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How to explain to the team that they need to come up with an estimation

Last post 02:29 am February 26, 2014
by Ian Mitchell
3 replies
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05:33 pm February 25, 2014

Hi all,

I'm wondering how a Scrum master can assist/coach teams in coming up with an estimation when a story still generates functional discussions during the first part of the Sprint planning meeting.

1) Due to time constraint (you want to be able to estimate x stories for the upcoming sprint), does the Scrum master (at some moment in time) stops the discussion and ask the team to come up with a guestimation? If yes, how would the Scrum master explain that towards the team because they are still in the mindset of "how can we give a estimation if we don't know all the specs".

2) Is the team allowed to refuse a story, but has the highest business value for the customer?

Cheers, P

10:23 pm February 25, 2014

Make use of backlog refinement sessions. The Development Team and the Product Owner should attend although the Scrum Master may facilitate.

It's reasonable to spend up to 20% of each Sprint grooming user stories so they are in a fit state for Sprint Planning, and this can also include their estimation. Product Backlog refinement should allow Sprint Planning to occur smoothly within its time-box and without impediment.

A Development Team can refuse to accept any item into their Sprint Backlog. However, if they have had sight of the Product Backlog during refinement sessions, surprises for the Product Owner can be avoided.

01:44 am February 26, 2014

HI Ian, thanks for the quick reply!

Posted By Ian Mitchell on 25 Feb 2014 10:23 PM
Make use of backlog refinement sessions. The Development Team and the Product Owner should attend although the Scrum Master may facilitate.

I've read that the goal of a refinement session is to get more understanding of the stories. When stories are clear during the refinement session, estimations can be given during this session.
Even if we have a refinment session, I think we can agree that the stories can never be 100% clear so at some point the team needs to start estimating

I think I'm more looking for a way to tell the team that we need to start estimating the stories while it's still a bit unclear.
What do you usually say to a team?

02:29 am February 26, 2014

> I think I'm more looking for a way to tell the
> team that we need to start estimating the
> stories while it's still a bit unclear. 
> What do you usually say to a team? 

I'll ask them to do a team sort, which they usually find easier. I've described the technique in this thread:

https://www.scrum.org/Forums/aft/500