How Do We Estimate?

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Different kinds of estimation are tricky concepts to grasp when all you’re used to is estimating work in time. Time metrics are simple to organizations, but it isn’t an accurate way of measurement and prediction. 


One example of a different way to measure a task (we refer to them as stories) is through relative sizing. This looks like labeling a task either small, medium, or large, like shirt sizes. This can obviously be modified with XS and XL, giving the estimators specificity, but the general benefits of metrics. We often use relative sizing metrics for large projects that have multiple stories attached to them. We use relative sizing metrics for the times where there are so many items on the backlog and we want to quickly estimate all of the items. For the times in which we don’t have to estimate a large volume of backlog items, we use planning poker.


Planning poker is a type of metric used in Agile frameworks that uses the exponential rate of the fibonacci sequence and each team member estimates the effort level of a story using the fibonacci sequence. You then take the average of each person’s estimate and that is the estimate of that item. This allows for a more balanced way to estimate a story but it takes a little longer and so is only efficient in smaller doses.


If you want to dig a bit deeper into the two methods of estimation we teach Scrum teams – affinity sizing and planning poker, you should take a look at our recorded webinar on these two techniques.