How Agile Estimation Techniques Help Workload Management

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No doubt! It is crucial for any business for agile estimation. It is a must-go-in feature on various levels. You can pitch rightly if you do it with proper planning, estimation of the efforts, and management. This project can be anything from software development to mobile app development

The story point estimation is generally implemented in agile projects. It has been noted that all the A-lister brands are implementing the techniques such as affinity mapping, bucket system, planning poker, etc. 

Nowadays, businesses are using variant estimation templates for different levels. For example, they are implementing the templates for sprint plan template, release plan template, etc. 

Levels for agile estimation 

  • Proposal or project level

This is the basic level where one uses the analysis of the quick point function. It is employed at the initial phase to develop the project.

  • Release level

This is a place where you can assign the stories of the user. It can be positioned according to the priority. 

  • Sprint level

Here the stories of the user are fragmented into the tasks. The estimated hours can be calculated based on the complexity. Again, you can define the responsibility of the task. 

Below mentioned are the top techniques that you can try:-

Top Techniques 

  •  Distributing randomly

This technique is also termed as “ordering protocol.”  For this, you have to place the products from low to high order.

It would be best if you gave one team member a chance to choose. Then, they can move the product/ project (down or up). But can only move one spot. They can even discuss or pass the product. The process will be complete once every team member is done with their turn. 

  • Planning poker

In this technique, you must make people sit in a circle and then start the session for Planning Poker. Each calculator should be posed with the cards. It must be given the values as follows: “0,1,2,3,5,8,13,20,40 and 100”. These values are story points. It calculates and provides team estimates. 


Source: Ruby Garage

At the initial session, the customer or the product owner will read the story of the user. Here they would be describing the requirement as well as the features. Once the story is revealed clearly, the discussion may start. It will be between the estimators and the customers (the product owner). The estimators can raise their doubts or clarify their queries. 

Once the discussion ends, you can ask all the estimators to pick a card. Suppose the estimators opt for the same value; this is the final estimation. Now, if a contrary situation arises, the estimators are asked to give explanations. Now, these values can be either lowest or highest. The process will continue until the consensus is accomplished. 

This technique is suitable for small team sizes and smaller estimations. 

  •  T-shirt sizing

Let us understand simply by taking the case of T-shirts. Now, it’s true that T-shirts are now available in free size. But when we go to purchase, we purchase according to our body (size) type. For skinny people, XS (Extra small sizes), XL for extra large size people). Similarly, there are sizes like S, M, L, XXL. In this technique, we have to follow a similar approach. The products are estimated according to the sizes of T-shirts. 

T Shirt sizing

Source: Miro Medium

It is the best technique that gives a rough estimation. It specifically highlights the large backlogs of the product. It is beneficial when the process must be done quickly or requires a rough estimate. Further, the sizes are converted into numbers. This is as per the need.

The sizes in relative (more specific in medium) are chosen hereafter for the mutual discussion. It will be as per the agreement of the estimators or members of the team. 

Then you must assign the numbers to the products. Again, this is as per the relative size.

The major drawback of this technique is what seems extra large for somebody may seem large to others. 

  1. Affinity Mapping

This technique works best when the size of the team is small. It is relatively best also when the number of products in backlog is comparatively less. 

Source: Software Testing Help

The initial process is to distribute the values based on relative sizing. For this, you have to place the card with a smaller value on the left side. Similarly, place the card with a higher value on the right side. Then, the owner of the product will brush all the participants about the subsets of the products.

It would be best if you asked all the participants to put the sizes of every item. It must be relative to the values of the card. Now, these cards belong to the wall which you have placed in the last step. The participants solely make the decision. The stakeholder or the owners can present their clarification or doubts. The products that are too ambiguous are placed separately. This entire process takes 5-20 minutes. 

  • Wall edits: The members of the team can replace the positions of the products on the wall. They can initiate the discussions according to design. And later can implement the demands with other members. You can close the activity when you see minute changes on the wall. This process will take about 20-60 minutes. 
  • Setting the products at the right locations: After having a detailed discussion, the team can place the backlog products at their appropriate location. Here, we can opt for techniques such as the Fibonacci series, T-shirt sizing to estimate the size of the product. 
  • Challenges of product owners: The owners may face some discrepancies. They can always initiate the discussion and explain the features and benefits of the product. 
  • Exporting to the management tool of Project Backlog: To ensure that you do not lose the information related to the final estimation, it is better that you export that to a tool. 
  • Bucket System

This technique is good for large products and participants. It is quicker and more reasonable in comparison to Planning Poker. Again the buckets are developed with values “0,1,2,3,4,5,8,13,20,30,50,100, and 200.” These values can be extended.

 Let’s check a simple example in the image given below. 


Source: Agile Digest

These buckets are cards that represent the values. It is arranged on the table sequentially. The stories must be located here. Thus, the estimators can find them more suitably. Finally, the estimated items are put down on the card.

Choose any product randomly and place it in bucket no. 8. It is only for reference. Similarly, randomly choose another product. Discuss with the teammates about the requirements and features and place this in the suitable bucket upon consensus. Again, select the third one and follow the same procedures. 

You can change the sequence of the bucket in case of any doubt. For example, you can place the product from bucket 8 to Bucket 1. All the other products are distributed between the participants. The participants can transfer the product if they do not understand the backlog item. 

Finally, a sanity check is done. Here, if any participant has a wrong bucket, further discussion can be brought to notice. It will be done till consensus is achieved. 

In a nutshell

You, as a business owner, must understand that estimations play a huge role in agile projects. For this, you must have crisp planning, management, and directions. For example, suppose you have plans to develop software projects such as Android app development or web app development. Then, make sure to contact an adept team for your project. 

Author’s bio

The author is a Sr. mobile app developer at MobileCoderz Technologies, the leading mobile app development company. She has launched numerous software and projects for many enterprises, start-ups using agile estimation. In her free time, she loves to travel and explore new places. 

How Agile Estimation Techniques Help Workload Management

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