What are Estimations in Scrum

Scrum Estimation is a team-driven approach with the purpose of forecasting the effort needed to complete each user story.

Agile Methodology offers different frameworks, with Scrum as the most well-known. A key area of scrum is Scrum Estimation. Scrum Estimation is a team-driven approach with the purpose of forecasting the effort needed to complete each user story – a concise description of a feature from the perspective of the end customer.

During the Sprint Planning Meeting, the Scrum team analyses user stories according to their priority and the team’s capacity to deliver within the Sprint’s timebox. The Product Owner ensures that the prioritised user stories are clear, ready for estimation, and positioned at the top of the Product Backlog. As the Scrum team is collectively accountable for the delivery of the product increment, they carefully select user stories based on the size of the Product Increment and the associated effort.

The Importance of Estimations in Scrum

Estimation in Scrum is not just about predicting the time and effort required for a task; it is a multifaceted process that plays a significant role in the success of the project. Here are a few reasons why estimation is crucial in Scrum:

Transparency and Predictability: Accurate estimates increase the transparency of the project progress and enhance predictability. They allow stakeholders to have a clear understanding of when the deliverables can be expected.

Resource Allocation: Estimations help in effective resource allocation. They guide the Scrum team in deciding how to distribute resources optimally across various tasks and user stories.

Risk Management: By providing an early indication of the effort and time required, estimations help identify potential risks and bottlenecks. This early risk identification allows the team to devise mitigation strategies in advance.
Prioritisation: Estimations also aid in prioritising tasks. User stories with higher estimates might be more complex or larger, which could influence their position in the product backlog.

Estimation Technique: Planning Poker

Among the various estimation techniques offered by Scrum, Planning Poker is particularly noteworthy. It is a consensus-based technique involving the entire Scrum team, yielding quick yet reliable estimates.

In Planning Poker, team members use a deck of cards, each number denoting the story points based on the Fibonacci sequence. Once the Product Owner has answered all questions regarding the user story, team members individually select a card representing their estimate. Only when everyone has estimated, all cards are revealed simultaneously. Discrepancies in estimates lead to discussions, and the process is repeated until a consensus is achieved on a single estimate.

The Power of Planning Poker

Planning Poker is a comprehensive technique that combines three estimation methods: Expert Opinion, Analogy, and Disaggregation. This triad of methods makes Planning Poker a versatile tool suitable for a variety of scenarios.

Expert Opinion: This aspect leans on team members’ experience and intuition. It is a quick process and often yields accurate estimates as it relies on the knowledge and expertise of the team members.

Analogy: This method involves comparing the user story under estimation with similar user stories implemented in the past. This comparison-based approach often results in accurate results, as the estimation is founded on proven data.

Disaggregation: This involves breaking down a larger user story into smaller, more manageable chunks for estimation. This method ensures comparability among stories and is particularly useful when dealing with complex user stories.

By harmonising these methods, Planning Poker offers a balanced approach to estimation, capturing the strengths of diverse estimation methods while mitigating their individual limitations. As a result, it promotes more accurate and reliable estimates, leading to better project predictability and success.

Conclusion

Scrum Estimation plays a pivotal role in the Scrum framework, fostering team collaboration and enhancing project predictability. Among its diverse techniques, Planning Poker shines for its robustness and versatility. By using this method, teams can effectively navigate the estimation process, ensuring they can deliver high-value products in a timely manner, leading to satisfied customers and successful project outcomes.

If you want to learn more about planning poker read our resource on planning poker here.

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