Top 8 Agile Estimation Techniques: Predicting the Success Route

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Top 8 Agile Estimation Techniques: Predicting the Success Route

Estimations are hard to grasp. Even a minute error can adversely impact the success rate of a project. Explore the top 8 agile estimation techniques that can predict unforeseen impediments and allows you to plan out each iteration strategically.

By: Abdul Karim
date
05 September, 2022
time
5 min read

Table of Content

Estimation in agile methodology is the hardest endeavor in all of the information software development processes. There’s a financial perspective, projections for future quarters, and the need to allocate resources to each iteration.

The influential components of agile estimation techniques, i.e., cost, timing, return on investment, and benefits delivered, can make, shake and break your business. In contrast, understanding scope, duration, and cost lead to a practical and effective strategic decision-making stage.

Although writing software code can be bread and butter for senior developers, poor agile estimation techniques can direct the entire project into deep waters, compromising the quality of resources and effort.

So, how should you estimate size, cost, and duration effectively?

Agile and Traditional Methodologies – A Generational Gap

Agile estimation techniques differ from traditional estimation practices. Therefore, applying traditional techniques to agile project management results in inaccuracies. The underlying reasons for incompatibility are lack of expert opinion, flexibility, adaptability, and historical data.

The Sydney Opera House is a good real-world example of how quickly a project can be off-tracked due to poor cost estimation planning. It was anticipated to be completed within 4 years with a budget of AUD 7 million. However, the estimations proved futile because it took 14 years to complete the project and ended up costing AUD 102 million.

Hence, it was delayed by 10 years and had a shell-shocking budget difference of AUD 95 million.

Due to the interactive approach, agile software methodology is simpler and requires faster work with the active involvement of customers — making it best suited for the Sydney Opera House Project.

Additionally, agile estimation techniques introduce flexibility in each step, eventually changing the software estimation process. It eliminates the personality trait of rigidity and allows the team to adapt to the dynamics smoothly.

In simple words, the world makes identifying techniques compatible with agile projects carry weight these days.

Estimation Techniques – The Big Cheese Of Agile Projects

At InvoZone, we employ agile estimation techniques that boost stakeholders' confidence in project duration, project scope, and cost estimation. We work to continuously adapt and plan from initial levels to more modular details because these techniques assist in incorporating necessary changes when appropriate, avoiding project waste.

There are a few that we can adopt. Let’s get familiar with them!

Expert Judgment– Godfather’s Guidelines

As the name implies, expert judgment is subjective as geniuses make estimations based on skills, experience, and knowledge under their belts. For example, a nurse's expert judgment is typically subjective.

It is dependent on the nurse’s experience and skill, the availability of medical supplies, beds, or doctors, and the severity of the patient's sickness or injury. Similarly, during a software development project, the corporate recovery team coordinates with the finance, risk management, and business development teams to assess the requirements by considering qualitative and quantitative elements.

This expertise originates from project management methodology, a project team member, a project stakeholder, a consultant, or subject matter experts. Because they fill the gaps in data and bring concrete information to the table to make sound decisions, experts are considered the “indispensable” asset of modern organizations.

In addition, this process allows your agile team to form strategies around threats and risk responses. It can be a useful tool in the agile planning and estimating stage, but it is not a flawless technique. You have been warned!

Planning Poker – Playing a Deck Card Tournament

A fun and collaborative way of gamifying sprint planning – Planning Poker is one of the census-building agile scrum estimation techniques. In this exercise, software development teams assign effort, i.e., story points or ideal days, to items in the product backlog.

Being one of the most frivolous agile estimation techniques, Planning Poker adheres to the agile manifesto limned with the principle of collaboration and interactions in software development

So, when it is the sprint meeting day, invite the Scrum team members to play poker using physical or digital cards.

Three-point Method – Diving into the Project with Three Lifeguards 

The problem with drawing and committing to an estimation before the project planning is even started is that it is highly inaccurate and tainted. Project managers and teams often fall prey to the thought, “We have done this before”, and dive into the ocean of the development process with old estimates.

