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

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  • 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 1 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
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      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 2 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
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        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 3 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
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          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 4 of 20 , Oct 5, 2003
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            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 5 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
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              --- 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 6 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
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                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/

                __________________________________
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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 7 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
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                  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/
                  >
                  >__________________________________
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                  >
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                • 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 8 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
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                    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
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                  • 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 9 of 20 , Oct 6, 2003
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                      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 10 of 20 , Oct 10, 2003
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                        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 11 of 20 , Oct 11, 2003
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                          --- 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/

                          __________________________________
                          Do you Yahoo!?
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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 12 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
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                            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 13 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
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                              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 14 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
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                                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 15 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  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 16 of 20 , Oct 12, 2003
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                                    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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