As a development team, point estimation is pivotal. You need accuracy and consistency when talking point estimation. The most successful development teams have a good handle on their velocity and how many User Story points they can deliver in a Sprint. When you are not consistent, you run into issues with measuring velocity over a period of time.
Consistency is Key
Consistency is key when it comes to estimating User Stories with points. Generally, you start each Sprint by going through the process of bringing User Stories into the next cycle of work. The amount of work you take on is derived from velocity. If the team is working quickly you should be able to complete more User Story points. If your team runs into some problems and the velocity dips, so does your ability to take on more work.
Inflation of User Story Estimation
Avoid inflating your User Story point estimations. You may notice that velocity doubles over a few Sprints. Does that mean that the team is being more efficient? Is value still being delivered to the customer? It could mean that you are simply assigning more User Story points to User Stories.
The whole team needs to understand the logic behind the assignment of User Story points. There has to be a sense of consistent assignment of the points. If the points are inflated then that can also affect velocity. If velocity is declining you may be assigning too few User Story points compared to what you did in the past. If the velocity is up, that may seem like a good thing but it could actually be a sign of inaccurate estimations.
How to Assign Points Consistently
The best way to assign points consistently is to compare User Stories. If you decide to assign a User Story a point value of five, how does that compare to similar stories in the past? Were the stories with five points a few Sprints ago requiring the same level of effort as this new story? If so, you are probably on point and consistent in the assignment. If the User Story point seems too high or too low, you may want to adjust it.
Rely on a team voting approach too. Make sure that everyone is on-board with how many points a User Story is assigned. There are plenty of ways to do this, such as a fist of five voting technique, or even with tools like Planning Poker. This way, you can have the team members vote in isolation, without facing any bias from other team members to sway their decision.
Estimation of User Story points requires consistency. When you are consistent, the metrics of the development team will be more reliable. You will be able to look at the velocity of a team and see increases or decreases and rely on them, knowing User Story point estimation is spot-on. With so much reliance on these metrics, it is pivotal to get User Story point estimation right initially, at the Sprint Planning stage.
Here at ClearlyAgile we offer a number of classes and workshops that can help get your project off the ground using Agile. Sign up for a class today or contact us to learn how we can get your team estimating points consistently!