So, here comes the Three-point method with three lifeguards.

Being one of the estimation techniques in agile that shake up the ingredients of subjectivity and objectivity, it gives you the best of both worlds. It loops in the best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenarios.

Suppose you want to catch a flight and go to the airport by a typically congested route. In that case, your optimistic estimate maybe 20 minutes, your pessimistic estimate could be 60 minutes, and your realistic estimate could be 40 minutes.

Using the three-point estimate formula, the most accurate estimate is (20+ [4*40] +60)/[6], which equals 40 minutes. Because you factored in the three estimations in your computation, this estimate, among other agile estimation techniques is more plausible.

Ideal days – Chasing Away Locusts to Prevent Delays

Executives, stakeholders, and clients have one question at the tips of their tongues during the sprint planning phase:

“When will it be completed?”

This question is a trap. Software development is not an assembly where the time-lapse can be measured. You are creating an unprecedented product. Hence, the timeline is going to be dubious.

The best course of action to avoid promises that cannot be delivered is the Ideal Day technique. Beating other agile software estimation techniques in terms of unveiling the timeline, it estimates the number of days your project management team utilized to achieve the final milestone without interruption and additional on-demand tasks.

With this estimation technique's intuitive and concrete nature, a team of three developers might estimate a total of 45 ideal days to lead the project toward the finishing line. If they had no interruptions like system breakdowns or a swarm of bugs attacking the source code or additional tasks, the estimated timeline would be 15 days.

However, no project proceeds without interruptions.

Under such circumstances, the team will set duration of between 20 to 30 days, depending on how realistic and optimistic they are.

Affinity Mapping – Grouping Best Friends Together

Are you scrolling through Google result pages and bouncing off web pages in the search for an estimation that would assist your remote agile team effortlessly? Your quest ends here.

Standing at the top of the agile estimation techniques pile, we have Affinity Mapping. It helps your agile team to reach a consensus after a brainstorming session, usability testing, or user research survey. The process can be rewarding when you have a lot of data to sort and filter into a solution.

Most importantly, it rapidly and simply estimates many user stories to a narrative point, handling large project backlogs.

Explore InvoZone’s quick-witted process to prioritize your backlog:

The Bucket System Estimation – Divide and Conquer

Large estimations are complex to determine via Planning Poker. But fear not because the Bucket System is ideal for estimating many items (50-500). Capitalizing on this agile estimation tool, various relative size buckets are fabricated, placed sequentially, and assigned values ranging from 0,1,2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 20, 30, 50, 100, and 200 (and more, if required).

Next, the estimator places the user story from the project backlog into the suited bucket after discussing all its requirements with the team members. Follow the same drill throughout.

2.    T-shirt Size – Finding Your Size

Just ask your Scrum Master to swap Fibonnaic numbered cards with t-shirt sizes.

This method is effective for long-term planning and helps your team to attain relative estimations for smaller backlogs. Used mostly for the roadmap and release planning, it is nothing more than a guess at the effort based on the available information.

For huge backlogs, you should generally employ a mechanism akin to affinity mapping and bucket systems. Everyone works alone to assign sizes and then meets at the end to address any disagreements. This strategy enables even small teams to get through a substantial backlog fast.

Dot Voting – Cast Your Vote to Impair Uncertainty

Dot Voting is an estimation technique in agile software development that prioritizes tasks and works well for a small number of user stories.

In this process, all user stories are posted on the Scrum wallboard. Voting is conducted among stakeholders during Scrum meetings to identify priority requirements. Votes are represented by dots using stickers or markers. After voting, the project owner rearranges the product backlog items depending on the results.

Planning Poker or Bucket System Style?

Passionate about bringing teams together and building robust products? InvoZone utilizes an impressive range of easy, agile estimation techniques to fend off poor quality, budget overruns, or missed deadlines!

Offering 100% free project management services, we bring your vision to reality because agility is a mindset that we worship! So, get on board, give us due dates, provide feedback during sprint meetings, and know the progress of each task.

