Should I use hours to estimate my tasks in Scrum?

My new recommended “starter” “complementary practice” for new Scrum teams is to simply create tasks and use the “number of tasks remaining” for a burndown.  I encourage them more to focus on PRI (potentially releasable increments), Sprint Goals, and achieving a moderately consistent level of skill at meeting their Sprint forecasts (used to be called “Sprint commitment,” it’s been re-named in the Scrum Guide).  I also caution heavily against trying to achieve perfect forecast accuracy as that’s a fool’s errand in complex domains.

Using hours for tasks can lead down some really bad roads, most notably:  Former PM’s turned SM’s and other organizational members who try to apply PMI tactics (100% utilization, tracking actuals, etc) tactics to complex software development.  By preferring “sticking to the plan” over “responding to change”, they are completely violating Agile and Scrum.

This same bad road can also lead companies into think that “schedule/scope/cost” is an optimum model for software development.  As far as I’m concerned, schedule/scope/cost is a dead, failed model for software.  

Now, using hours for tasks doesn’t have to lead down those bad roads — but in my experiences, they usually do.  Let’s not forget, Scrum used to require hours for task estimation, many years ago, but the Scrum experiences of the wider community over 20 years has spoken on the topic — hours is not always optimum.  I would go farther than that and say, at the Sprint task level, it’s usually NOT optimum.

Given the above, I’ll leave it as an exercise to others to describe where using task hours might not lead down those bad roads.

_____
Charles Bradley
Professional Scrum Trainer
Scrum Coach-in-Chief
http://ScrumCrazy.com

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Scrum of Scrums is an event *of* the Development Team, *by* the Development Teams, and *for* the Development Teams!

Hello ScrumCrazy readers,

I’m proud to announce that my article on the “Scrum of Scrums” practice got posted on Scrum.org.

In the article I give some advice on excellence in execution of the Scrum of Scrums practice, and how the Scrum of Scrums has been misinterpreted my many to be a status meeting. It’s an event of the Development Teams, by the Development Teams, and for the Development Teams!

Please give it a look and give me feedback here or there. Feedback welcome!

New and Improved User Story Lifeycle Diagram — Free Creative Commons PDF download!

I had a designer friend update my User Story Lifecycle diagram, and she did a fantastic job!  You can download the PDF here:  http://www.scrumcrazy.com/lifecycle

New and Improved Diagram:

UserStoryLifeCycle_final_lg

The Older Diagram(also still available at the above link):

UserStoryLifecyclexm

Other Good User Story Links

Daily Scrum Patterns: The Sprint Backlog at the Daily Scrum

This blog post is part of a series of blog posts on Daily Scrum patterns.  For some background, you might find it useful to read my previous article on a simple Scrum Patterns framework.  Daily Scrum Patterns fall under the category of “Scrum Technique Patterns”, as introduced in that article.

Today we’ll talk about “Obstacle Resolution Patterns”

Notes:

“The Sprint Backlog at the Daily Scrum” Patterns

While it’s a popular and proven practice to <View the Sprint Backlog at the Daily Scrum>, it’s a controversial practice to <Update the Sprint Backlog at the Daily Scrum>, as the updating can detract from the true objectives and focus of the Daily Scrum in some situations.

Also, don’t forget to be creative and <Create Your Own Pattern>, and don’t ever hesitate to use a technique that is not described by a documented pattern.

The Sprint Backlog at the Daily Scrum Patterns:

Daily Scrum Patterns: Who Attends the Daily Scrum?

This blog post is part of a series of blog posts on Daily Scrum patterns.  For some background, you might find it useful to read my previous article on a simple Scrum Patterns framework.  Daily Scrum Patterns fall under the category of “Scrum Technique Patterns”, as introduced in that article.

Today we’ll talk about “Obstacle Resolution Patterns”

Notes:

Who Attends? Patterns

According to the Scrum Guide, the Development Team must attend. With many teams, and especially Shu level teams, the <Scrum Master Attends>. It’s usually a good practice if the <Product Owner Attends> so that they can help the Development Team if needed, often times at <The After Party>. It’s usually not good if an <Authority Figure Attends> on a regular basis.

Also, don’t forget to be creative and <Create Your Own Pattern>, and don’t ever hesitate to use a technique that is not described by a documented pattern.

Who Attends? Patterns:

Daily Scrum Patterns: Who Participates in the Daily Scrum?

This blog post is part of a series of blog posts on Daily Scrum patterns.  For some background, you might find it useful to read my previous article on a simple Scrum Patterns framework.  Daily Scrum Patterns fall under the category of “Scrum Technique Patterns”, as introduced in that article.

Today we’ll talk about “Obstacle Resolution Patterns”

Notes:

Who Participates? Patterns

The Scrum Guide says that “the Scrum Master enforces the rule that only Development Team members participate in the Daily Scrum.” However, some practitioners think it might be ok if the <Product Owner Participates> in the Daily Scrum. Having said that, it is incorrect Scrum if a <Non Scrum Team Member Participates> in the Daily Scrum, so consider using <The After Party> to let non Scrum Team Members communicate with the Scrum Team.

Also, don’t forget to be creative and <Create Your Own Pattern>, and don’t ever hesitate to use a technique that is not described by a documented pattern.

Who Participates? Patterns:

Daily Scrum Patterns: Facilitation Patterns

This blog post is part of a series of blog posts on Daily Scrum patterns.  (More coming in future posts over the next weeks).  For some background, you might find it useful to read my previous article on a simple Scrum Patterns framework.  Daily Scrum Patterns fall under the category of “Scrum Technique Patterns”, as introduced in that article.

Notes:

Facilitation Patterns

Most teams hold the Daily Scrum as a <Standup Meeting>, but this is not required in Scrum, and some teams that are distributed feel like it’s ok to hold a <Sit Down Meeting> so long as they are faithfully executing the objectives of the Daily Scrum.

Teams just starting with Scrum might benefit from a <Close Facilitator>, so long as that doesn’t turn into a <Controlling Facilitator>. A bad practice is facilitating a Daily Scrum such that it <Turns into a Waterfall Status Meeting>.

Also, don’t forget to be creative and <Create Your Own Pattern>, and don’t ever hesitate to use a technique that is not described by a documented pattern.

Facilitation Patterns:

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