  

With this approach, you might not have the cucumber and the sauce in the first bite but you will have bread as first and last and might give the user a bit of meat in between, maybe with a very simple sauce and no cucumber at all. (Yes I do like cucumber in my burger). And what did I hear first? Another classic reply like “This might work for your simple software engineering world but this is operations – a totally different world”.  

“Is this so?”, I asked Larry and challenged him, to give it a try. After implementing this with his team Larry was astonished about the result. It did work!  

The OPS-Burger

Another simplified version of how it looked like for the sprint planning of the OPS team.  

OPS Burger

So, what do you think of the OPS Burger? Enjoy!

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