The perils of estimation

“the more detailed you estimate, the more the total will tend towards infinity”

Dan North & Associates

Business people want estimates. They want to know how much it’s going to cost them to get a solution, and they want to know how likely it is to come in on time and on budget. And of course quality is not negotiable.

Agile teams I encounter are at best nervous about estimates and at worst simply evasive. “You don’t need estimates if you’re doing Agile,” they say. “It will be ready when it’s done. We’re constantly adding value so we don’t need to commit to a date.”

We’re missing the point of release planning

My favourite exchange goes something like:

“We’ve done an inception and broken down the entire project into stories and measured it, and it’s come in at 400 stories, estimated at 865 story points.”

“865 what?”

“865 story points.”

“So how big is a story point?”

“We don’t know yet, we’ll let you know in…

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