Why story points make no sense for a product company

T-shirt sizing. Fruit Sizing. Planning pokers. You might be familiar with any or all of these estimation (relative sizing) techniques. Story points based estimations (along with velocity mapping) is touted as a predictable method to plan for software delivery. Teams are expected to get a good sense of the effort needed to deliver a piece of work by comparing estimates with references of similarly complex work they have delivered in the past.

The accuracy of point based estimates fares more or less in the same range as sheer gut feel. So, the natural inclination for software teams is to try and make it more accurate than gut feel. Thereby, we obsess with breaking functionality into smaller byte sized stories. We freak out when there is "scope creep". We debate endlessly about ideal days vs. person days. We fuss over the specific visual representation for the burn-up or burn-down.

Does it matter anymore how many days the team spent chipping hard at a feature that added no value to the business? Have we made agile teams into mini waterfall teams by focussing on the wrong metrics? Can product companies afford this?

Process heaviness in product companies can cost a lot. We need to find better ways to invest in success metrics. We need to change the conversation from productivity to value add.

My talk intends to challenge prevalent estimation practices and contest their validity in product companies. I will also introduce ideas around capturing relevant business metrics and sizing stories using business value.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

Introduction to estimation

Problems with estimates

Product dynamics and agility

Eliminating wasteful processes

What metrics to track in Product companies?

How to track value?

Summary & Close

Learning Outcome

Limitations of story points and how to change the narrative to business value. Understand how to measure business value, and track metrics that matter the most.

Target Audience

Product Managers, Developers, Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners

Prerequisite

Familiarity with Agile concepts

Stories, and estimation techniques

Project tracking /planning experience is a nice to have

schedule Submitted 9 months ago

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  • Lekha Susan
    By Lekha Susan  ~  7 months ago
    reply Reply

    I did have my own doubts about story points and how they would really transform into a business need. Interesting topic.

    • Mangalam Nandakumar
      By Mangalam Nandakumar  ~  7 months ago
      reply Reply

      Glad you find it interesting! It's time to start challenging established norms. Join the club :)


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