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Re: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs. actuals?

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  • Ken Schwaber
    Dan, It s not posted yet, but someone reminded me of Holland s description of a complex process or object. It is something of which the only model is itself;
    Message 1 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
      Dan,
      It's not posted yet, but someone reminded me of Holland's description of a complex process or object. It is something of which the only model is itself; there is no abstraction of it that is possible. That's the core problem with comparing estimates to actuals; there is no abstraction that will improve the estimating in the future. Your managers are thinking of simple processes, not complex processes.
      Ken
      >
      > From: Daniel Gackle <gackle@...>
      > Date: 2003/10/05 Sun AM 01:35:20 CDT
      > To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs. actuals?
      >
      > At my company, some managers believe in tracking estimates vs. actuals. They
      > like what my team is doing with Scrum, but they'd like it better if we gave
      > them a spreadsheet every month matching the estimate for each task with the
      > hours actually spent on that task.
      >
      > I feel bad about this and don't want to do it. It feels contrary to the
      > spirit of self-organizing teams, like someone is looking over our shoulder.
      > Yet I can't fully articulate what's wrong with it.
      >
      > Can anyone help me get clearer on this?
      >
      > - Daniel
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: "Gamble, Ken" <ken.gamble@...>
      > Subject: New Scrum Article Available
      >
      > No matter how well someone measures past estimates against actuals even a
      > small change in the estimate can have a big effect on the outcome of a
      > chaotic/complex process no matter how good the model is or the resolution of
      > the measurements.
      >
      > What this means for software development is that even though we can use
      > previous estimates as part of a process model for delivering software we
      > have to keep a sharp eye (Scrum management) on the process because it can
      > wonder off course simply because of these small values, even if the process
      > model is very tightly defined.
      >
      >
      >
      > To Post a message, send it to: scrumdevelopment@...
      > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: scrumdevelopment-unsubscribe@...
      >
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      >
      >
      >
    • Mike Cohn
      I d say you shouldn t do it because it doesn t add value commensurate with its cost. Don t argue with your bosses that it adds no value because comparing
      Message 2 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
        I'd say you shouldn't do it because it doesn't add value commensurate with
        its cost. Don't argue with your bosses that it "adds no value" because
        comparing what you originally thought a task would take with what it did
        take can help make you a better estimator.

        But, it can be time-consuming to track actuals, especially for a full team
        where some on the team are probably already decent estimators.

        Because Scrum already has solid mechanisms for monitoring whether all the
        work gets done in a sprint (high team commitment, daily burndown charts,
        daily scrum, and so on), Scrum does not have the same reliance on early and
        accurating estimating that a predictive or waterfall approach does.

        So--the cost to gather actuals is the same in Scrum or waterfall. The
        benefit in Scrum is greatly reduced.

        --Mike



        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Daniel Gackle [mailto:gackle@...]
        > Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 12:35 AM
        > To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs.
        > actuals?
        >
        > At my company, some managers believe in tracking estimates vs. actuals.
        > They
        > like what my team is doing with Scrum, but they'd like it better if we
        > gave
        > them a spreadsheet every month matching the estimate for each task with
        > the
        > hours actually spent on that task.
        >
        > I feel bad about this and don't want to do it. It feels contrary to the
        > spirit of self-organizing teams, like someone is looking over our
        > shoulder.
        > Yet I can't fully articulate what's wrong with it.
        >
        > Can anyone help me get clearer on this?
        >
        > - Daniel
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: "Gamble, Ken" <ken.gamble@...>
        > Subject: New Scrum Article Available
        >
        > No matter how well someone measures past estimates against actuals even a
        > small change in the estimate can have a big effect on the outcome of a
        > chaotic/complex process no matter how good the model is or the resolution
        > of
        > the measurements.
        >
        > What this means for software development is that even though we can use
        > previous estimates as part of a process model for delivering software we
        > have to keep a sharp eye (Scrum management) on the process because it can
        > wonder off course simply because of these small values, even if the
        > process
        > model is very tightly defined.
        >
        >
        >
        > To Post a message, send it to: scrumdevelopment@...
        > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: scrumdevelopment-
        > unsubscribe@...
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      • Marc Hamann
        ... What are they trying to improve with this metric? Make the team better estimators? The bound on estimation is knowledge: the more you know about what you
        Message 3 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
          At 02:35 AM 10/5/03, Daniel wrote:
          >At my company, some managers believe in tracking estimates vs. actuals.

          What are they trying to improve with this metric? Make the team better
          estimators?

          The bound on estimation is knowledge: the more you know about what you
          have to do, the better you can estimate.

          This means that if you are doing something you've done before in exactly
          the same way, you can estimate it better than for something you haven't.

          But the whole idea of being agile is to be able to respond to the unknown
          changes that inevitably come. Encouraging people to become better
          estimators is equivalent to asking them to take fewer risks and to be in
          denial about radical changes in requirements and circumstances. Dealing
          with those things means throwing your estimates off.

