A helpful technique to start estimating

Blog Post created by tbagnall on Mar 20, 2015

by Tristan Bagnall

Not sure how to start sizing stories?

A clever agilist once showed me a really useful technique to help teams start with story points and break the initial barrier on estimating. Here it is with my twist:

Pick a story that you think is small, perhaps even the smallest on the wall -

• well understood,
• not many assumptions,
• understood by all the team,
• little effort to get done

1. Find all the similar size stories and label them all as small
2. Look for the next significant size up and label them medium
3. Look for the largest stories and label them large
4. Now go back to the small stories
5. Mark all the small stores on a scale of small, medium and large, Try to think of the medium as about twice as large as the small and the large as about three times as large as the small.
6. Move on to the medium sized stories and mark them all as small, medium and large
7. Move to the large stories and mark them as small, medium and large. Try to think of the medium being half (or less) the size of the large.

You should now have user stories labelled and  marked:

• Small - Small
• Small - Medium
• Small - Large
• Medium - Small
• Medium - Medium
• Medium - Large
• Large - Small
• Large - Medium
• Large - Large

We can use these to translate to story points:

SmallMediumLarge
Small123
Medium5813
Large20 or 21*40100

* Depending on your tool you may find support for 20 or 21