Stop using story points?

January 26th 2012

I just read an interesting article about replacing story points with number of stories implemented in a sprint. Check the whole article by Vasco Duarte: "Story Points Considered Harmful - Or why the future of estimation is really in our past... ". After reading Vasco's article I returned to my old project that I had some data still available. Was the number of stories completed in a sprint normally distributed? Well, yes.

user-stories-completed-in-sprint

Data has 22 sprints which were gathered during one year. Vasco has some really good points, be sure to check his blog out. About the estimation effort he says:

Claim 3: The use of Story points doesn’t take a lot of time: Having worked with Story Points for several years this is not my experience. Although some progress has been done by people like Ken Power (at Cisco) with the Silent Grouping technique, the fact that we need such technique should dispute any idea that estimating in SP’s "doesn’t take a lot of time". In fact, as anybody that has tried a non-trivial project knows it can take days of work to estimate the initial backlog for a reasonable size project.

I have had similar experiences and working with planning poker can take a lot of time. Let's presume that estimation could actually be done using just number of stories. I am wondering if the estimation process still adds some value to the team. Is estimation increasing their understanding about the story? Will some team members understand story differently if size is not fully discussed? If a sprint planning is done using some team average will it have negative effect on team "commitment"? Hmm, I guess we will find out sooner or later. Anyways, I think that complexity sciences are currently bringing very interesting stuff into Agile development.

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