          So why measure it?

          What I WOULD want to measure is effectiveness: is the team delivering more
          functionality per sprint (especially over the first several sprints), or at
          least an acceptable constant level. Delivered functionality is the only
          metric that matters, IMHO, so spending time and "guilt points" on any other
          metric that isn't directly dependent on this is counter-productive.

          You'll simply encourage "improvement" in a direction that is not aligned
          with your primary goal.

          Hope this is an argument you can use. ;-)

          Marc
        • David J. Anderson
          I m glad this topic came up because I ve been thinking about it a lot recently. Thanks Daniel! In FDD as documented by De Luca, Palmer and Felsing, developers
          Message 4 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
            I'm glad this topic came up because I've been thinking
            about it a lot recently. Thanks Daniel!

            In FDD as documented by De Luca, Palmer and Felsing,
            developers are asked for planned and actual dates for
            each of the 6 Feature milestones. In my own very
            recent book, "Agile Management for Software
            Engineering", http://www.agilemanagement.net/ , I
            document a different - more Scrum-like approach and
            described why I changed FDD and why I believed the
            alternative worked better.

            I abandonded planned dates on individual Feature
            milestones and replaced them with a single date for
            delivery of a Chief Programmer Work Package (an
            approximately 2 week batch of work) along with a
            scrum-like daily standup meeting. The team was asked
            to focus daily on the production rate (equivalent to
            burndown rate). With the team I was managing in Kansas
            City, at the time, this worked much better. I
            documented this in The Coad Letter #101,
            http://bdn.borland.com/article/0,1410,29686,00.html

            It eliminated the local safety problem of individual
            commitments, i.e. too much buffer on each fine-grained
            task. It also [as Mike C] points out eliminates cost
            of calculating the planned dates. In FDD the cost of
            tracking the actual deliveries is trivial.

            However, a Development Manager - Mike Watson - that I
            work with currrently in Seattle, is busy changing his
            team back to Jeff De Luca's preferred approach of
            individual milestone commitments. Why?

            We have concluded that whether or not the aggregated
            commitment and daily standup works best versus planned
            individual milestones has a lot to do with the culture
            of the organization and the mindset or attitude of the
            team. In the most recent case, the daily standup
            meeting was proving ineffective for reasons too
            complex to explain in this post. Also the team
            mentality tended towards another time delivery problem
            - student syndrome - the idea that a task is started
            at the last available moment and any safety buffer is
            used up first through procrastination. Hence, even on
            a 2-week commitment the team wouldn't get going at
            full speed until closer to the completion date. The
            result was that often the completion date was missed.
            By changing back to fine-grained planned versus actual
            dates, this problem was eliminated.

            Hence, I now feel that both solutions work under
            certain conditions and circumstances, with different
            sets of people and different management cultures.

            Regards,

            David
            --
            David J. Anderson
            author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
            http://www.agilemanagement.net/


            --- Mike Cohn <mike@...> wrote:

            I'd say you shouldn't do it because it doesn't add
            value commensurate with
            its cost. Don't argue with your bosses that it "adds
            no value" because
            comparing what you originally thought a task would
            take with what it did
            take can help make you a better estimator.

            But, it can be time-consuming to track actuals,
            especially for a full team
            where some on the team are probably already decent
            estimators.

            Because Scrum already has solid mechanisms for
            monitoring whether all the
            work gets done in a sprint (high team commitment,
            daily burndown charts,
            daily scrum, and so on), Scrum does not have the same
            reliance on early and
            accurating estimating that a predictive or waterfall
            approach does.

            So--the cost to gather actuals is the same in Scrum or
            waterfall. The
            benefit in Scrum is greatly reduced.

            --Mike




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          • Marc Hamann
            ... I don t think this is a planning problem but engineering practices problem. If the team is failing to meet their commitments due to procrastination, you
            Message 5 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
              At 03:35 PM 10/5/03, David J. Anderson wrote:
              >Also the team
              >mentality tended towards another time delivery problem
              >- student syndrome - the idea that a task is started
              >at the last available moment and any safety buffer is
              >used up first through procrastination.

              I don't think this is a planning problem but "engineering practices" problem.

              If the team is failing to meet their commitments due to procrastination,
              you have to ask yourself if you have the team you need.
              If you decide not to fire them immediately, you can use the daily meeting
              to expose that progress is not being made early in the sprint, and to push
              them to use techniques that produce more regular increments of value. (One
              such technique is test-driven development.)

              As an alternative, reduce the length of your sprint until they don't feel
              there is any buffer.

              I think that baby-sitting the team into behaving like professionals through
              micro-measurements can only have deleterious effects in the long run, and
              will neutralize the benefits of using an agile development methodology.

              If on the other hand, the team IS meeting its commitments, in spite of
              procrastinating, let them procrastinate, I say. Maybe that just works
              better for them, and so be it.

              Either way, you encourage the wrong adaptations by instituting an
              estimation improvement regime.

