Xpanse Inc
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Xpanse Inc

Concepts and Sample Frameworks for Software Forecasting

Part 2 of Democratizing Operational Excellence: Developing Competitive Advantage in Software Forecasting

Estimation, Capacity, Sizings, and Forecasting

Story Point Sizing

Story Point Sizing Table

Story point sizing framework
Story point sizing framework

Planning Poker

Planning Poker Cards

Improving Sizing With Estimation of Capacity

Capturing plan vs actuals in sizings to get better at estimating

Notable observations

  1. Team A consistently expects their capacity to complete work is greater than it is. Their average actual, per contributor, is several points of work below their plan. They don’t appear to be learning over time, perhaps because they aren’t looking at their data.
  2. Team B actuals very closely match their plan. They are learning from their past to better predict their future.

Leveraging this data to iteratively improve forecasting

  1. By tracking the stats on their actuals, they can feed that into their predictions for the next sprint. Team A clearly isn’t practicing this approach. Team B clearly is.
  2. Team A has no clear estimate of its capacity. Team B has an excellent estimate. Since the variability of actuals is high on Team A, their future predictions will likely continue to be off. They should focus on understanding the variations in output.

Confidence Level Framework

A framework for advancing confidence level throughout the development lifecycle
A framework for advancing confidence level throughout the development lifecycle

Gantt 2.0 Visualizing Confidence and Risk in Timeline

The Gantt Chart Fail

  1. Show the end date as a date interval (a range of earliest to latest probably dates) and color the bar with risk
  2. Include text in the Gantt bar showing confidence level and color the bar with risk

Gantt Fail

Fail: no confidence or risk data. Just the date.

Gantt Win

Win: confidence and risk never separated from date



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Dave Thomas

Engineering and Consumer Platform Leader @Xpanse; Product design, technology platform strategy, and ground fighting geek in Seattle