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Creativity, efficiency and accuracy

It’s Estimation Time!

Estimation in Scrum divides opinions, but if everyone agrees on something, it is that it is difficult to be precise when establishing delivery times.

For quite a while, the teams and companies that have made the choice of using Agile Methodologies have been seeking to improve their team performance, without sacrificing human or product quality.

We did some research on different ways and methods to get your estimation done properly and here are the results:

Scrum Delphi

Delphi is a technique that provides a group with an anonymous estimation of how much work will be involved, and how long it will take to complete a Backlog item.

These estimations are revealed and plotted on a graph. After the reveal, the team members explain the causes that influenced their anonymous deadlines. Following the first round, the process starts again and will be repeated until the team’s estimations are close to each other. Only then, the final schedule can be reached. That is how you get your final estimation with Delphi.

Planning Poker

The poker method derives from the Delphi technique. Each team member is given a set of cards with numbers on them. The numbers are usually in the Fibonacci sequence: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21.

When everyone has his or her card, the next step is for the Product Owner to reveal the Backlog’s user stories that represent the customer’s requirements. Then, the team members must define a level of difficulty for that Backlog item.

Each person will choose a number that reveals the level of effort they think the task will take. Members who choose the highest and lowest numbers will need to explain why.

Once everyone defines a number, they will have to re-estimate based on the new insights discussed until reaching the perfect estimation.

Dot Voting

A formula without too many tricks. This technique is used to evaluate a small set of user stories, between 8 and 10. Each team member has a series of “points”. They can use them to evaluate items they consider most complex.

The item with the highest points will be categorized and removed from the list. The process will continue so on and so forth until all items have been labeled.

Bucket System

This technique is also derived from Delphi, and like Planning Poker, is based on a numerical sequence. Each member of the team will have a series of numbers and they will have to put them into baskets or buckets with the labels of the backlog tasks. Each person must rate the difficulty of the task with numbers. At the end, the buckets are emptied and everyone analyzes if they could reach an agreement. If many differences are found, the process must be repeated.

Estimation by Affinity

Affinity estimation is an ideal technique for quickly estimating a large number of user stories.

Using sticky notes, index cards, or post-its, the team places the backlog items on a wall or some other surface. Each member of the team receives some of the tokens that match to each user story (backlog item) and then place them on a board.

This first step is done quietly. Once everyone has posted their User Stories on the wall, the team can change them.

Finally, the Product Owner will indicate small, medium, or large categories using story point values to indicate a relative size. As a final step, each card will be consensually placed in a category.

T-Shirt Sizes

This estimation technique is based on assigning shirt sizes (XS, S, M L, XL) instead of using numbers.

It is another option of estimation in Scrum by affinity. Each member of the team must link the items analyzed, with the size of the shirt: If they consider that an activity is complex, risky and difficult, they will place it with the XL size. On the contrary, an activity that they consider simple can be placed in the XS category.

All of these methods are similar. The important thing is to select the most appropriate for each company and try to improve project by project.

Are you ready to give it a try?

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