Estimation: Back to Hours – Menlo #4

[This post is part of a series about Menlo Innovations, the company described in “Joy, Inc.“]

Cover of Joy, Inc. At sipgate most teams estimate in Story Points. It was what you did back in the day when we started with Scrum and we’re used to it now. It works well enough for us.

I’m not a great fan of Story Points and the endless sense-making discussions I associate with them so I tried shirt sizes at another company. They seemed to work with fewer debates than points.

Lately, I’ve liked the idea of Ideal Days, as popularized by Rachel Davies. Ideal Days are essentially time based, which we were once taught is a “big no-no” in Agile estimation.

Curiously enough, estimating in time – hours – is exactly what Menlo does. The company formed in 2001, before the Story Points detour.

According to Rich Sheridan Story Points are an abstraction that is an obstruction. They’re desinformation. And their client contacts cannot go to their bosses with points or gummi bears. “Well, how long does it take?” No clue!

I agree. If I had to do it all again. I would give time based estimation a shot. I do see some merit in points (abstracting from the concrete person that will implement it onto the task itself) but not enough to remedy the endless discussions use of points induced for us.

Oh, and if you wanna go #noEstimates on me: Of course, I would estimate! You can build features in varying incarnations. Sometimes it’s not a specific feature you need, but a balanced mix of nice to haves. In these situations, there is wiggle room and as a PO I need at least a coarse guess of how much each solution is gonna cost so that I can take a good decision.