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Importance of story points for estimation in software development

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A story point is a relative unit of measure decided upon and used by individual scrum teams to provide relative estimates of effort for completing requirements.

Story points are intended to make team estimating easier. Story points show the relative effort to complete work on different product backlog items. It is an indication of how much work the team as a whole can get done.

There are multiple good reasons to estimate product backlog items in story points.

Invites collaboration as team behaviour becomes prominent over individuals
Using planning poker to estimate story points brings team together. It acts as a team building activity as teams share, constructively criticize each other, debate, have fun and come to consensus on the estimates.

Story points estimation is typically faster
Teams who estimate in days have a tendency to take discussion few levels deep. Once again fear of commitment plays a role here because you are estimating in days. Research has shown that story point estimation cuts estimation time by 80% allowing teams to do other productive project activities.

Focuses client conversation on the right questions
Communicating with the client tends to be easier more honest when using ‘points’ rather than days. This is because points allows us to separate the two concepts of how much work is to be done vs. how long it takes to do that work. When a team presents its estimates in terms of (days) it is easy to miscommunicate about how that effort maps onto calendar days.

When the team instead talks in terms of points, it is immediately obvious to all that a conversion must take place again, using the team’s velocity in order to figure out how much work can be done.

Story points allays fear of commitment
Hence developers are much at ease (less stress) while estimating. When people are under stress, they think more rationally and hence better estimates. Because when you estimate in days, since days means elapsed time, fear of whether “I can finish in this time” starts creeping in.

In conclusion, using story points for estimation in software development keeps planning honest and important for iteration planning team can go for days or hours as requirements are more clear. From www.trendpro.co.ke

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