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Best Practices for Estimating Work

Learn how to effectively estimate work in Shortcut

  1. Overview
  2. Story Point Scoring
  3. Assigning Points
  4. Using Points to Plan Iterations
  5. Using Docs

Step 3 - Assigning Points

Understand how to assign points to your Stories, Bugs, and Spikes.

Strategies for Assigning Story Points

We use pointing poker (the StoryPlan plugin for Slack) to assign points to Stories during our Refinement process. Every other week, we hold a 1-hour meeting with the entire squad. We go through the Stories, in order of priority (assigned by product) one by one in the following way:

1) The stakeholder who wrote the Story gives a brief overview of the Story.
2) The squad asks any clarifying questions to help us better understand the work required.
     a. If any small adjustments are needed, we make them live on the call.
     b. If the squad does not have enough information to know how we will tackle the story, then we will turn the Story into a spike/research Story. That spike story will be worked on first, and will result in the creation of a new Story, with better define criteria for how to complete the work.
3) Once we have exhausted questions, the team uses StoryPlan to vote on the story points.
     a. If the votes are within 1 step of each other (e.g., if all the votes are between 1 and 2 points) then we select the higher points (so in this case, we would assign the story 2 points).
     b. If the votes are more than 1 step apart (e.g., the votes are split between 1, 2, and 3 points) then those who voted for the high and low scores would make a case for their point assignment. Once the discussion is complete, then we re-point the Story.

When to Auto-Assign Points

We have 2 types of stories that are automatically assigned point values (no voting):

1) Bugs: We automatically assign bugs 3 Story points. This is because it is hard to know how complex a bug will be until we actually start to dig into the code.  If the bug begins to expand beyond 3 Story points worth of work as someone works on it, then we flag that and re-evaluate.

2) Spike/Research Stories: We automatically assign Spike stories 3 Story points.  This acts as a timebox for how much time should be spent on the Spike.  If more research is required after the 3-point allotment is complete, then we re-evaluated and potentially create another Spike story to continue research.