This is a short introduction to one of many techniques how to establish estimates (in my teams we make estimation of size, not the duration of the task) - White elephant.
This technique is taken from White elephant gift exchange party game. You can use “White elephant” within your team when you need to estimate upcoming work.
Recently I had an initial estimation session with one team (they are in the beginning of Agile adoption). This was a team of 7 members and they had 39 items (of current and upcoming work) to estimate. We started with answering these two questions:
- What is the purpose of estimation?
- What do we want to estimate: size, duration, complexity, velocity, etc. For us it is size we estimate.
Then we decided what measures did we want to use: T-shirt sizing (XS, S, M, L, XL).
We used simple rules:
- Talks one at a time
- Everyone in round-robin manner:
- Takes a card from pile (or already placed)
- Reads the task loudly
- Put into one column (XS, S, M, L, XL) if hard to decide – put into M
- Explain why?
- If task was moved 3 times – it cannot be moved again, meaning that we need to discuss more about it afterwards.
- Repeat while everyone agrees
We’ve managed to finish estimating in less than half an hour.
During this session we achieved:
- Common understanding about all the tasks we have in scope
- Common feeling how to estimate relatively
- Visualization of how much loaded with work are our team members
- Information for further future when we will be figuring out what is our velocity
- The list of unclear/need to discuss tasks
Things to keep in mind while estimating:
- Compare stories to get estimates
- Use more than one example
- Group similar sized user stories