Who is responsible to register work estimates during the sprint?

Last post 07:30 am October 24, 2014
by Anke Maerz
13 replies
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08:27 am September 25, 2014

Hi folks,
there is a question in the open assessment:
Who is responsible to register work estimates during the sprint?
Correct answer is Development Team.
Product Owner is false.
I see a contradiction here.
Yes, the Dev Team is responsible for all estimates.
BUT the question is not about giving estimates, but about registering them (writing them on the story card).
Scrum Guide:
"Product Backlog refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates(!), and order to items in the Product Backlog. This is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items. [...] However, Product Backlog items can be updated at any time by the Product Owner or at the Product Owner’s discretion."
This means, either both answers are correct (collaborate) or Product Owner is correct (can be updated at any time means he can change the estimates at any time). As of the Scrum Guide, there is no way only Dev Team should be correct.
I suggest to change the Scrum Guide (exclude estimates from the things PO can update) and keep the question as it is.
Best, Ludwig

10:38 am September 25, 2014

Hi Ludwig,

I agree with you about the contradiction.

But I wouldn't change the Scrum Guide because the Product Owner owns the Product Backlog. I think, it is really important that he remains the one and only person responsible for it because he has to report it to managers and stakeholders. If he isn't responsible for registering the estimates, he loses control of the estimates and difficulties in reporting can arise and the managers or stakeholders have to contact the Development Team directly in questions of estimates.
The Scrum Guide allows the Product Owner to pass Product Backlog management tasks, but he remains responsible. To me that seems sensible.

I'd prefer to change the question: "Who is responsible to develop work estimates during the sprint?" or something like that.

Best regards,
AnotherDotCom.

10:42 am September 25, 2014

Though, thinking about it further: Perhaps it is not a contradiction. The question is not necessarily about registering estimates to the Product Backlog. If you add a "to the Sprint Backlog", the contradiction disappears. Of course, the estimates of the Product Backlog Items transfer to the Sprint Backlog Items. But as the Sprint Backlog Items can be more detailed or split, there could arise some need to estimate them, too. Then, clearly the Development Team is responsible for registering them.

What do you think?

11:14 am September 29, 2014

Hi Anke,
I think it does not make a big difference if you say Product Backlog or Sprint Backlog, because the items in the Sprint Backlog are still Product Backlog Items, which has led to an interpretation that they do not really leave the Product Backlog until they are done.
I do not share this interpretation, because it leads to many other contradictions, but I'm also having a hard time rejecting it... So many years of Scrum and still it is not fully understood :)

03:00 pm September 29, 2014

Hello,

I just read the scrum guide and it is clearly mentioned that the development team is responsible for all estimates. It is also mentioned that

the product owner may influence the Development team by helping it understand and select trade offs, but the people who will perform the work make the final estimate.

.

So for me there is no ambiguity.

Regards
Manju

04:16 pm September 29, 2014

I agree with Manju -

In page 13 of Scrum guide it mentioned as below :

The Development Team is responsible for all estimates. The Product Owner may influence the
Development Team by helping it understand and select trade-offs, but the people who will
perform the work make the final estimate.

12:12 pm September 30, 2014

If you read my initial post carefully, you will notice this part:
Yes, the Dev Team is responsible for all estimates.
BUT the question is not about giving estimates, but about registering them (writing them on the story card).
Scrum Guide:
"Product Backlog refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates(!), and order to items in the Product Backlog. This is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items.

03:16 am October 1, 2014

Hi Ludwig,

Sorry, I missed some part of your question. I practise the PO shall focus on feature releases and prioritising the requirements, whereas Dev Eng shall focus on break down and adding stories/tasks in the release backlog. I think PO will not have in-depth information about the tasks/stories whereas Dev team will be the better position to contribute in coming up with stories/tasks in order to get the task done.

regards
Manju

04:08 am October 3, 2014

As the context of the question is from the Open Assessment, don't you push the question too far ?
In the real life, the Dev Teamd around me update their sprint burndown chart every day, without the PO.

In the question "Who is responsible to register work estimates during the sprint? ", I think the question is related to the tasks used by the Dev Team to decompose the PBI.
Of course in Scrum everything is made "during the sprint" but I think the question is focused on the work done by the Dev Team on the current sprint backlog item, not the refinement of the Product Backlog.

I my point of view, the learning point of this question is to focus on the idea that the Dev Team is self-organized, and that the Dev Team must not (typically) wait for the Scrum-Master to update their estimates and their sprint burndownchart.

05:09 am October 3, 2014

> Yes, the Dev Team is responsible for all estimates. 
> BUT the question is not about giving estimates, but
> about registering them (writing them on the story card). 

The PO must ensure that each item on the Product Backlog is well formed with a description, order, value, and estimate. Therefore the transcription of an estimated value could be seen as the PO's responsibility, even if he or she delegates it elsewhere.

As a Scrum Master I generally do the transcription in order to help facilitate Product Backlog refinement.

11:40 pm October 3, 2014

the Dev Team is responsible for all estimates as they are are the one who actually work on creating the increment

11:17 am October 8, 2014

Hi Ludwig,

sorry for the late reply...

You've made me curious: which contradictions do you see in "my" interpretation?

And, though I think that Olivier has a point about "pushing the question too far": in Sprint Backlog or in order to put Product Backlog Items to the Sprint Backlog, you certainly agree that you have to decompose Product Backlog Items. And for this decomposition a need for estimating could arise - although the PBIs also remain on the PB. Or is this just too theoretical and doesn't occur in practice?

12:49 pm October 21, 2014

Hi Anke,
this occurs in practice. However the result of decomposing PBIs is again PBIs.
The contradiction emerges when you have PBIs which are part of the Product Backlog and of the Sprint Backlog, because there are clear rules who can update the Product Backlog (Product Owner) and the Sprint Backlog (Dev Team).

07:30 am October 24, 2014

Hi Ludwig.

I hope I'm not annoying you. I'm not really sure of my interpretation and so - scientific method, falsificationism :) - I try to prove my own hypothesis wrong in order to gain further knowledge and new hypotheses. So:

Why is it so important to you to emphasize that the Sprint Backlog Items are still Product Backlog Items? I'd rather see it like that:

There is (for the sake of convenience) 1 Product Backlog Item on the Product Backlog. This Item has an estimate of 10 and the Development Team agrees (at the end of Sprint Planning Meeting Part I) to begin and finish the Product Backlog Item in the upcoming Sprint. For Part II of the Sprint Planning, the Development Team sends every one else out of the room and further decomposes the chosen Product Backlog Item.
Now, in my interpretation, everything the Development Team does to the PBI in this 2nd part of the Sprint Planning Meeting, happens only in the Sprint Backlog. There is no need for further grooming the Product Backlog and no need to bother the Product Owner at all (if there are no open questions etc.).

What's the problem with that? I can't see any.

Best regards and a nice weekend,
Anke.