              Marc
            • Ron Jeffries
              ... Probably not, but I ll try. Some folks have touched on some of these thoughts already. My initial reaction is that for some reason, someone doesn t trust
              Message 6 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
                On Sunday, October 5, 2003, at 2:35:20 AM, Daniel Gackle wrote:

                > At my company, some managers believe in tracking estimates vs. actuals. They
                > like what my team is doing with Scrum, but they'd like it better if we gave
                > them a spreadsheet every month matching the estimate for each task with the
                > hours actually spent on that task.

                > I feel bad about this and don't want to do it. It feels contrary to the
                > spirit of self-organizing teams, like someone is looking over our shoulder.
                > Yet I can't fully articulate what's wrong with it.

                > Can anyone help me get clearer on this?

                Probably not, but I'll try. Some folks have touched on some of these
                thoughts already.

                My initial reaction is that for some reason, someone doesn't trust you. I
                hope that's not the case, but if it is, I'd try to figure out some way to
                deal with it directly.

                Second, it probably really doesn't do any harm if you collect this
                information. They might try to use it to set objectives to make the numbers
                match. If they did, I'd respond thusly:

                1. Seems to me that what's important is that the project is on schedule.
                (If it is. If it isn't, that's what's important.) When we schedule things
                into a Sprint, the team looks at the whole picture, not just the
                individual tasks, and rallies around to get the best possible combination
                of software does that meets the Sprint Goal. That's what's making this
                work. We don't really even know who is going to work on some of these
                tasks, until the time comes to do it. The purpose of the estimates is to
                be able to add them up and come close enough to a Sprint Goal that can be
                attained. We're not trying to get them "right", we're trying to use them
                to estimate the overall cost of gaining the business value represented by
                the next Sprint Goal. Here's how well they're working for that <drawing
                their attention back to the point of how the whole project is going>.

                2. When we look at these numbers, we see two things: we see a general
                (under/over) estimate component, that looks like about (X) percent. And
                around that systematic error, we see a random component that is about (Y)
                percent. So long as the random component is reasonable (and it is (unless
                it isn't)), the laws of large numbers cancel the errors out. That's why
                the burndown chart looks so straight <drawing their attention back to how
                well burndown is going>.

                3. We are concerned about systematic error. [At least I guess that Scrum
                must be concerned about that. XP is not.] Here's how it is varying over
                time. Each Sprint we look at how we did and we adjust our estimates
                basically proportionately, taking into account anything we've leared
                about specific requirements that might make their estimates go up or down
                relative to the others.

                4. The most important thing, boss, is this: we're new at Scrum. Scrum has
                been designed by people who are much smarter than we are about these
                things, and it has been tested in many situations like ours. Until we get
                more experience with doing the process out of the box, chief, I recommend
                that we stick with the basic Scrum. We should take a look at making it
                better once we can do it in its standard form. After all, it's delivering
                us good results.

                Or something like that.

                Of course, having collected the information and showed it to them, we might
                find out that it's completely harmless to do so. That's always possible ...

                Ron Jeffries
                www.XProgramming.com
                Master your instrument, master the music,
                and then forget all that *!xy!@ and just play. -- Charlie Parker
              • Anko Tijman
                ... wrote: Your managers are thinking of simple processes, not complex processes. ... Traditional approach: thinking of a simple process,
                Message 7 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
                  --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Ken Schwaber
                  <ken.schwaber@v...> wrote:
                  Your managers are thinking of simple processes, not complex processes.
                  > Ken

                  Traditional approach: thinking of a simple process, and developing
                  complex software

                  Agile approach: thinking of a complex process, and developing simple
                  software



                  What a contradiction....
                  ;-)


                  Anko Tijman
                • David J. Anderson
                  Marc, It s always interesting to speculate on what works and doesn t work. In this case, I know that both approaches work with different teams. I have run more
                  Message 8 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
                    Marc,

                    It's always interesting to speculate on what works and
                    doesn't work.

                    In this case, I know that both approaches work with
                    different teams. I have run more than 15 projects in 4
                    Fortune 1000 companies (more than 10 of them at Sprint
                    and Motorola - both Fortune 100).

                    Hence, I just don't buy into the "one way works and
                    the other way doesn't" belief. I have the metrics and
                    the released systems to prove it.

                    You're suggested approach of "just fire them" is
                    seldom an option for a manager in a big company - nor
                    should it be. Getting people to change can be
                    difficult or impossible - changing a culture can be
                    harder.

                    Regards,

                    David

                    --- Marc Hamann <marc@...> wrote:

                    I think that baby-sitting the team into behaving like
                    professionals through
                    micro-measurements can only have deleterious effects
                    in the long run, and
                    will neutralize the benefits of using an agile
                    development methodology.

                    If on the other hand, the team IS meeting its
                    commitments, in spite of
                    procrastinating, let them procrastinate, I say. Maybe
                    that just works
                    better for them, and so be it.

