5 min on Scrum | Sizing instead of Estimation

Recently I decided not to use the word “estimation” in my coaching and trainings any more. Estimations are loaded with fear and asking people to do estimations creates stress.

Although everybody knows that an estimate is not a prediction and that every estimate should be within a range, the result of estimates is that people will ask you to “stick to your estimates.”

Most people I talk to have huge problems in understanding that sizing is something which is logically differently to estimating. Estimations in our business are done about work effort. How much “time” will I need to perform a certain work. To build this functionality I will need x days. You can do this, but the point is, if you do this you will always have to attach the work to a certain person.

Sizing is not about the work a person does. It is about the size of a functionality. The very good thing is that a team has to decide about the dimensions the functionality will have. This is nothing you can predefine, because every system is different and needs different dimensions. So sizing is NOT about work.

The funny thing, I observed recently, when you try to explain sizing to people is that they do not want to learn this. Instead of saying, oh – this is a cool idea, they immediately try to switch from Size back to Work. It is like saying the Taipei 101 Tower in Taipei, is x millions work hours big.



2 responses to “5 min on Scrum | Sizing instead of Estimation

  1. Too true… estimate size, and then derive duration – because in the end that’s what they’ll ask you for.

    But estimates come later, and the transformation is a function that depends on the technology adopted, on the composition of the team, on the complexity of the project, and so on and so forth. So it is better done after a couple of iterations, not necessarily 30 days scrum iterations but maybe shorter spikes. And the good thing is that even if duration changes, size stands still, as it is relative and not absolute. I wrote some tips for those who are still forced to estimate here:

  2. Alexandre Magno

    It´s true Boris, and in a more dark enviroment we have a lot of people asking: “Could I use function points with Scrum to estimate stories?” or “Could I use UCP to do this?”…It’s a vicious! They need therapy! And this resolution (cut “estimate” word), maybe is a first step to the cure.

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