Can you combine traditional and agile estimation? There is nothing magical about “classical” estimation. There are a few basic concepts to keep track of:
- Bottom up versus top down
- Expert estimation versus parametric estimation
- Best – worst – expected case
I think the most common method for traditional estimation is to go top-down using successive estimation which means that when something is to big or uncertain, you break it down into component tasks and estimate them recursively. If you are familiar with Planning Poker you can easily combine it with this approach:
- Start with your user stories + other backlog items then FOR EACH
- Estimate it with PP, if too big or to wide spread it is an Epic. Break it down into smaller stories (this creates your WBS) and GOTO 2
- Now that your item is sufficiently small, think about the worst case and estimate it again
- Now think about the best case, estimate again
- Calculate the weighted average as (best + 4* “normal” + worst) / 6
Not so different from “pure” Planning Poker, is it? There are a few improvements you can do though — instead of using three estimates for each item, you could use the spread of estimates you already have from PP as a basis for your probability distribution.
I often hear the same complaint about Agile Retrospectives: They are not held at the right level in the organization! Or, at least, that is the conclusion that people draw from one fact: Many issues brought up in the Retrospective need resolution at a much higher level in the organization. There is no one in the room who can address or resolve them. Continue reading
Sometimes, people tell me that “Agile is not appropriate” in this or that context. I believe that’s plain wrong. Agile, as seen from the basic principles, is always appropriate. That doesn’t mean that all versions of agile are appropriate in all situations. And it doesn’t mean that you will be sucessful just because you use agile. And saying that you are agile doesn’t mean that you are. Are you agile? Perhaps this is the source of the confusion?
Laurie Williams has presented a “top thirty” list of key agile practices. The list defines what you need to do to be seen as being agile. Continuous integration, short iterations and done criteria are at the top of the list. Continue reading
So people keep talking about the Agile – Waterfall dichotomy. About agile and un-agile practices. I decided to have an unscientific look at what Agile isn’t. If there is a true dichotomy between Agile and Waterfall, then things opposite of Agile should be either entirely out of scope for projects and software development or they should be characteristic of Waterfall methods. And since anyone would bother to mention them in the context of Agile, one would assume that this would be because they are distinguishing between Agile and Waterfall. Continue reading
When I perform Agile Training I do it as a part of a larger Agile Coaching engagement with a customer. I do it as a directed intervention based on my ongoing diagnostic of how things are actually working at this point in time, with this client. I am a huge believer in just-in-time training or even, just-a-little-to-late training. Continue reading
How good is the link between agile research and practice? Not good enough I guess. Follow this interesting discusison on LinkedIN.
What’s an Agile Driver? I have always been driving kind of ad hoc. Getting from A to B with no particular plan. If I were a programmer you would call it “cowboy coding” but I’m not, so we can call it “cowboy driving”. People, everyone it seemed — my boss, my wife, my children, the odd passengers — were all complaining that I needed to use sound engineering principles and state of the art equipment to improve my driving skills. “It will help you get from level 1 to level 2 or even 3 as a driver”, they said. Continue reading
Which agile estimation units should you use? You can use any arbitrary units to estimate backlog items in an agile project. It does not matter if you do your estimation with story points, ping pong balls, man days, man hours, kLoCs. After a while your teams will converge on a common understanding of what the units mean. Continue reading