                    Either way, you encourage the wrong adaptations by
                    instituting an
                    estimation improvement regime.

                    Marc



                    =====
                    David J Anderson
                    Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                    http://www.agilemanagement.net/

                    __________________________________
                    Do you Yahoo!?
                    The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
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                  • Marc Hamann
                    David, My claim is not that your approach doesn t work; there a innumerable systems that have been built using BDUF or even ad hoc methodologies. I m sure that
                    Message 9 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
                      David,

                      My claim is not that your approach doesn't work; there a innumerable
                      systems that have been built using BDUF or even ad hoc methodologies.
                      I'm sure that many of these conform to various sorts of acceptable metrics.

                      However, such practices are not Agile in general or Scrum in
                      particular. Moreover, they work against the goals and values that Agile
                      and Scrum promote, which is counter-productive if you are trying to combine
                      them with Agile practices.

                      My implication that the team should be fired was provocative, but "that
                      won't work here because of our culture/our programmers/our boss" is the
                      most common objection I hear to using Agile techniques. This seems
                      counter-intuitive to me, since I believe that the great virtue of Agile
                      techniques is that they can be used even in adverse circumstances.

                      You don't have to change the culture to start using the techniques; just do
                      your best to implement the practices, and avoid any practices which work
                      against the goals and values you are trying to promote.

                      It's not magic, it's not easy, but if you don't at least try the best you
                      can, you can't claim to be doing Scrum or Agile.

                      Regards,

                      Marc

                      At 01:12 PM 10/6/03, you wrote:
                      >Marc,
                      >
                      >It's always interesting to speculate on what works and
                      >doesn't work.
                      >
                      >In this case, I know that both approaches work with
                      >different teams. I have run more than 15 projects in 4
                      >Fortune 1000 companies (more than 10 of them at Sprint
                      >and Motorola - both Fortune 100).
                      >
                      >Hence, I just don't buy into the "one way works and
                      >the other way doesn't" belief. I have the metrics and
                      >the released systems to prove it.
                      >
                      >You're suggested approach of "just fire them" is
                      >seldom an option for a manager in a big company - nor
                      >should it be. Getting people to change can be
                      >difficult or impossible - changing a culture can be
                      >harder.
                      >
                      >Regards,
                      >
                      >David
                      >
                      >--- Marc Hamann <marc@...> wrote:
                      >
                      >I think that baby-sitting the team into behaving like
                      >professionals through
                      >micro-measurements can only have deleterious effects
                      >in the long run, and
                      >will neutralize the benefits of using an agile
                      >development methodology.
                      >
                      >If on the other hand, the team IS meeting its
                      >commitments, in spite of
                      >procrastinating, let them procrastinate, I say. Maybe
                      >that just works
                      >better for them, and so be it.
                      >
                      >Either way, you encourage the wrong adaptations by
                      >instituting an
                      >estimation improvement regime.
                      >
                      >Marc
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >=====
                      >David J Anderson
                      >Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                      >http://www.agilemanagement.net/
                      >
                      >__________________________________
                      >Do you Yahoo!?
                      >The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
                      >http://shopping.yahoo.com
                      >
                      >
                      >To Post a message, send it to: scrumdevelopment@...
                      >To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
                      >scrumdevelopment-unsubscribe@...
                      >
                      >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    • David J. Anderson
                      Marc, I think there is a danger of doing agile for the sake of it. The real goal is to make more money by delivering more value faster to the end of value
                      Message 10 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
                        Marc,

                        I think there is a danger of "doing agile" for the
                        sake of it. The real goal is to make more money by
                        delivering more value faster to the end of value
                        chain. If agilists lose sight of this then agile will
                        be a fad rather than a genuine trend.

                        I would contest your observation that making the best
                        ROI or the most money is always best done using the
                        very pure agile techniques you describe.

                        For example, in the Boehm and Turner book they
                        describe a 3 year long XP project which using more
                        than 30 developers in a 50 person team produced around
                        500,000 SLOC. Compare this to the CLS project at UOB
                        in Singapore (the original FDD project) which was
                        performed using the fine-grained planned versus actual
                        which with slightly less people (47) but with only 23
                        developers produced 1,500,000 SLOC in only 18 months.

                        If SLOC is a reliable metric (and I don't believe it
                        is but given a lack of a function point assessment of
                        both projects it is all we have) then the first FDD
                        project seems to be up to 6 times more effective than
                        the textbook XP project reported by Boehm and Turner.

                        Not only was the CLS project a huge success but after
                        it was rolled live - the bank (UOB) was able to take
                        over its nearest competitor. This was achieved through
                        improved competitiveness and the lending system
                        delivered by the CLS project played a key part in
                        providing that competitiveness.

                        One of the big problems with agile successes is that
                        they get reported in a relative manner e.g. we
                        implemented (pick a method you like e.g. Scrum) and we
                        produced a four fold improvement. There are lots of
                        such anecdotes. Ken even includes one in the Scrum
                        book. However, none of these results are reported as
                        absolute figures in a normalized manner. The success
                        has a lot to do with the starting position. It's
                        always easy to improve a very poor organization.