The good news is you are just a click away from leveraging the systematic strengths of these best agile estimation techniques and marveling at the full-cycle Q/Aproduct management system.

Estimation in agile methodology is the hardest endeavor in all of the information software development processes. There’s a financial perspective, projections for future quarters, and the need to allocate resources to each iteration.

The influential components of agile estimation techniques, i.e., cost, timing, return on investment, and benefits delivered, can make, shake and break your business. In contrast, understanding scope, duration, and cost lead to a practical and effective strategic decision-making stage.

Although writing software code can be bread and butter for senior developers, poor agile estimation techniques can direct the entire project into deep waters, compromising the quality of resources and effort.

So, how should you estimate size, cost, and duration effectively?

Agile and Traditional Methodologies – A Generational Gap

Agile estimation techniques differ from traditional estimation practices. Therefore, applying traditional techniques to agile project management results in inaccuracies. The underlying reasons for incompatibility are lack of expert opinion, flexibility, adaptability, and historical data.

The Sydney Opera House is a good real-world example of how quickly a project can be off-tracked due to poor cost estimation planning. It was anticipated to be completed within 4 years with a budget of AUD 7 million. However, the estimations proved futile because it took 14 years to complete the project and ended up costing AUD 102 million.

Hence, it was delayed by 10 years and had a shell-shocking budget difference of AUD 95 million.

Due to the interactive approach, agile software methodology is simpler and requires faster work with the active involvement of customers — making it best suited for the Sydney Opera House Project.

Additionally, agile estimation techniques introduce flexibility in each step, eventually changing the software estimation process. It eliminates the personality trait of rigidity and allows the team to adapt to the dynamics smoothly.

In simple words, the world makes identifying techniques compatible with agile projects carry weight these days.

Estimation Techniques – The Big Cheese Of Agile Projects

At InvoZone, we employ agile estimation techniques that boost stakeholders' confidence in project duration, project scope, and cost estimation. We work to continuously adapt and plan from initial levels to more modular details because these techniques assist in incorporating necessary changes when appropriate, avoiding project waste.

There are a few that we can adopt. Let’s get familiar with them!

Expert Judgment– Godfather’s Guidelines

As the name implies, expert judgment is subjective as geniuses make estimations based on skills, experience, and knowledge under their belts. For example, a nurse's expert judgment is typically subjective.

It is dependent on the nurse’s experience and skill, the availability of medical supplies, beds, or doctors, and the severity of the patient's sickness or injury. Similarly, during a software development project, the corporate recovery team coordinates with the finance, risk management, and business development teams to assess the requirements by considering qualitative and quantitative elements.

This expertise originates from project management methodology, a project team member, a project stakeholder, a consultant, or subject matter experts. Because they fill the gaps in data and bring concrete information to the table to make sound decisions, experts are considered the “indispensable” asset of modern organizations.

In addition, this process allows your agile team to form strategies around threats and risk responses. It can be a useful tool in the agile planning and estimating stage, but it is not a flawless technique. You have been warned!

Planning Poker – Playing a Deck Card Tournament

A fun and collaborative way of gamifying sprint planning – Planning Poker is one of the census-building agile scrum estimation techniques. In this exercise, software development teams assign effort, i.e., story points or ideal days, to items in the product backlog.

Being one of the most frivolous agile estimation techniques, Planning Poker adheres to the agile manifesto limned with the principle of collaboration and interactions in software development

So, when it is the sprint meeting day, invite the Scrum team members to play poker using physical or digital cards.

Three-point Method – Diving into the Project with Three Lifeguards 

The problem with drawing and committing to an estimation before the project planning is even started is that it is highly inaccurate and tainted. Project managers and teams often fall prey to the thought, “We have done this before”, and dive into the ocean of the development process with old estimates.

So, here comes the Three-point method with three lifeguards.

Being one of the estimation techniques in agile that shake up the ingredients of subjectivity and objectivity, it gives you the best of both worlds. It loops in the best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenarios.

