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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 2 - Story Point Scoring

Learn how estimate work effectively and understand estimation best practices used by the Shortcut team.

Let’s breakdown how we think about point scoring. Your team may do things a little bit differently but it’s a good best practice to have this outlined in a Doc so your team is on the same page. Feel free to use this as a jumping off place for that.

  • 0 points: We do not use 0 points in our process - even for a task that may not require development time, it will still require someone’s time and energy. So that we can account for all work we’re doing, we assign all stories at least 1 point
  • 1 point: A very straightforward task with NO unknown risks.
    Example: Copy change in a place where we’ve changed copy before.
  • 2 points: A pretty straightforward task, with a low risk of an unknown or unexpected complexity cropping up.
    Example: Creating a new tracking event in our system, which is a task we do consistently.
  • 3 points: A mildly complex task and/or some unknowns that may cause an increase in complexity as we build (but we have a pretty solid idea of how we will approach the work).
    Example: Returning a new response in a payload for the frontend to consume, in an API we have worked in before.

  • 5 points: A more complex task and/or a solid amount of unknowns that will eat up time while the task is worked on.
    Example: Building a small feature in a part of the code that we may be unfamiliar with.
  • 8 points: A pretty complex task and/or a task that is mostly unknowns.
    Example: Building a feature in an area of the code we are unfamiliar with or that may have dependencies with other squads.

Note that we do not assign more than 8 points to any 1 Story.  If a Story is more than 8 points we break it down into smaller parts. In general, we also try to avoid 8-point Stories unless the work absolutely cannot be broken down any further or better understood. Learn more about best practices on how to best break down your Stories here. If you have created your Story and tasks and realize the work is too big for one Story, one option is to convert the Story to an Epic. This will create an Epic with the Story name and details and each task will become a Story.