Agile Estimation Units (revisited)

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You will need agile estimation units if you do an agile project [bibcite key=”citeulike:8925165″]. (Unless you have joined the #NoEstimates movement.) Agile methods tend to be based on some form of effort estimation and follow up. Scrum for instance relies on Earned Value Management [bibcite key=”citeulike:5890054″] for many of its practices.

A team estimating their next iteration using planning poker. What agile estimation units are they using?

A team estimating their next iteration using planning poker. What agile estimation units are they using? By Improve IT used under CC BY-SA 2.0

IMHO the estimation units can be fairly arbitrary as long as they are fairly accurate, reasonably easy to estimate and are not used for secondary purposes (e.g. salary reviews).

Examples of Agile Estimation Units

Here are a few examples of estimation units I have encountered in practice:

  • Thousands of lines of code (kLoC)
  • Story Points (SP)
  • Ideal Developer Days (IDD)
  • Man Days (MD)
  • Man Hours (MH)

Or why not use coffee cups? I’ve never actually heard of anyone using Coffee Cups as Agile Estimation Units but as I pointed out in a previous post, there are many advantages to using them for this purpose.

Selecting Agile Estimation Units

When you select an estimation unit for your team. Consider the following:

  • How much effort is it? Would it be worth the effort? (Not the effort you’re estimating – the estimated effort to introduce a new estimation unit.)
  • How much better would your estimates become?

See [bibcite key=”citeulike:8925165″] if you need a more complete checklist on what you should consider when selecting agile estimation units.



Image sources

About Greger Wikstrand

Greger Wikstrand, Ph.D. M.Sc. is a TOGAF 9 certified enterprise architect with an interest in e-heatlh, m-health and all things agile as well as processes, methods and tools. Greger Wikstrand works as a consultant at Capgemini where he alternates between enterprise agile coaching, problem solving and designing large scale e-health services ...


  1. Pingback: Agile Estimation Units - Agile Project Manager

  2. Glen ALLEMAN

    The post about Agile and EV has some later references than you have
    College of Performance Management is an organization focused on “performance Management” but has moved to include Agile development. is a compendium of the topic is the current guidance for integrated EVM with Agile in defense programs is the desk guide for applying EVM and remaining compliant with EIA-748-C are the briefings for a meeting I spoke at for integrating EVM with Agile “… a Match Made in Heaven” is more focused on contracting and the Agile Roadmap to the integration.

    There are many resources on this integrating, but the key concept is Agile doesn’t provide any Estimate To Complete or Estimate at Completion in dollars or time. EV does. So putting them together gets you both sides of the equation – SEDev and Business Management

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment and for your effort in compiling these links. I really appreciate this.

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