Observations on the #noestimates debate

There's a lot of talk in the agile community about #noestimates at the moment. There are the fervent pro-estimators, and the rabid anti-estimators battling it out for the hearts and minds of the agile community. I posted a comment on this blog post by Woody Zuill, but thought, because I rarely post here, that I would reproduce it here for y'all

No estimates seems to me to be a great end goal for teams. Personally, I think estimation sessions serve a purpose far greater than just providing a number on a card for Proj Mgt purposes.
In young teams (Team form age, not team personnel) Estimation is a valuable activity in aligning understanding of the work. Estimation is as much about “This story is too big to work on” to, “Why do you think this is a five and I think it is a one?”.

Once teams have been together for a longer period of time, estimation starts to lose its value, sure. However, like most agile practice, it has it’s place and is a really valuable tool in my opinion. Much like the debate around ‘pairing’ as alluded to earlier, estimation should always be up for debate in retro’s etc. Once it’s time has passed, a team should feel comfortable stopping the practice.

I think the biggest danger of estimation is not from within the team, but rather, from outside. If estimation/commitment is used as some form of bat to beat the team with if they don’t deliver. Estimation is a team tool, a great way for a team to practice continuous improvement, and should be recognised as such.


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