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No Estimates

OK... I'm going to be honest... The title No estimates is a little misleading... But I wanted to jump on the #NoEstimates band wagon to increase my SEO rankings! But do please read on... You still might find it useful.

I was talking to a ex-colleague tonight about the use of Fibonacci number sequences when estimating tasks..... The Fibonacci (or modified Fibonacci) sequence is often used for story pointing and if your breaking stories down into tasks and then estimating the tasks in hours.. It's good practice to still use the same sequence.... So if you think a task will be 6 hours you round up to 8! (The modified Fibonacci sequence is 1,2,3,5,8,13,20,40,100)

I find estimating hours on tasks extremely useful with new teams... It's a very good way of encouraging a culture of breaking tasks down smaller.... I was working with one team where tasks were being estimated in sometimes hundreds of hours! In some cases tasks were spreading over multiple sprints... That's an extreme example but it's one where estimation of tasks becomes useful because it clearly shows that tasks are too large and encourages better task break down...  Imposing simple polices such as a maximum size of a task being 8 hours should lead to better story breakdown, better task breakdown, increased visibility and increased work flow.

However... When your team gets to the point where tasks are usually no bigger than half a day or perhaps a day at most... Is there still value in estimating? Or is it an additional unnecessary overhead?

I would suggest that if your team has the maturity of breaking stories into tasks which are a few hours to a day at max.... Then perhaps you can move away from estimating.

You can still do a sprint burn-down chart (For the record I'm not actually a great fan of the sprint burn-down.... But thats for a separate blog) But instead of burning down hours burn down tasks.... If you've got a 100 tasks over a 2 week sprint you should be averaging 10 a day - You should find that it has a very similar accuracy to burning down hours.... Without the overhead of estimation!

Thanks for reading,

Christian Miles

PS. Also check out my article.. In defence of story points and estimates! http://christianleemiles.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/are-story-points-still-relevant.html