Estimates & Time Budgets

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Estimates are key components for capacity planning and resource allocation. You can think of them in two ways:

  1. Real estimates of how much work you think an item will require to be completed.
  2. Time budgets for particular backlog items to reserve that capacity allowing you to decide at a later date exactly which features and scopes to commit to.  

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Estimate units

You can define estimates in: 

  • Story points
  • Time based (days, hours)

Entering an estimate will automatically format the value for the setting that you have specified in your plan (see Scheduling Settings). In addition, when using time formats, enter estimates in either days (i.e. 3d) or hours (i.e. 16h) and JIRA Portfolio will automatically convert the value to the format specified in the plan (i.e. 16h would be converted to an estimate of 2 days if the plan was set to estimate using days). 

Estimate types

You can specify estimates at three levels: 

  • The total estimate.
  • Stage-level estimate (e.g. 5 days of design, 20 days of implementation effort) - this is then per stage distributed based on the configured default allocation.
  • Skill-level estimates (e.g. for this item, I need 5 days of someone who can work on the web front end).

Total estimates

The easiest way to estimate a backlog item is by entering a total estimate number into the table column as opposed to entering individual estimates for each stage of work.

A total estimate is split into realistic capacities based on a configurable default allocation (see Configuring Stages and Skills).

The default Scrum Plan template configuration is shown below. There's a top level allocation between stages of work, such as design and implementation.  Stages can be made up of sets of skills that pertain to that stage.  If a stage has defined skills, then there is an allocation within that stage for those skills. Allocated skills will always adds up to 100%.  

Allocation for stages:

Allocation for skills:

Note: This feature guarantees that your plan is realistic even if you just enter rough estimate/budgets. Otherwise, the total capacity might be available, but in reality not every team member is capable of covering every type of work which may result in bottlenecks.

Estimates at the story level

The sum of estimates entered for child stories in an epic will be or replace the total estimate for that epic.  

Estimates at the stage and skill-level

You can also set estimates at the stage and skill levels to further refine allocation by specifying which skills and capacities are needed. 

In the screenshot below: story 1 has a total estimate, story 2 has stage-level estimates, and story 3 has most fine-grained skill-level estimates.

Last modified on Oct 16, 2014

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