What are story points?

Story points are typically expressed as a numerical value, with each value representing a different level of effort and complexity.

Story points are a unit of measurement used in Scrum to estimate the complexity of a particular user story or task. They are used to gauge how much work is involved in completing a particular task and are based on factors such as the effort required, technical complexity, and risk involved.

Scrum teams use story points to estimate the amount of work that can be completed in a given sprint. During backlog refinement, the team assigns a certain number of story points to each backlog item or user story. After that, in sprint planning they pull as many backlog items or user stories they expect to complete during the sprint. The team then uses these estimates to determine how much work they can realistically complete within the sprint time frame.

Story points are typically expressed as a numerical value, with each value representing a different level of effort and complexity. For example, a user story with a score of 1 might represent a simple task that can be completed quickly, while a story with a score of 5 might represent a more complex task that will require more time and effort.

It’s important to note that story points are not based on time estimates, but rather on relative complexity. This means that a task with a higher story point value may take longer to complete than a task with a lower story point value, but this is not always the case. Instead, story points are a way for Scrum teams to estimate the amount of work involved in completing a particular task, so that they can better plan and manage their workload during a sprint.

Story points estimations

Story point estimation is used to estimate the relative size or effort required to complete a specific user story or backlog item. By using  story point estimation during backlog refinement Scrum teams can evaluate  the amount of work that can be completed in a given sprint. The team assigns each backlog item or user story a certain number of story points based on its level of complexity, effort required, technical risk involved, and other factors.

The estimation is usually done using a point system, such as the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.), where each number represents a different level of complexity or effort required. For example, a task with a score of 1 would be relatively simple and straightforward, while a task with a score of 13 would be much more complex and require significantly more effort to complete.

It’s important to note that story point estimations are not based on time estimates. Instead, they are based on relative complexity, allowing the team to better plan and manage their workload during a sprint. The aim is to provide an accurate estimation of the work involved, which can help the team to prioritise the work and set realistic goals for the sprint.

how to estimate story points using planning poker?

Planning poker is a technique used in Scrum to estimate the effort required to complete a user story or backlog item. It involves the team members discussing the requirements of the user story and then simultaneously voting on the story point estimation using a deck of cards.

Here are the steps to estimate story points using planning poker:

Explain the user story

The Product Owner should explain the user story to the team and answer any questions that the team may have.

Distribute planning poker cards

Give each team member a deck of planning poker cards. Each card should have a number on it that corresponds to a story point value, such as the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.)

Simultaneously vote on story points

Each team member should select a planning poker card that they believe reflects the effort required to complete the user story. Once everyone has selected a card, reveal the cards simultaneously.

Discuss discrepancies

If there is a significant difference in the story point values assigned by team members, the team should discuss the discrepancies and try to reach a consensus on the appropriate value. Usually The ones with highest and lowest value provide their arguments for choosing this value

Repeat the process

Repeat the process of discussing and voting on story points until the team reaches a consensus on the appropriate story point value. Normally a team should reach consensus after three rounds.

By using planning poker to estimate story points, the team can collaborate effectively and ensure that everyone has a common understanding of the effort required to complete a user story or backlog item. This helps the team to better plan their sprints and ensure that they are able to complete the work within the given time frame. You can learn more about planning poker by reading our dedicated page about planning poker here.

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