Advanced Discussion of StoryPoints for Project Management
We know that StoryPoints are "a relative measure of size that can be applied to Stories and Epics." Beyond this simple statement there is not much about StoryPoints that we can all agree on - teams and organizations are free to estimate and use StoryPoints as they see fit. Well, I want to use them to aid in Project (not Sprint) Management, and in this talk I present a way to define StoryPoints for this purpose. Come and hear words like "Ideal Effort", "Intrinsic Difficulty", "Function Points", and "Earned Value", and how StoryPoints become the basic currency for Release budgeting and metrics.
Many Scrum/XP Teams are using StoryPoints to size their Stories, and they are using StoryPoints to be a relative measure of “actual effort”. This is a horrible mistake if you also want to use the StoryPoints to help manage a Project, and has led to many issues, including:
- The “my StoryPoint is not your StoryPoint” mantra that many people have, which just gives up on the notion of normalizing StoryPoints across Teams; and
- The “we need to resize our Stories constantly” issue, which leads to consternation on the part of Project Managers.
One of the biggest issues, called the “grandmother of all issues” by Ken Schwaber, is that the creation of technical debt will gobble up our projects. By using StoryPoints as a surrogate for actual effort, I see many projects resize things constantly in order to account for the additional effort needed to produce the same Scope. This confusion of Size and Effort is a serious killer of projects.
The Project Management discipline has struggled with the differences between Size (used to manage Scope) and Effort (used to manage Cost) for decades, resulting in discussions about Earned Value, Function Points, and so on. This is a difficult problem. In my opinion, Scrum (with its incremental development) actually makes it easier to solve this problem.
This is what the talk is about.