9 Agile Estimation Techniques

If the time-constraint is reached and the Scrum Team does not understand the story it is a sign that the story has to be re-written. It works best with a small group of people and a relative small number of items. One of the team members is selected as the Moderator. The decision about the size is based on an open and mutual collaborative discussion. Click Try it free and you'll be directed to generate a new license. The Planning Game is also used any time that there is a change in the list of user stories: A high estimate usually means that the story is not well understood in detail or should be broken down into multiple smaller stories.

1. Planning Poker

What is Planning Poker?

Many people have used a variation of Planning Poker to do Agile estimation. Here is a reference of 9 different Agile estimation techniques for different circumstances. I have seen all of these techniques work in practice, except one. Try a new one each Sprint! Participants use specially-numbered playing cards to vote for an estimate of an item.

Voting repeats with discussion until all votes are unanimous. There are lots of minor variations on Planning Poker. Good technique to estimate a very small number of items 2 to The Bucket System can also be used with larger groups than Planning Poker and with very large numbers of items to be estimated 50 to For super-fast Agile estimation, the items to be estimated are simply placed by the group in one of three categories: The group starts by discussing a few together, and then, like the Bucket System, uses divide-and-conquer to go through the rest of the items.

I learned this one recently from someone in one of my CSPO classes. Dot voting is usually considered a decision-making tool, not an Agile estimation technique. However, for estimating small numbers of items, dot voting can be a super-simple and effective technique.

Items are categorized into t-shirt sizes: The sizes can, if needed, be given numerical values after the estimation is done. This is a very informal technique, and can be used quickly with a large number of items. Usually, the decisions about the size are based on open, collaborative discussion, possibly with the occasional vote to break a stalemate. There is a brief description of T-Shirt Sizes here. Items are grouped by similarity — where similarity is some dimension that needs to be estimated.

This is usually a very physical activity and requires a relatively small number of items 20 to 50 is a pretty good range. The groupings are then associated with numerical estimates if desired. A move involves one of the following actions: If everyone passes, the ordering is done. The group decides on a maximum size for items e. Each item is discussed to determine if it is already that size or less. If the item is larger than the maximum size, then the group breaks the item into sub-items and repeats the process with the sub-items.

This continues until all items are in the allowed size range. Agile estimation techniques are collaborative. All appropriate people are included in the process. For example the whole Scrum team participates in estimating effort of Product Backlog Items.

Collaborative techniques are also designed so that it is impossible to blame someone for an incorrect estimate: Agile estimation techniques are designed to be fast -er than traditional techniques and deliberately trade off accuracy. We are not trying to learn to predict the future… or get better at estimation.

Instead, we recognize that estimation is a non-value added activity and minimize it as much as possible. Most Agile estimation techniques use relative units. This takes advantage of the human capacity to compare things to each other and avoids our difficulty in comparing something to an abstract concept such as dollars or days. Please let me know in the comments and feel free to include a link!

Maybe we got the same trainer? Anyhow, this is the one I prefer as a concept. The idea is that if the team is not unanimous in judging a story as 1, meaning there is a NFC or TFB, even by one team member, the PO has some work to do. There is too much emphasis on that what the team does or does not these days, and not enough on the responsibilities of the PO. Oh well, the team marked that story as a 2 or 3, so I still did a good job.

If all stories were estimated as being a 1, velocity, team effort, productivity, and therefore the end result, would be achieved much faster and better. The team is being asked to place the items in one of these categories. The first step is to categorize the obvious items in the two extreme categories.

Next the group can discuss the more complex items. This is actually a simplification of the bucket system. The system is especially good to use in smaller groups with comparable items.

Next you can assign sizes to these 3 categories. This method is based on finding similarities in the estimated items. The team is asked to group them together.

Best way is to execute this is a visual way and order them form small groups to large. It works best with a small group of people and a relative small number of items. You can assign estimation numbers to the different groups. This is an exercise where you get an accurate image on the relative size of items.

This works best in a small group of expert. All items are placed in random order on a scale label ranging from low to high. Every participant is being asked to move one item on the scale. Each move is just one spot lower or one spot higher or pass the turn. This continues till no team member want to move items and passes their turn.

The ordering protocol is a method of getting fine grained size estimates. Works best with a relative small group of people and a large number of items. Please share your experiences with this below in the comments section.

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Planning Poker