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Re: [scrumdevelopment] sizing the backlog

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  • Jukka Lindström
    Hi, I ve been advocating the use of this technique for some years now. We used it first two a couple of years back. It s quite simple, very powerful because it
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 24, 2008
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      Hi,

      I've been advocating the use of this technique for some years now. We used
      it first two a couple of years back. It's quite simple, very powerful
      because it emphasizes the relative estimation much more than basic planning
      poker.

      Here's how I've facilitated it to several teams:


      A) Before you start using the technique, you first create a the buckets
      with examples (a scale).

      For example just start with two items and ask which one of them is bigger,
      then add a third item and ask whether that is the same size, smaller, bigger
      or in between of those two items in size. We've used buckets in sizes of the
      Fibonacci sequence (just like planning poker cards). BTW when you do this
      exercise it is better if you have the items written on index cards and
      create the initial scale on a table - this way the items are easy to move
      and the scale is easy to create.

      When you have the buckets ready (usually 2-3 examples per bucket). It's
      time to create the physical buckets. I usually have printed out papers with
      a box within them which we can use in the backlog estimation meetings (part
      B). I have attached the template that I use to create the buckets.

      B) When estimating backlog items, bring the scale with you. Also print or
      write the items to be estimated on index cards. I really prefer to do this
      physically, because a very nice characteristic of index cards is that they
      are easy to move, sort and read.

      Then, one by one, assign each new item to a bucket based on the items and
      examples that already have been assigned into the same bucket. It's very
      easy and fast to do the comparison. ('Yea, I think it's about the same size
      as these...' or 'It's somewhat bigger then these, so let's put in the next
      bucket')

      Assigning to the buckets can be done quickly by just comparing and
      discussing OR you can do it with planning poker to facilitate also
      discussion about the size. Use the latter especially with new teams.

      After the estimation session (or couple of times during the session if it
      is a long one - say half-a-day or more) go through each of the buckets and
      see whether the items really are of the same size. If not, move the items
      that you think are bigger or smaller to the corresponding other bucket.


      Anyway the advantages of this in my opinion are:
      - it facilitates relative estimation better than planning poker (where you
      have to 'remember' what estimates you have been given)
      - it prevents the estimation inflation or deflation (because the examples
      don't move from bucket to bucket - with planning poker estimates sometimes
      inflate or deflate with time, because they are based more on your personal
      feel of the numbers and their sizes)
      - it's very fast

      Disadvantages:
      - items are sometimes not discussed as thoroughly. Especially if you do not
      use planning poker with the bucket estimation, might not discuss the
      differences in opinions about the item.

      Cheers,
      Jukka

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