Estimating Vs Forecasting : Demystifying in Agile Projects (Part 1)

  • Estimation is an INFORMATION
  • Estimates are used for FORECASTING
  • Usually teams use ‘story point’ estimates for the features
  • Most teams uses Fibonacci series for Story Points ie a relative measure
  • Its a relative estimate and simple , fast and consistent
  • Collaboration, assumption and Knowledge is key for small estimates
  • Teams becomes experienced after estimating for a time.
  • Its a short feedback loop
  • “How long” is an example of estimate
  • Forecast is a EXPECTATION
  • Multiple estimates can be used for FORECASTING
  • Its a commitment, ie commitment to delivery to a fixed scope, fixed cost or fixed date
  • Forecast= Story Point+Velocity
  • Used for Time, Budget and a degree of Confidence
  • Used for Short Term or Long Term work
  • In some instances, Estimates and Forecast could be same
  • “When its Done” is an example of Forecast
  • Note that most of the teams don’t estimate Tasks. Rather its User Stories that are estimated but forecast is a projection for the feature/release completing and not task.
  • With high level estimates , one can estimate the release timelines
  • low level estimates are required during the sprint planning session for items that can be delivered in 2 weeks ( 1 Sprint ) timeframe.
  • You don’t estimate for ‘Technical or Functional Spikes”. They are estimated outside of Planning session But how do you budget for these is a different question.
  • If the estimated user stories goes past a sprint, the relative task are moved but not the whole story ie logging can be done in next sprint but the feature can be in Prod in current Sprint
  • Use ‘feature flags’ if Story Points estimate is 13 or high. Not all teams does this though
  • How do you estimate for the first time. The teams should start somewhere and could just produce a rough estimate. As said teams become more experience with time

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