                        So I fail to accept that you can assert that adhoc,
                        self-organizing processes can outperform lean
                        processes which still include aspects such as planned
                        versus actual dates. When you can show me the metrics
                        from real projects reported in a normalized fashion,
                        from projects performed in large businesses with large
                        value-added or revenue generation potential then I
                        might start to believe.

                        Cordially,
                        David
                        --
                        David J. Anderson
                        author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                        http://www.agilemanagement.net/

                        --- Marc Hamann <marc@...> wrote:

                        David,

                        My claim is not that your approach doesn't work; there
                        a innumerable
                        systems that have been built using BDUF or even ad hoc
                        methodologies.
                        I'm sure that many of these conform to various sorts
                        of acceptable metrics.

                        However, such practices are not Agile in general or
                        Scrum in
                        particular. Moreover, they work against the goals and
                        values that Agile
                        and Scrum promote, which is counter-productive if you
                        are trying to combine
                        them with Agile practices.

                        My implication that the team should be fired was
                        provocative, but "that
                        won't work here because of our culture/our
                        programmers/our boss" is the
                        most common objection I hear to using Agile
                        techniques. This seems
                        counter-intuitive to me, since I believe that the
                        great virtue of Agile
                        techniques is that they can be used even in adverse
                        circumstances.

                        You don't have to change the culture to start using
                        the techniques; just do
                        your best to implement the practices, and avoid any
                        practices which work
                        against the goals and values you are trying to
                        promote.

                        It's not magic, it's not easy, but if you don't at
                        least try the best you
                        can, you can't claim to be doing Scrum or Agile.

                        Regards,

                        Marc



                        =====
                        David J Anderson
                        Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                        http://www.agilemanagement.net/

                        __________________________________
                        Do you Yahoo!?
                        The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
                        http://shopping.yahoo.com
                      • Marc Hamann
                        David, ... I agree that doing agile is not an end in and of itself. Providing return on investment and return on expectation is the real goal. We do this by
                        Message 11 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
                          David,

                          >I think there is a danger of "doing agile" for the
                          >sake of it. The real goal is to make more money by
                          >delivering more value faster to the end of value
                          >chain.

                          I agree that "doing agile" is not an end in and of itself. Providing
                          return on investment and return on expectation is the real goal.

                          We do this by producing working software that fulfills the needs of the
                          customer. I'm quite skeptical that we can do this by producing "metrics".

                          The only metric that counts is how many of the customer's requirements we
                          clear out of the backlog by delivering well-made, working software for a
                          given cost.
                          Any other metric may or may not be a helpful guideline to help you
                          accomplish that primary goal, but some metrics are blatantly
                          counter-productive because they encourage the wrong behaviour.

                          I'm glad you agree that SLOC is not a good metric; crappy code can eat up
                          WAY more lines than good code. ;-)

                          >One of the big problems with agile successes is that
                          >they get reported in a relative manner

                          I suppose part of our disagreement comes from our different concerns. You
                          want to bring a scientific study to the successes of particular cases.
                          Though I'm skeptical that you can ever factor out all the variables that go
                          into a large project and isolate with absolute objectivity that one method
                          is better than another, I can understand why you want to do this.

                          However, I'm in the trenches, and the only reason I give a fig about the
                          Agile methodologies is that they offer approaches and techniques that solve
                          my real day to day challenges in building good, reliable, low cost
                          software. What Chrysler did, or some offshore bank, though perhaps of
                          academic interest will not sway me one way or another as to whether those
                          techniques will work for me. If they work for me, I use them, if they
                          don't, I won't.

                          >So I fail to accept that you can assert that adhoc,
                          >self-organizing processes can outperform lean
                          >processes which still include aspects such as planned
                          >versus actual dates.

                          Well, since we are unlikely to find mutually satisfactory metrics for
                          determining performance, I don't think I would make that claim. ;-)

                          However, I do know that professionals who are too valuable to be fired are
                          smart enough to tell when they are being micro-managed or babied, and
                          neither of these brings out high morale, creativity and "can do" spirit.

                          Remember that people will focus their energies on whatever you measure to
                          evaluate them. If you measure their ability to estimate rather than their
                          ability to produce working software, you will encourage them to pace their
                          work to the plan, rather than doing the best they can always, to avoid
                          taking risks that might throw their estimations off, even if it would
                          improve the product.

                          I can't see how that will improve productivity. In fact, I wouldn't
                          believe it were so even if you showed me some metrics. ;-)

                          >When you can show me the metrics
                          >from real projects reported in a normalized fashion,
                          >from projects performed in large businesses with large
                          >value-added or revenue generation potential then I
                          >might start to believe.

                          When the Buddha was asked "Why should I believe what your saying?", he
                          replied "Don't believe it. Try it for yourself ."