Suppose you want to catch a flight and go to the airport by a typically congested route. In that case, your optimistic estimate maybe 20 minutes, your pessimistic estimate could be 60 minutes, and your realistic estimate could be 40 minutes.

Using the three-point estimate formula, the most accurate estimate is (20+ [4*40] +60)/[6], which equals 40 minutes. Because you factored in the three estimations in your computation, this estimate, among other agile estimation techniques is more plausible.

Ideal days – Chasing Away Locusts to Prevent Delays

Executives, stakeholders, and clients have one question at the tips of their tongues during the sprint planning phase:

“When will it be completed?”

This question is a trap. Software development is not an assembly where the time-lapse can be measured. You are creating an unprecedented product. Hence, the timeline is going to be dubious.

The best course of action to avoid promises that cannot be delivered is the Ideal Day technique. Beating other agile software estimation techniques in terms of unveiling the timeline, it estimates the number of days your project management team utilized to achieve the final milestone without interruption and additional on-demand tasks.

With this estimation technique's intuitive and concrete nature, a team of three developers might estimate a total of 45 ideal days to lead the project toward the finishing line. If they had no interruptions like system breakdowns or a swarm of bugs attacking the source code or additional tasks, the estimated timeline would be 15 days.

However, no project proceeds without interruptions.

Under such circumstances, the team will set duration of between 20 to 30 days, depending on how realistic and optimistic they are.

Affinity Mapping – Grouping Best Friends Together

Are you scrolling through Google result pages and bouncing off web pages in the search for an estimation that would assist your remote agile team effortlessly? Your quest ends here.

Standing at the top of the agile estimation techniques pile, we have Affinity Mapping. It helps your agile team to reach a consensus after a brainstorming session, usability testing, or user research survey. The process can be rewarding when you have a lot of data to sort and filter into a solution.

Most importantly, it rapidly and simply estimates many user stories to a narrative point, handling large project backlogs.

Explore InvoZone’s quick-witted process to prioritize your backlog:

The Bucket System Estimation – Divide and Conquer

Large estimations are complex to determine via Planning Poker. But fear not because the Bucket System is ideal for estimating many items (50-500). Capitalizing on this agile estimation tool, various relative size buckets are fabricated, placed sequentially, and assigned values ranging from 0,1,2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 20, 30, 50, 100, and 200 (and more, if required).

Next, the estimator places the user story from the project backlog into the suited bucket after discussing all its requirements with the team members. Follow the same drill throughout.

2.    T-shirt Size – Finding Your Size

Just ask your Scrum Master to swap Fibonnaic numbered cards with t-shirt sizes.

This method is effective for long-term planning and helps your team to attain relative estimations for smaller backlogs. Used mostly for the roadmap and release planning, it is nothing more than a guess at the effort based on the available information.

For huge backlogs, you should generally employ a mechanism akin to affinity mapping and bucket systems. Everyone works alone to assign sizes and then meets at the end to address any disagreements. This strategy enables even small teams to get through a substantial backlog fast.

Dot Voting – Cast Your Vote to Impair Uncertainty

Dot Voting is an estimation technique in agile software development that prioritizes tasks and works well for a small number of user stories.

In this process, all user stories are posted on the Scrum wallboard. Voting is conducted among stakeholders during Scrum meetings to identify priority requirements. Votes are represented by dots using stickers or markers. After voting, the project owner rearranges the product backlog items depending on the results.

Planning Poker or Bucket System Style?

Passionate about bringing teams together and building robust products? InvoZone utilizes an impressive range of easy, agile estimation techniques to fend off poor quality, budget overruns, or missed deadlines!

Offering 100% free project management services, we bring your vision to reality because agility is a mindset that we worship! So, get on board, give us due dates, provide feedback during sprint meetings, and know the progress of each task.

The good news is you are just a click away from leveraging the systematic strengths of these best agile estimation techniques and marveling at the full-cycle Q/Aproduct management system.

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