• Javier Perez Fernandez

#noestimates maybe is not a good idea


Thinking about having your teams stop estimating? Maybe it's not the best decision.


This week, a very good scrum master friend of mine contacted me because he had a problem with his teams' estimates and wanted to ask my opinion about their usefulness in agile environments. He was using planning poker as a tool for estimating. He explained to me that he was considering to stop doing it because:


  1. It did nothing to get the work done.

  2. It was reporting estimates that turned out to be wrong in the end.

  3. The team's frustration was increased by having to give explanations as to why the deviation from the estimate and increased pressure on the team to deliver on time.


I believe that in everything teams do, they should ask themselves these questions:

  • Why do they do what they want to do or be doing?

  • Who are those benefits for?


Normally with respect to estimates, scrum teams usually answer that they do them to be able to predict when the product will be finished or to have more information to create the sprint backlog and that the beneficiaries are both the product owner and the team itself.


However, in my opinion they forget something that for me completely changes the way to use techniques like planning poker:


  • It is an opportunity to get to know the system better. To share knowledge. They are learning sessions.


These teams, when there is a disparity of opinion in the estimates, the question they ask to each other is “what would you consider and what would you do to have the element in Done?” The conversations change completely, they are much more focused and there is more benefit for the team (and as a side effect, the product owners can have better predictions).


And of course, estimations are not the only technique to predict or share knowledge... It all depends on the context.


What do you think, have you encountered teams with similar problems, and how did you solve them?