Thursday, 9 July 2015

Body scanner estimation

9 out of 10 coaches agree: Estimating is not about the numbers, but about the dialogue.
Even though, many teams find themselves discussing a meager difference in story points - often to the point of frustrated sighs - while the technical details are long clarified.

Today, I have been listening to an explanation of story point estimation. The team was just discussing a list of criteria to judge stories by, and I couldn't help but think: "What if we just cut to the dialogue instead of dealing with points, and used the criteria to encourage it?"

That thought led to a quasi-algorithmic way of estimating, quickly dubbed "Body scanner estimation" by my colleague Ilja Preuß (@ipreuss on twitter).

How to play

1. Discussing the story itself, and answer any questions.
2. Answer all of the following questions with either Yes or No.
    • Inside/Outside
      • Do we need to pull support or input from outside the team?
      • Does it affect outside systems?
      • Do we need to share knowledge about the results?
      • Does it need management approval?
    • Knowledge/Skill
      • Does it need specialized knowledge? (Or can any of us do it?)
      • Is this story the first of its kind for our team?
      • Is it very time consuming?
      • Is it annoying to complete?
    • Technical
      • Do we have technical debt in the vincinity?
      • Does the change ripple throughout our system?
      • Do we need to set up testing infrastructure?
      • Do we need to set up build infrastructure?
3. Now, count the number of "Yes" and add 1 as the base cost.
4. Round the result to the nearest number from Fibonacci's sequence to get your estimation.
5. Sanity check the result.

This method of estimation gives teams a handrail to work with, with questions to spark further thought and discussion.

I yet to try Body scanner estimation, so I am eager to hear of your results. Do the questions make sense to you? Did you add some of your own?
More importantly, though, did you come up with a fresh way of estimating lately? 
Let us know in the comments.