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To re-estimate or not
Last Post 26 Mar 2014 10:58 AM by Ian Mitchell. 6 Replies.
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Pablo Rossi
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Pablo Rossi

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26 Mar 2014 05:33 AM
    Hi,

    I know there are many discussions regarding re-estimating stories that are unfinished. Note that I’m not talking about untouched stories, but stories that are like 90% “finished”.

    Clearly the story goes back to the backlog, but does the team re-estimate it or doesn’t tough the estimation?

    I’ve been following another similar thread, but that thread is rather old so I’m curious in what you guys think of it today.
    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    26 Mar 2014 06:31 AM
    The Development Team should re-estimate the story to indicate how much work is likely to remain. If this means that the story is estimated to be of a smaller size, we can expect that the total size of the Product Backlog (i.e. work left to do) will be reduced accordingly.
    Chee-Hong Hsia
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    Chee-Hong Hsia

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    26 Mar 2014 07:32 AM
    Hi Ian,

    Should the team be awarded for their effort? I believe that the team should only earn the points if they deliver value, so I wouldn’t re-estimate it UNLESS that specific story can be split up afterwards in order to add value to the project.
    From my experience, most of the time the team tells me that it isn’t possible to split the items up, so the reality will be that they’ve earned 0 points for this story.
    But no panic, usually they will easily earn this point in the next sprint where the average point will be taken.

    Personally re-estimation feels a bit odd for me because then you are assuming that what has been done is actually approved and we all know that strange things can happen even when you are 90% done and the last part is for example testing.
    Of course during the sprint planning meeting, we do take into account that some stories aren’t the same size anymore as they were initially estimated so we attend to take more into the sprint.


    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    26 Mar 2014 09:51 AM
    > Should the team be awarded for their effort? I believe that the
    > team should only earn the points if they deliver value

    In Scrum nobody "earns" points as the points themselves have no value. The only purpose they have is to help teams gauge how much work they can take on, and to inform a Product Owner of how much work is likely to remain.

    This means that when work is done on a story in a Sprint, but the story is not completed and cannot be delivered, no points will count to the velocity of that Sprint. What will happen is that when the undone work is re-estimated, the total size of the Product Backlog will most likely be reduced. By definition this means that less work remains than before, and so the Product Owner can be satisfied that progress has been made.

    > re-estimation feels a bit odd for me because then you are assuming
    > that what has been done is actually approved

    No, there is no such assumption at all. Re-estimation of partially done work just reduces the size of the Product Backlog (assuming nothing else has been added in the meanwhile). The re-estimation of work remaining is a measure in its own right. It has *nothing* to do with whether or not any work has been accepted.
    Chee-Hong Hsia
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    Chee-Hong Hsia

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    26 Mar 2014 10:42 AM

    Posted By Ian Mitchell on 26 Mar 2014 10:51 AM
    > Should the team be awarded for their effort? I believe that the
    > team should only earn the points if they deliver value

    In Scrum nobody "earns" points as the points themselves have no value. The only purpose they have is to help teams gauge how much work they can take on, and to inform a Product Owner of how much work is likely to remain.

    I agree that points itself has no value, but when items are added in the sprint backlog and therefore owned by the team, these points naturally becomes the teams objectives. That’s the game the teams “plays”.


    This means that when work is done on a story in a Sprint, but the story is not completed and cannot be delivered, no points will count to the velocity of that Sprint. What will happen is that when the undone work is re-estimated, the total size of the Product Backlog will most likely be reduced. By definition this means that less work remains than before, and so the Product Owner can be satisfied that progress has been made.

    Taking an incomplete story and re-estimate the story gives the story a false sense of security and make it look like you have a stable velocity reduces transparency and hides the truth of what you can actually achieve from your product owner, your stakeholders and most importantly yourselves.

    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    26 Mar 2014 10:48 AM
    > By definition this means that less work remains than before, and so the Product Owner
    > can be satisfied that progress has been made.

    Apologies, I should be more clear. The Product Owner can be satisfied that less work is thought to remain...and that's as far as any satisfaction will go.

    In Scrum the *only* measure of progress is the incremental delivery of working software.
    Ian Mitchell
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    Ian Mitchell

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    26 Mar 2014 10:58 AM
    > when items are added in the sprint backlog and therefore owned by the team,
    > these points naturally becomes the teams objectives. That’s the game the teams “plays”

    I've seen that game played as well, but it isn't Scrum. The delivery of points should *never* be a team's objective. The delivery of increments of working software is the only thing worth aiming for, and each Sprint Goal should express the anticipated value.

    > Taking an incomplete story and re-estimate the story gives the story a false sense of
    > security and make it look like you have a stable velocity reduces transparency ...

    No, because no points should be recorded against a Sprint for undelivered work. There is no partial credit. The expected velocity is likely to dip as a result and this, along with a reduced burn rate, can be visible to all.
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