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7. Techniques

7.19 Story Elaboration

Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide

Story Elaboration is used to define the detailed design and acceptance criteria for a story as needed to deliver a working solution.

Story Elaboration is the lowest level of Story Decomposition and the process by which the story is broken down into pieces of work. Story Elaboration facilitates the elicitation and communication of the most detailed requirements.

Story Elaboration is an ongoing activity which occurs in the Delivery Horizon (for more information, see 6. Delivery Horizon). Wasted effort is reduced by elaborating stories on a just-in-time and just-enough basis. Business analysis practitioners continually develop and communicate dynamic requirements, and this necessitates a high degree of skill in both facilitation and communication.

During each iteration, time is scheduled to expand on the story to understand the detail. Often, this is completed in a workshop with those who will execute the story: subject matter experts, the customer representative who needs the story, the person who will test the story, and a business analysis practitioner who facilitates and challenges the story. Story Elaboration is completed in preparation for the Planning Workshop (for more information, see 7.8. Planning Workshops).

In order to ensure detailed requirements include the most current feedback on learning, Story Elaboration is done on a just-in-time basis for stories that have been determined to be in scope for the upcoming iteration.

.1 Elicitation

Elicitation is the drawing forth or receiving of information from stakeholders or other sources.

.2 Story Decomposition

Story Elaboration can identify opportunities to decompose stories (for more information, see 7.18. Story Decomposition).

.3 Acceptance Criteria

Story Elaboration clarifies, adds, or removes acceptance criteria for a story (for more information, see BABOK® Guide: 10.1 Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria).

.4 Additional Optional Elements

Story Elaboration may identify tasks to deliver the upcoming iteration. These outputs may include

  • task definitions and breakdowns,

  • examples and scenarios to explain the customer's intent for the story,

  • low-fidelity models to clarify the technical or process design (for example, data models and data flow diagrams),

  • screen or report mock-ups, and

  • input/output data tables.


The result of Story Elaboration is a shared understanding among stakeholders of what should be delivered to achieve the “Done” state for this story.

.1 Strengths

  • Reduces elicitation time, and potentially less documentation, by focusing on current features.

  • Elaborating requirements only as needed helps the team avoid the work of eliciting requirements for features that will change by the time they are ready for implementation.

  • Keeps the team focused on the highest priority feature.

.2 Limitations

  • Incomplete elaboration can lead to too many or too few details for a story to be completed.

  • Proper timing is difficult. If conducted too early, the information may no longer be correct for the given release and will need to be re-elicited. However, when collected too late, it can delay project team progression to development.

  • It can be challenging to elicit the appropriate level of detail such that the requirements can be developed, tested, and compared to acceptance criteria.