Today’s post is the final installment in a free series of training videos tackling common problems teams face when estimating with story points. The training will be available until Wednesday, April 21 at 9 p.m. Pacific.
So far in this series of training videos we’ve looked at:
And in this final video I look at one of the biggest sources of estimating problems: people.
Video #3 Overcoming People Problems to Get Good Estimates
Estimating is a human task, and humans can be complicated. No matter how clearly you define and explain the process, estimates still get influenced by bias, background, and individual perspectives.
We’ve all been on teams where someone won’t budge on an estimate, or new recruits are uncertain about the process and make it painfully slow for others. And some people just flat-out refuse to estimate anything that isn’t in their skillset.
If that sounds like your team, don’t give up.
There are still plenty of practical coaching solutions you can use to manage and even eliminate some of these common problems.
Jan shared her experience of estimating by skillset:
Thank you for this. I've definitely encountered the 'discipline only' estimation. I think it's partly that often non-developers are intimidated by the idea of having an opinion about how long a software development might take. I guess it is down to the coach to build up their confidence and teach them that their team experience is as valuable as everyone else's, even though as you say the developer's estimate has more weight at the end of the day. More pertinent for me was the quest for the perfect estimate. Like the hypothetical VP in your example, often commercial staff want to know what to quote an external customer, and will base that quote on an estimate from the team. If the estimate is too small the job runs at a loss, if it's too big the customer feels cheated. I have in the past used the margin of error idea, and it makes a lot of sense, but if it is visible to the commercial people they will be tempted to shave it off to win business. Finally, thank you for reinforcing the point that we all need to be giving the same estimate. I will be using that curve you demonstrated in the future!
In this video I show you how to overcome some common people problems, including:
- How to handle people who feel they can’t estimate outside of their skillset
- Making sure everyone knows what stage of completion they’re estimating to
- How to create a good baseline for people to estimate against
- How to prevent new members from slowing down or frustrating the rest of the team
Last Chance to Watch
Remember, this free training will only be available until April 21. I’ve really enjoyed sharing this series and hearing how people are going to implement the coaching techniques:
Great series of videos, Mike! I really appreciate how you break down the recommendations for overcoming these misconceptions about estimating and story points into analogies. Also, the summaries at the end help drive home your main points. In the first video I learned about triangulating. My team usually does relative sizing but only considering the new stories we are refining and then estimating. I'm going to see if they'd like to instead compare the new stories to an "old" story they completed and felt good about, as far as accuracy of the estimate. I took a lot of notes from the third video as well. I'm now going to watch the second one.Thanks again for sharing these (FREE!) videos!
Hey Mike, this was a great video series. You addressed some of the common problems I faced with estimating using story points and you offered solutions. I'm getting ready to launch estimating again with my teams and I will have more confidence because I'm prepared for objections and problems that will arise. Thanks so much!!!
Don’t miss this chance to watch all three videos, and let me know what you think.