Agile That Works

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Points of Confusion in Agile

I was asked to write about “Points of Confusion in Agile” for SitePoint. Here’s an excerpt:

One of the most confusing things about agile may be the fact that we call the estimated units of complexity and effort that will go into completing a story, points. We also use the term velocity to help estimate the number of story points a team believes it can handle in a given sprint. As soon as you introduce terms like these, engineers and managers alike instinctively start to think of them as a way of measuring the value of what is being done.

In fact, points and velocity have absolutely nothing to do with measuring the business value of the work done by the team. They also have no use as a tool for evaluating how hard the team is working, or how much objective work they are getting done. The true value of points is that they represent an abstract and relative metric for estimating what it will take to get one story done compared to another. Ultimately they are intended to help the engineers on the team get better at predicting what will be involved in addressing new stories. But trying to convince managers and engineers of this can be confusing when they see shiny points and graphs that look like they should be going up and to the right.

Read the rest of my article about Points of Confusion in Agile on SitePoint.