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Spike Story

What is a Spike Story, what advantages does it offer and how is its effort estimated?

The removal of uncertainties in Scrum

The term “spike” can be interpreted as “sting” or “thorn”. Stings and thorns can hurt. It is similar in the figurative sense in software development with functional and/or technical uncertainties: they are unpleasant, risky, difficult to calculate and predict. Scrum offers the use of spike stories – also called spike for short – for such uncertainties.

A spike story is a limited mandate to analyse a problem, to collect information with the aim of reducing uncertainties and thus project risks. As a result, a spike story is supposed to provide one or more answers; therefore, it also differs from the classical user story, which contributes productively to the achievement of the sprint goal and the creation of the increment.

Advantages of Spike Storys

Basically, spike stories offer the following advantages

  • in the calculation of user stories,
  • in the minimisation of risks,
  • understanding individual backlog items.

Effort estimation for Spike Storys

The effort of a spike story is not estimated, but the development team commits itself to invest a certain amount of time to eliminate the uncertainty. The findings may then be used in the next Sprint Planning. It is also recommended to visualise the spike story as such on the taskboard.

 

Spike Story - limited mission to analyse a problem or to collect information

Notes:

Even if the term Spike Story does not appear in the Scrum Guide, it is a common tool in agile development. Also velocity or taskboard are not mentioned in the Scrum Guide.
Often in the context of the Spike Story the term Technical Story is also used.

 

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