Configuring Estimation and Tracking

(info) This page only applies to Scrum boards.

About Estimation and Tracking

Many Scrum teams separate estimation (which is used for measuring the size of a backlog and calculating velocity) from tracking (which is often the burndown of hours used during the Sprint to be sure we're not way off the pace necessary to complete the stories in the Sprint timebox), and use different units for each. A common approach is to estimate tasks in Story Points, then track tasks using hours. JIRA Agile therefore gives you the flexibility to set your estimation and tracking statistics differently, depending on what best suits your team.

Product teams often need to be able to estimate how long a product will take to deliver. This is tough because the backlog may stretch many months into the future, so the team can only provide a very rough estimate in conditions of uncertainty without wasting days breaking the work down. However, from sprint to sprint as they work through the stories the team will develop a cadence of completing <x> units of work they had 'rough estimated', i.e. their velocity. This means that they can relatively accurately estimate how long portions of the backlog will take to get done with simple rough estimates that the team can produce way before they even consider doing them. However, to make this work the team needs to estimate stories with a consistent level of uncertainty. The team also needs to track the amount of estimation units they have actually fully completed from sprint to sprint because this number is the one that tells us with relative certainty how much we can fit into each future sprint and have conviction that they will all be completed.

Choose your own Estimation Statistic and Tracking Statistic

In JIRA Agile, you can choose which type of units (e.g. Story Points, Issue Count) will be used for estimating and tracking issues. You do this by choosing an Estimation Statistic, then choosing to either use the same units for your Tracking Statistic or to use time-tracking. Each board can have a different type of Estimation Statistic and Tracking Statistic.

  • The type of Estimation Statistic you select affects which units are used by the 'Estimate' field, which appears at the right of each issue in the Backlog: (Note that the 'Estimate' field is editable when an issue is in the Backlog, but not editable once the issue moves into the Active sprints.)
  • The type of Tracking Statistic you select affects which units are used by the 'Remaining' field, which appears at the bottom right of each issue in the Active sprints/Kanban board:
View your Velocity and Burndown

A team's velocity is based on the Estimation Statistic — ie. for each sprint, the velocity is the sum of the Estimation Statistic for completed stories. Velocity is shown in the Velocity Chart and also on the Sprint Report, in the Estimate Statistic column header of the "Completed Issues" table (e.g. "Story Points (12)" means that 12 Story Points were completed in that sprint). Please note that the values for each issue are recorded at the time when the issue moves into the sprint. Changing the Estimate value afterwards will not be reflected in the Sprint Report, but will be shown as scope change in the burndown. Velocity is also used in the Version Report, to predict Release Dates.

The Sprint Burndown Chart is based on the Tracking Statistic. If you are using Story Points as your Tracking Statistic, then the Burndown Chart shows the Story Points per story (ie. stories burning down the Estimate Statistic are only burnt down on the graph as they are completed); whereas if you choose the Time-tracking option you are shown partial burndown (ie. the number of hours currently used and remaining each day).

Setting the Estimation Statistic

To set the Estimation Statistic for a board:

  1. Navigate to the desired board, then click Board > Configure.

    (info) Note that only the administrator of a board (or a person with the 'JIRA Administrators' global permission) can configure a board.
  2. Click the Estimation tab.
  3. In the Estimation Statistic field, choose one of the following options:

    Estimation Statistic:

    Explanation:

    Story Points

    Estimation will be based on the number of Story Points per issue. This is the most commonly used option.

    ((info) Note that, by default, the Story Points field is only available to issues of type 'Story' or 'Epic' — you can change this as described in JIRA Agile - JIRA Configuration.)

    Business Value

    Estimation will be based on the Business Value of each issue.

    Original Estimate

    Estimation will be based on the JIRA 'Original Estimate' field (for details see the JIRA documentation Logging Work on an Issue). By default this is specified in minutes, but it can be hours/days/weeks depending on your JIRA system configuration (for details see the JIRA Time Tracking documentation).

    Issue Count Estimation will be based on the number of issues in the sprint. The 'Estimate' field will not be editable.
    <Custom Field> Estimation can be based on any numeric custom field in your JIRA system.

Screenshot: the 'Estimation' tab (click to enlarge)

Enabling Time Tracking

If you enable time tracking, you will be able to view the remaining time estimate for an issue (and its sub-tasks), when viewing an issue.

To set the Tracking Statistic for a board:

  1. Navigate to the desired board, then click Board > Configure.
  2. Click the Estimation tab.
  3. In the Time Tracking field, choose one of the following options:

    Tracking Statistic:

    Explanation:

    None

    Tracking will be based on the Estimation Statistic.

    Remaining Estimate and Time Spent

    Tracking will be based on the JIRA 'Remaining Estimate' and 'Time Spent' fields (for details see the JIRA documentation Logging Work on an Issue). By default these fields are specified in minutes, but you can use hours/days/weeks depending on your JIRA system configuration (for details see the JIRA Time Tracking documentation).

    Note that this is fundamentally different from using the Estimation Statistic for burndown in that values do not burn down when an issue is completed — instead, values only burn down when users enter Time Spent or set the Remaining Estimate to a new value.

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