Estimates Aren’t Dead

Yesterday, at a high-level executive meeting, one of the participants said , “I can’t evaluate that if I don’t know the team’s velocity and the points for that story.”

Wow. How times have changed. I didn’t even know the executive had ever heard of Agile or Scrum, let alone points or velocity.

Maybe he was just showing off and didn’t really know what those terms meant. I don’t know. I’d like to think he’d worked with other groups and had seen the value of knowing a team’s velocity and how many points would likely be achieved in a two-week sprint.

What it showed me was I can’t answer the question of ‘how long will it take?’ with “I don’t know. We’ll just get started and we’ll tell you when we’re done.’ Not because the executive needed a final cost (though that was important), but because there were many other pieces of the program that were launching at the same time that need to be coordinated.

I’m just not buying the ‘don’t estimate’ trend in Agile.

I really like Peter Green’s anecdote about the need to estimate brought to me by Mike Cohn’s blog: