Making estimation easier and better

Over the years agileKRC has helped many organizations with their agile transformation. We closely analyse the problems these organisations face with their projects and the way they work.

One of the most common problems they face is estimating. Judging from the students on a typical agile project management course, most people find estimating a struggle.

So, with estimation we need to find a way.  It is hard but we need to deal with it. We need to attack it. At agileKRC we get organisations to address this by looking at five key areas.

  1. Look at what an estimate is actually made up of. What are its components? Surprisingly, there are only a few. Just think of the questions you ask yourself if you are working out how long a journey will take. How far is it? What transport shall I use? What problems might occur?
  2. Have confidence in your estimates. This is what we call the confidence factor because every estimate should have a degree of confidence.
  3. Blend relative estimations with actual results from previous estimations. Then bring them together using your instincts. There is nothing wrong with a ‘finger in the air’ estimate just so long as you back it up with a relative estimation and actual metrics.
  4. Use the right technique at the right time. We cover and use many different approaches with our customers. But one approach gets all the headlines in the agile community and that is the use of story points. There is a lot of hype behind story points and they are a bit like Marmite – people either love them or hate them. We show people where story points fit. They do have a lot of value but don’t believe all of the hype – they do end up being about time at the end of the day.  Also be careful using the Fibonacci sequence. The use of these numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 etc is very common but it has a fundamental flaw built into it because the lower numbers are not proportionately spaced equally.
  5. Get ‘nerdy’. It may not look good in your office to be really into estimation but trust me. When you start to get great results and you are seen as being able being able to predict the future, it will look good.


In this video, Keith Richards, the Founder of agileKRC and Lead Author and Chief Examiner for Agile Project Management (AgilePM) and DSDM Atern, and Lead Author of PRINCE2 Agile explains the basics of agile estimation, why it is so difficult, how to start relative estimating, and whether story points are useful when estimating.

The topics Keith covers include:

  • Why is agile estimation so difficult?
  • What are the basics of agile estimation?
  • How do you start to do relative estimation and why should you use it?
  • Getting the balance between predictive approaches and evidence-based approaches
  • Story points – a great idea or just a distraction?



To see a PDF version of the presentation used in this video, click the download button below.