Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can't negotiate size... and a good thing too

In many companies the Business Analyst or the Project Manager “estimate” the project and bind developers on the project to that estimate. This is an absolutely brutal thing to do to your project. But even within agile teams where the developers estimate, the Business Analysts or Project Managers sometimes tend to challenge and negotiate developer estimates. Not because they don’t trust the developers but merely out of selfishness. Because it gives a tremendous kick to deliver something that a client wants faster.

Now if the team is “estimating” in a “time based” unit such negotiations make some sense. Because a developer might say “Well I’ll take 3 days to do it but developer X is really good at XML so he can probably do it in 2 days”. And that might help given that you can assign the task to developer X (who in all probability is good a everything).

Another way of doing this is for the team to “size” user stories based on relative complexity. Here’s how it works.

As a developer on the team you are only classifying the stories into buckets of high, medium or low complexity. Nothing you can do is going to change the complexity of a given story.

As an analyst or project manager on the team please don’t ask developers questions like “Are you sure this is a 4-pointer?” The only one who can simplify stories is you.

Something Faster is better than Everything Later.
Everything Faster doesn’t exist

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