Three great ways to estimate story points for scrum teams | Unlock Your Team's Genius

Three great ways to estimate story points for scrum teams

By Georg Fasching | Agile Practice

Feb 28
Story Point Estimation - 3 Tips

Improve your story points estimation for a more calculated approach to teamwork

“When the whole team emerges with the same number then story points have fulfilled their purpose.” Click To Tweet

Tip 1: Know the point

The point of story pointing is not to create a story point. The point is the conversation and how that can translate into value for the user. To do that the team need to discuss what’s likely to happen as they progress through the agile sprint, as they share their assumptions and ultimately reduce uncertainty of the work. While it’s fine to talk about uncertainty in abstract terms, a numerical value is important to make it measurable.

After much practice, all team members will repeatedly come out with the same number of story points per item and you’ll know the story points have fulfilled their purpose. Ask the team questions like these: “what are we still getting out of the points?”, “How would it work for us to keep the conversation and move to a quick check on size instead of points?” “… Now that we understand what we’re looking to do, is it as small as we want to have it?”

Tip 2: Keep it in the team

Though it might be tempting, do not compare points across teams. Teams are unique by their design and any similarities are completely incidental. Every team and every sprint item is different. Additionally, keeping it in the team means keeping it in the whole team, meaning it’s not just the devs or creatives that conduct story point estimation but everybody who’s part of the execution and delivery.

Tip 3: Calibrate after the fact

A huge side effect of story point planning is that the team accelerates the way that they’re calibrating their view on complexity in their initiative. Meaning that the team’s collective product knowledge comes together faster by using story pointing, and more so if they calibrate their estimates. So you’ll want to calibrate after the fact in case something turns out to be significantly more or less effort than previously thought–at which point you can investigate why and adapt based on the outcome. Ask yourself, “what can we learn from this to improve estimation for next time?” 

I hope the video and tips above help you to improve your team’s story point estimation and create more productive dialogue around the sprint items. Refer back to this page whenever you need a refresher. If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, leave a comment below or send me a message through my website. Thanks for reading. See you next time!


About the Author

A leadership team development specialist, International Coach Federation - Professional Certified Coach, with global product management experience since 2000, employing Agile & Lean since 2010, Georg Fasching helps digital creative agencies’ leadership teams delight their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.