Agile Estimating and Planning

For creating estimates that are quick, accurate and reliable

"Full of real-life examples most tutors don't have."

★★★★★
4.8 out of 5 (109 Reviews)

Agile Estimating and Planning is the online video course that shows you how to create meaningful estimates even for complex, long-term projects. More than 2,500 students have enjoyed this no-nonsense course that simplifies even the most uncertain planning situations.

The conflict around estimates

You’re familiar with the love-hate relationship of estimates: businesses demand them but agile teams see them as something stakeholders use against them. In complex agile projects, an estimate that feels like a strict commitment can feel like a stranglehold.

Creating an estimate that works for stakeholder and developers isn’t easy. You may already be experiencing some of the most common challenges:

You struggle to make accurate estimations: they either feel impossible to achieve, or over-inflated.

Stakeholders want you to estimate (and lock-down) scale, scope and cost even when requirements are vague.

Management pushes back on your estimates: they feel your team can complete more work more, and are disappointed when these unrealistic goals are not met.

Too much time is spent in planning meetings at the cost of building something.

Danny Lopez

Mike Cohn is an incredible teacher. His real world examples and analogies makes this complex material rather easy to comprehend. One of the most beneficial classes that I have completed. Looking forward to more classes by Mike Cohn!

Danny Lopez

Why These Problems Exist

These challenges can lead people to believe that:

  • Estimates don’t work, so we won’t do them.
  • They’re never accurate so we should just overestimate to be safe.
  • We just need to do more-detailed planning up front.

Which isn’t true and definitely isn’t agile.

Businesses need estimates to influence project selection, resource allocation, and to understand what will be delivered, when and at what cost.

This need isn’t going to go away.

So a team that refuses to estimate, creates hostility with stakeholders. But a team that overestimates damages trust. And teams that plan too much upfront will spend unnecessary effort pursuing artificially precise estimates, too early.

All of these approaches can all damage morale, increase time-to-market, put the emphasis on ‘quick’ at the expense of quality, and make the project miserable. Teams don’t feel trusted, customers feel ignored and product owners find it impossible to prioritize product backlog items.

The answer is to find the right process for estimating. A process that:

  • Encourages discussion
  • Removes bias
  • Is transparent
  • Produces reliable estimates
James Van Tuyl

Simplifies and clearly instructs us through complex planning This video course is brilliant. Each chapter has at least 1 quiz with a variety of question types (select best answer or multiple select etc) where we get instant feedback about our answers. During the course, I’ve covered a number of useful planning and estimating practices and tools, some of which are common place in most scrum teams (such as planning poker), but this course really gets back to the basics which helps me understand the theory reasons behind it, and identifies what’s really important. Since completing the course, I am much more confident with what tools I can use to plan and estimate my projects properly. Within this video course, Mike Cohn presents clearly and provides example scenarios. He draws comparisons which we can all relate to. I’ve been very impressed with the quality and clarity of the course and would highly recommend to my friends and colleagues.

James Van Tuyl

What You Get When You Join

  • Instant access to all content
  • 44 professionally-recorded videos
  • Exclusive access to the discussion area
  • 6 modules with quizzes to cement learning
  • Over 3 hours of content
  • 30 day money-back guarantee
  • Continuing Education Credits:
    4 Category B Scrum Alliance SEUs and 4 PMI PDUs.
  • All lessons delivered by Mike Cohn
  • Bitesize videos you can watch when you want
  • Lifetime access

Module 1: The Problem and Our Goal

Why is it so difficult to create estimates that have value for the business and developers? In this first module, you’ll discover:

  • The statistical theory behind why we underestimate how long tasks will take.
  • Why you can’t fight the Student-Syndrome that causes delays, but you can use systems to minimize its impact.
  • That it’s criminal to produce inaccurate estimates and how trying to be more precise is often the underlying cause.
  • How to build a flexible plan that can change as you go along, without changing the original estimate.

Module 2: Iteration Planning

Which product backlog items should you bring into an interation? Ones that meet the priorities of the Product Owner, and are achievable by the team. These lessons show you:

  • How to run an effective iteration planning meeting. Find out who should attend and the four steps you need to communicate and manage expectations.
  • The differences between velocity-driven and commitment-driven planning and when to use each one.
  • When velocity-driven planning can speed-up planning meetings but at a significant cost.
  • How to calculate how much work should be brought into an iteration so that the team doesn’t bring in too much or too little, and can handle uncertainty.

