Agile estimation is the project management mechanism used to derive an idea about the costs and effort involved in executing a project. It helps in deciding whether the work can be undertaken as proposed, needs to be modified or should be cancelled.
Agile Estimation in Detail
Agile estimation helps for proper planning, management and estimation of the total efforts that will be used for implementing, testing and delivering the desired product to the customers in terms of time within the specified deadlines.
A well-prepared preliminary estimate is essential. The more accurately the client answers all the questions, the closer to reality the initial assessment will be. Client involvement and full cooperation is especially important at this point.
It is employed in projects through various techniques such as Planning Poker, Bucket System, and Affinity Mapping. A number of estimation templates at different levels also serve this purpose: Agile Project Plan Template, Release Plan Template, Sprint Plan Template, RoadMap Template, and User Story Template.
Levels of Agile Estimation
There are three main levels of Agile estimation.
Project or Proposal level is the one which uses Quick Function Point Analysis during the initial phases of the project development. Function Point Analysis is a standardized method used commonly as an estimation technique in software development. It’s a measure that helps to assess business requirements that the software is meant to involve.
Release Level includes assigning story points to the user stories that can help in defining the order of the user stories by priority. It can also help to decide which stories we should take first and which later.
User stories are steps that a user takes while using an app or software. For example: 1) launching an app, 2) registering, 3) navigating through the application menu tabs, 4) uploading a document / adding an item to cart, etc. These stories vary depending on the goals the application has to accomplish.
Sprint Level is the one in which we divide user stories into tasks and assign estimated hours to the tasks, based on their complexity. At this level, we also define the person who is responsible for the task along with the status of the tasks.
These levels are important in the budget and timeline calculation of the Agile Project. It is crucial to make sure that the project does not go beyond the expected budget due to the pre- and post-iteration tasks or any other reasons.
Agile Estimation — know-how
At Bunch Consulting, we always want to be honest with our clients and work up to their expectations. We make sure that they understand all factors that impact their project at the estimate level. This way, they have confident expectations from the team’s deliverables and the whole project moving forward.
At every single stage, estimates are provided with some range of numbers. After the preliminary stage, we go to a more detailed sprint estimate. At this point we evaluate the scope of work in 2-weeks iterations (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer).
At the end of the day, the numbers (budget and timeline) often mismatch with the preliminary ones by around 20%. Our project managers clearly communicate it to our clients, so that they are always aware.
While starting a project, it is not possible to take into account absolutely everything within the first assessment. Although we have extensive experience in the implementation of specific projects, the needs of our clients vary. During the project implementation, clients always submit additional features and requests, usually because of external business-specific circumstances. It’s the essence of Agile methodology – your product is flexible in terms of functionalities at any stage of its lifecycle.
Also, risks have an impact on the budget and timeline mismatching. It’s especially important to highlight the risks at every stage of the development. Of course, highlighting is not enough. Mitigation plan has to be ready and further implemented. That’s what project managers do and that’s why they’re making both clients’ and developers’ lives easier.
Popular methods of Agile Estimation: Planning Poker and Affinity Estimation
In Planning Poker, each team member will declare his or her estimate for a story. If everyone estimates the same or similar number, then move to the next story. But if each team member has different estimates, a discussion is done to clarify the scope, before more silent estimation occurs. The team members for estimating user stories include Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developers, Testers and Stakeholders.
Affinity Estimation is particularly effective when there are a significant number of stories to estimate. Here, the team will group many stories into buckets all at once, rather than focusing on one story at a time. This is ideal for large-scale projects.
Leave it to our Bunch
Let’s be frank – project estimation is difficult. Doing it the wrong way can kill even the best business ideas. So why not leave it to the pros?
Estimates are our investment in your project, as you don’t have to spend your time and money to get an evaluation of the future project. Our Project Managers will make sure the estimate is made according to the modern industry standards. We like to say that project managers are the “translators” between business owners and developers. We understand both worlds and speak their languages.
You probably have a lot of questions at this point — and we’re happy to help you answer them! Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting. We will make sure you will get all the data to choose the right path for your project.