                          I can't improve on that. ;-)

                          Marc
                        • Daniel Gackle
                          Thanks to everyone who replied on estimates vs. actuals. The best thing for me was seeing the diversity of opinion on it, which helped me realize we can just
                          Message 12 of 20 , Oct 10, 2003
                            Thanks to everyone who replied on estimates vs. actuals. The best thing for
                            me was seeing the diversity of opinion on it, which helped me realize we can
                            just be pragmatic. Both Jeff's and Ron's reply of "why not give them what
                            they want if it doesn't cost you anything" (my paraphrase) seems applicable
                            to our situation. For me this is part of learning to distinguish the
                            essential stuff from the secondary stuff (which can just flex).

                            I remain perplexed about exactly what people think they're going to get out
                            of such numbers. Maybe my problem is that word "exactly". Maybe they just
                            have a fuzzy idea of what they think they'll get... something vague but
                            comforting, like "more control".

                            Daniel
                          • David J. Anderson
                            ... I remain perplexed about exactly what people think they re going to get out of such numbers. Maybe my problem is that word exactly . Maybe they just have
                            Message 13 of 20 , Oct 11, 2003
                              --- Daniel Gackle <gackle@...> wrote:

                              I remain perplexed about exactly what people think
                              they're going to get out
                              of such numbers. Maybe my problem is that word
                              "exactly". Maybe they just
                              have a fuzzy idea of what they think they'll get...
                              something vague but
                              comforting, like "more control".

                              Daniel

                              -=-=-

                              Daniel,

                              There is a real danger that some mangers/directors
                              will try to use the data for staff evaluation and use
                              it to filter out targets for layoffs. I worked with a
                              director at Sprint who tried to do this. I (somewhat)
                              successfully turned this into athe more benign,
                              monitoring of our ability to estimate. This made it
                              more a metric measuring line managers like me, than a
                              metric measuring my staff. I saw that as part of my
                              job - taking the heat away from the workforce.

                              Hence, I think that you are right to be wary. I don't
                              think that anyone believes they have more control from
                              metrics like these - other than they believe that they
                              will get early warning of slippages.

                              People I work with who believe in short-time window
                              planned versus actual, i.e. only planned out up to two
                              weeks ahead, believe that it provides commitment and
                              focus when that can't be achieved through other means
                              such as daily standups.

                              I don't know anyone who genuinely believes that
                              fine-grained planned versus actual dates works beyond
                              that time period. Trying to make a full release plan
                              in advance is just inviting Gantt Chart hell and
                              providing busy work for project managers anxious to
                              keep their jobs and their PMI qualifications.
                              Sometimes, you should look to the personal motivation
                              and the extremely local optimum for an explanation of
                              why something is the way it is.

                              David



                              =====
                              David J Anderson
                              Author of "Agile Management for Software Engineering"
                              http://www.agilemanagement.net/

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                            • Ken Schwaber
                              In some instances we re going to be stuck with tracking actuals. Mel Pullen pointed out that this may be a symptom of displaced management trying to figure out
                              Message 14 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
                                In some instances we're going to be stuck with tracking actuals. Mel Pullen
                                pointed out that this may be a symptom of displaced management trying to
                                figure out how they are adding value, and relying on what they have used in
                                the past to add that value. They have always tried to improve predictabity
                                in the past, let's try to do it in the future.

                                I've always tried to get management to do another job. I've tried to get
                                them to see how well or badly a team does, what it can produce Sprint by
                                Sprint. Then I ask them to actually do the job of management - figure out
                                what to do based on what the team has been able to build. Should release
                                dates be changed? Should the project be decommissioned? Should functionality
                                be dropped from this release? Should the team's expertise be improved in
                                some areas? To me, these are all reasonable areas of management expertise,
                                not throwing the problem back on the team by saying, "improve your
                                estimates."

                                Ken

                                -----Original Message-----
                                From: Mike Cohn [mailto:mike@...]
                                Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 9:57 AM
                                To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: RE: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs.
                                actuals?


                                I'd say you shouldn't do it because it doesn't add value commensurate with
                                its cost. Don't argue with your bosses that it "adds no value" because
                                comparing what you originally thought a task would take with what it did
                                take can help make you a better estimator.

                                But, it can be time-consuming to track actuals, especially for a full team
                                where some on the team are probably already decent estimators.

                                Because Scrum already has solid mechanisms for monitoring whether all the
                                work gets done in a sprint (high team commitment, daily burndown charts,
                                daily scrum, and so on), Scrum does not have the same reliance on early and
                                accurating estimating that a predictive or waterfall approach does.

                                So--the cost to gather actuals is the same in Scrum or waterfall. The
                                benefit in Scrum is greatly reduced.

