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155719INVEST stories and estimations

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  • Stephan Huez
    Sep 29, 2010
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      Hi all,

      I guess this point must have already been asked but I couldn't find it
      in the history of messages. I'd be happy to be pointed to any existing
      answer :)  I also googled on the topic and haven't found any
      satisfying answer for the whole issue so far.

      So, here is the point I'm having trouble with:

      When writing stories with a team, I always try to come up with stories
      that follow the INVEST guideline. However independent I try to make
      them, in the end, there is always a discussion relating to the

      I follow the idea that stories shall be vertical slices of the
      product. Therefore, many stories will eventually hit the database.
      When there are several stories that deal with the same concept, they
      will deal with the same database tables. Even though the stories are
      independent from a business perspective, broken down as CRUD
      operations for example, developers see them as technically dependent
      because they all deal with the same tables. Actually, they deal with
      the same domain objects, etc.

      I have to issues here:

      1/ Independence
      Am I wrong by understanding that the "I" in INVEST has to do with
      business independent and not technical layer independent? There is no
      absolute independence either.

      In order to achieve such independence, I try not to split stories too
      early so that they remain as independent as possible as long as
      possible. When stories reach the top of the stack, they can be broken
      down again. I think that some dependencies at that moment are
      acceptable, not to say unavoidable.

      How do you deal with such stories? What would you recommend ?

      2/ Estimates
      If I have CRUD operations for instance, the question that come from
      the teams are always: how do you estimate those stories because they
      are "technically" dependent. The next question is then: how do we
      estimate the common part. Indeed, the first story that will be
      implemented will have to create the database table and the domain
      objects and so on and so forth.

      I see different approaches:
      A/ Shall we estimate each story so that individual estimates each
      considers the initial effort?
      B/ Or shall we distribute initial effort over the stories?
      C/ Or shall we put the effort on one story and consider in the others
      that the foundations are present?
      D/ Or shall we just consider that the estimates will average out in
      the end so that the envisaged "overhead" does not really matter?

      I would be more inclined towards the last option. However, in the
      article of William Wake, INVEST in Good Stories and SMART Tasks, he

      << We can't always achieve this; once in a while we may say things
      like "3 points for the first report, then 1 point for each of the

      This is typically the C/ approach.

      I am very much interested to know you usually address this topic.

      Thanks very much in advance,
      Stephan Huez
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