Estimate in story points
- Plan for the team
- Customize the team board
- Estimate in story points
- Analyze team reports
- Optimize future plans
There's a huge variety of ways to estimate stories, but the objective of every approach is to be able to get better at predicting how much work the team can do each sprint. In agile scrum, this translates to knowing the team's velocity.
Velocity measures the number of 'estimation units' that a team usually completes from sprint to sprint. It is effectively a productivity rate based on an estimation of volume of work, and it is best worked out in a measure other than 'time'.
A: It is much more useful in the long term to roughly predict how much work your team can do each sprint, than it is to try to estimate how long each story will take in time.
Story points enable the team to estimate stories in comparison to other stories, instead of forcing them to determine the time it will take to complete each story. Velocity is then worked out based on how many points the team can complete in each sprint. After a few sprints, team velocity stabilizes and estimation accuracy increases (or rather the same degree of inaccuracy is applied).
The problem with using hours to estimate is that the team is likely to estimate using the 'working hours' of the sprint (with some buffer time) and this is almost never an accurate reflection of a story's complexity or size. Accurate velocity is difficult to establish when stories are estimated in isolation, instead of by comparison.
Estimation, time and velocity are really critical things to understand. Read more in the Estimating an issue topic.
Estimate in points, track in time
Even when you estimate in story points, you can still track in time if you want. Knowing the team velocity (regardless of the measure used) enables you to roughly guess how long estimated backlog items will take to complete.
But JIRA Software does also have a couple of dedicated fields (Remaining Estimate and Time Spent) to track time while using story points.
NOTE: You need to be a board admin to make any configuration changes to a board. If you created the board, then you're already the admin.
Go to Board > Configure > Estimation.
- Select the Estimation Statistic (unit of estimation) - choose from story points, original time estimate, and issue count.
- Switch on the Remaining Estimate and Time Spent option to get a more accurate picture of how things are tracking in time units.
- If you leave Time Tracking as None, you can still refer to reports such as the Burndown chart to monitor progress.
Find out more about how time tracking work in projects in the configuring estimation and tracking topic.
The goal of velocity is to be able to look at a backlog of not particularly well-understood stories, and guess how many sprints it will take to complete. It requires a similar level of uncertainty for all of the estimates in the backlog. Determining accurate velocity relies on the equality of the inaccuracy, which is why you should NEVER re-estimate issues after a sprint has started.
In your dummy project, go to Board > Configure > Estimate page and change the Estimation statistic to one of the following:
- Story points
- Original time
- Issue count
Note the differences when you create and estimate an issue.