                                --Mike



                                > -----Original Message-----
                                > From: Daniel Gackle [mailto:gackle@...]
                                > Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 12:35 AM
                                > To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs.
                                > actuals?
                                >
                                > At my company, some managers believe in tracking estimates vs. actuals.
                                > They
                                > like what my team is doing with Scrum, but they'd like it better if we
                                > gave
                                > them a spreadsheet every month matching the estimate for each task with
                                > the
                                > hours actually spent on that task.
                                >
                                > I feel bad about this and don't want to do it. It feels contrary to the
                                > spirit of self-organizing teams, like someone is looking over our
                                > shoulder.
                                > Yet I can't fully articulate what's wrong with it.
                                >
                                > Can anyone help me get clearer on this?
                                >
                                > - Daniel
                                >
                                > -----Original Message-----
                                > From: "Gamble, Ken" <ken.gamble@...>
                                > Subject: New Scrum Article Available
                                >
                                > No matter how well someone measures past estimates against actuals even a
                                > small change in the estimate can have a big effect on the outcome of a
                                > chaotic/complex process no matter how good the model is or the resolution
                                > of
                                > the measurements.
                                >
                                > What this means for software development is that even though we can use
                                > previous estimates as part of a process model for delivering software we
                                > have to keep a sharp eye (Scrum management) on the process because it can
                                > wonder off course simply because of these small values, even if the
                                > process
                                > model is very tightly defined.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > To Post a message, send it to: scrumdevelopment@...
                                > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: scrumdevelopment-
                                > unsubscribe@...
                                >
                                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/




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                              • Steven Gordon
                                I have worked on many projects in the past where the elimination of labor was considered a significant benefit, if not the greatest benefit of the resulting
                                Message 15 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
                                  I have worked on many projects in the past where the elimination of labor was considered a significant benefit, if not the greatest benefit of the resulting process and/or product.

                                  Why would the elimination of unnecessary management labor not be a benefit to a client? Maybe, the case needs to be made further up the food chain?


                                  -----Original Message-----
                                  From: Ken Schwaber [mailto:ken.schwaber@...]
                                  Sent: Sun 10/12/2003 4:03 AM
                                  To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                  Cc:
                                  Subject: RE: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs. actuals?

                                  In some instances we're going to be stuck with tracking actuals. Mel Pullen
                                  pointed out that this may be a symptom of displaced management trying to
                                  figure out how they are adding value, and relying on what they have used in
                                  the past to add that value. They have always tried to improve predictabity
                                  in the past, let's try to do it in the future.

                                  I've always tried to get management to do another job. I've tried to get
                                  them to see how well or badly a team does, what it can produce Sprint by
                                  Sprint. Then I ask them to actually do the job of management - figure out
                                  what to do based on what the team has been able to build. Should release
                                  dates be changed? Should the project be decommissioned? Should functionality
                                  be dropped from this release? Should the team's expertise be improved in
                                  some areas? To me, these are all reasonable areas of management expertise,
                                  not throwing the problem back on the team by saying, "improve your
                                  estimates."

                                  Ken

                                  -----Original Message-----
                                  From: Mike Cohn [mailto:mike@...]
                                  Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 9:57 AM
                                  To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                  Subject: RE: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs.
                                  actuals?


                                  I'd say you shouldn't do it because it doesn't add value commensurate with
                                  its cost. Don't argue with your bosses that it "adds no value" because
                                  comparing what you originally thought a task would take with what it did
                                  take can help make you a better estimator.

                                  But, it can be time-consuming to track actuals, especially for a full team
                                  where some on the team are probably already decent estimators.

                                  Because Scrum already has solid mechanisms for monitoring whether all the
                                  work gets done in a sprint (high team commitment, daily burndown charts,
                                  daily scrum, and so on), Scrum does not have the same reliance on early and
                                  accurating estimating that a predictive or waterfall approach does.

                                  So--the cost to gather actuals is the same in Scrum or waterfall. The
                                  benefit in Scrum is greatly reduced.

                                  --Mike



                                  > -----Original Message-----
                                  > From: Daniel Gackle [mailto:gackle@...]
                                  > Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 12:35 AM
                                  > To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs.
                                  > actuals?
                                  >
                                  > At my company, some managers believe in tracking estimates vs. actuals.
                                  > They
                                  > like what my team is doing with Scrum, but they'd like it better if we
                                  > gave
                                  > them a spreadsheet every month matching the estimate for each task with
                                  > the
                                  > hours actually spent on that task.
                                  >
                                  > I feel bad about this and don't want to do it. It feels contrary to the
                                  > spirit of self-organizing teams, like someone is looking over our
                                  > shoulder.
                                  > Yet I can't fully articulate what's wrong with it.
                                  >
                                  > Can anyone help me get clearer on this?
                                  >
                                  > - Daniel
                                  >
                                  > -----Original Message-----
                                  > From: "Gamble, Ken" <ken.gamble@...>
                                  > Subject: New Scrum Article Available
                                  >
                                  > No matter how well someone measures past estimates against actuals even a
                                  > small change in the estimate can have a big effect on the outcome of a
                                  > chaotic/complex process no matter how good the model is or the resolution
                                  > of
                                  > the measurements.
                                  >
                                  > What this means for software development is that even though we can use
                                  > previous estimates as part of a process model for delivering software we
                                  > have to keep a sharp eye (Scrum management) on the process because it can
                                  > wonder off course simply because of these small values, even if the
                                  > process
                                  > model is very tightly defined.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > To Post a message, send it to: scrumdevelopment@...
                                  > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: scrumdevelopment-
                                  > unsubscribe@...
                                  >
                                  > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/