Module 3: Story Points and Ideal Days

This covers the key problem for estimating - how do we estimate real-world work without having all the details to hand? It comes down to being able to use story point or ideal days properly. In this module, you’ll learn:

  • Why estimating size and deriving duration is the key philosophy behind accurate estimates.
  • How to choose between using story points and ideal days for planning with your team.
  • Why you need to make sure you’re answering the right question when talking to management about ideal time.
  • How story point estimates can be used even if you don’t know all the information, and when you should defer estimating till you have the information you need.
  • Whether you should use story points to estimate in terms of the time or complexity of a task.

Module 4: Estimating The Product Backlog

This module walks you through the practicalities of estimating items on the product backlog so you know:

  • Why gut instinct isn’t a bad thing, and how triangulation can help estimates improve over time.
  • When to break down larger product backlog items and estimate smaller pieces, but avoid estimation inflation by breaking them down too much.
  • How to choose the right sequence of estimating numbers for your team.
  • How Planning Poker is a simple, fun game that strips out subjectivity, shines a light on hidden risks, and prevents personal bias from skewing the estimation.

Module 5: Release Planning

To be valuable, estimates have to work on long-term projects. Stakeholders want to know what will be delivered and in how many iterations. This module provides statistical techniques for improving stakeholder conversations and protecting the team against unrealistic expectations. After this module you can:

  • Use historic velocity to make accurate future estimates, using a statistical technique that prevents outlying data affect accuracy.
  • Make forecasts even when there is no historical velocity because the team is new, or new to agile.
  • Predict velocity when team size changes, and gather data to communicate the future of this change to management.
  • Communicate what’s possible when stakeholders request estimates for fixed dates, scope and cost (and in a way that makes them listen).

Module 6: Topics for Multi-Team Projects

You may need to create estimates when there are interactions and dependencies between multiple teams. To make this easier, this module shows you:

  • How to get consensus between teams about the common value of a unit of estimation.
  • Why you should create a common baseline, but avoid comparing team velocities.
  • How to facilitate a successful iteration planning with multiple teams.
  • Identify upcoming dependencies that may affect progress by considering 3 upcoming iterations at once.

Bonus: Discussion Area

As a member you also get access to a discussion area about the course. Have a specific question about any of the videos or applying them to your situation? Post it here, and receive the answer you need to get moving again.

This course is for you if:

  • You're a Project Manager and want to estimate and plan agile projects.This course covers all the important topics from estimating to iteration planning to release planning. You'll know how to produce fixed-date, fixed-scope, and fixed-price plans you can be confident in, as well as how to avoid anchoring and other common pitfalls.
  • You're about to be part of an agile project and need an expert understanding of agile estimating and planning.
  • You're a ScrumMaster. As the team’s coach, it’s important to understand how story points differ from hours, how to estimate quickly with Planning Poker, and the two approaches to iteration planning so you can help your team.
  • You're a Product Owner. Bosses, clients and customers come to you asking, “When can I get all of these features?” or “How much can I get by June?” You need ways to answer those questions. This course will show you how to answer those questions and many more.
  • You're a Team Leader. This will be your ultimate Agile Estimating & Planning “download” directly into your brain. Remember, this course is interactive (with short quizzes after each section to keep you on track), and it’s broken into short, quickly watched videos on specific questions you may have.
Alexandra Ursea

Excellent overview of iteration and release planning The course is a must for anyone working in an agile environment. An excellent description of an iteration and release planning. Key concepts such as velocity, story points and ideal days are very well explained. Good recommendations on how they should be used. I found the “Release Planning” topic examples on how to plan a release when the team has historical data versus when the team does not have historical data extremely informative Good pointers on how to approach planning a release on projects that have either a fixed delivery date, fixed scope or fixed cost.

Alexandra Ursea
Mike Cohn

About Mike Cohn

Learn scrum and agile processes directly from Mike Cohn, one of the industry's most well respected Certified Scrum Trainers (CST). Mike Cohn is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile. He is a co-founder and former board member of the Scrum Alliance, and a co-founder of the non-profit Agile Alliance, home of the Agile Manifesto. Mike is also the founder of FrontRowAgile.com, an online agile training website.

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Got a Question?

Need more details before you book? Email hello@mountaingoatsoftware.com, or call us on 1-888-61-AGILE (24453). We’ll respond within 24 hours and often much more quickly.