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                                • Edmund Schweppe
                                  ... What will the client do with the managers whose unnecessary management labor will be eliminated? Or, more to the point, what do the affected managers
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
                                    Steven Gordon wrote:
                                    > I have worked on many projects in the past where the
                                    > elimination of labor was considered a significant benefit,
                                    > if not the greatest benefit of the resulting process and/or
                                    > product.
                                    >
                                    > Why would the elimination of unnecessary management labor not
                                    > be a benefit to a client? Maybe, the case needs to be made
                                    > further up the food chain?

                                    What will the client do with the managers whose "unnecessary management
                                    labor" will be eliminated? Or, more to the point, what do the affected
                                    managers *think* the client will do with them?

                                    If the particular client has a history of dealing with "unnecessary"
                                    positions by firing the persons therein, the affected managers are going
                                    to be *very* strongly motivated to make sure *their* positions are seen
                                    as "necessary".

                                    --
                                    Edmund Schweppe -- schweppe@... -- http://schweppe.home.tiac.net
                                    The opinions expressed herein are at best coincidentally related to
                                    those of any past, present or future employer.
                                  • Steven Gordon
                                    The main difference is whose position is being eliminated. It bothers me that projects which reduce how much labor it takes to do production
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
                                      The main difference is whose position is being eliminated.

                                      <Rant mode on>

                                      It bothers me that projects which reduce how much labor it takes to do production will lead to reductions in force, but projects that reduce how much management is required just leads to managers with time on their hands.

                                      And managers with time on their hands leads to micromanagement activities like tracking estimates vs. actuals in a process where the metric is not highly correlated to success. Next, they will try to weigh the process down with collecting even more metrics that are not success factors, and start applying 6-sigma optimizations on them. Will anybody notice that these measured metrics will improve, but actual productivity and true successes will decrease? Probably not, because they will define productivity and success in terms of the metrics they are collecting and analyzing.

                                      <Rant mode off>

                                      Sorry if I offended any managers here.

                                      -----Original Message-----
                                      From: Edmund Schweppe [mailto:schweppe@...]
                                      Sent: Sun 10/12/2003 10:21 AM
                                      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
                                      Cc:
                                      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] What's wrong with tracking estimates vs. actuals?

                                      Steven Gordon wrote:
                                      > I have worked on many projects in the past where the
                                      > elimination of labor was considered a significant benefit,
                                      > if not the greatest benefit of the resulting process and/or
                                      > product.
                                      >
                                      > Why would the elimination of unnecessary management labor not
                                      > be a benefit to a client? Maybe, the case needs to be made
                                      > further up the food chain?

                                      What will the client do with the managers whose "unnecessary management
                                      labor" will be eliminated? Or, more to the point, what do the affected
                                      managers *think* the client will do with them?

                                      If the particular client has a history of dealing with "unnecessary"
                                      positions by firing the persons therein, the affected managers are going
                                      to be *very* strongly motivated to make sure *their* positions are seen
                                      as "necessary".

                                      --
                                      Edmund Schweppe -- schweppe@... -- http://schweppe.home.tiac.net
                                      The opinions expressed herein are at best coincidentally related to
                                      those of any past, present or future employer.



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                                    • David J. Anderson
                                      Steve, You are defining what bad managers do - managers who don t know what management is and probably have never been trained as proper managers. For the
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
                                        Steve,

                                        You are defining what bad managers do - managers who
                                        don't know what management "is" and probably have
                                        never been trained as proper managers.

                                        For the rest of us good managers - we just tune you
                                        out :-)

                                        David


                                        --- Steven Gordon <sagordon@...> wrote:

                                        The main difference is whose position is being
                                        eliminated.

                                        <Rant mode on>

                                        It bothers me that projects which reduce how much
                                        labor it takes to do production will lead to
                                        reductions in force, but projects that reduce how much
                                        management is required just leads to managers with
                                        time on their hands.

                                        And managers with time on their hands leads to
                                        micromanagement activities like tracking estimates vs.
                                        actuals in a process where the metric is not highly
                                        correlated to success. Next, they will try to weigh
                                        the process down with collecting even more metrics
                                        that are not success factors, and start applying
                                        6-sigma optimizations on them. Will anybody notice
                                        that these measured metrics will improve, but actual
                                        productivity and true successes will decrease?
                                        Probably not, because they will define productivity
                                        and success in terms of the metrics they are
                                        collecting and analyzing.

                                        <Rant mode off>

                                        Sorry if I offended any managers here.



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