Agile QuickTip: Using Multiple Choice Estimates
If you ever find that estimating tasks during sprint planning is painful and argumentative then multiple choice estimates might really help with your team’s planning.
Most scrum teams follow a similar path during sprint planning. Team members will break user stories or backlog items down into individual implementation tasks or sub-tasks. Often, they will estimate these tasks in hours to get more detail into how long they they might take to complete. Often this will result in arguments amongst team members causing planning meetings to devolve into something far more contentious and painful than we had hoped.
A better alternative might be to use multiple choice options when estimating these tasks. For example, a task can be categorized as:
- A) Less than a day
B) Less than 4 hours
C) Less than 2 hours
In this way, each task only has 3 estimation options A, B or C.
Top tip: If a task is greater than a day, then have that team break it down into a smaller task, and then use multiple choice options to estimate the smaller task as ‘less than a day’, ‘less than 4 hours’ or ‘less than 2 hours’.
By applying this multiple choice estimation consistently at all your sprint planning meetings, estimation begins to happen quickly, reducing the amount of arguments while retaining the same level of accuracy.
I hope you enjoyed this Agile QuickTip, and I look forward to hearing how it worked in practice when you implemented it in your next sprint planning. Be sure to check out the rest of the series, and leave a comment or send me a message to let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see next. You can also head to Thinklouder.com to see how our training and coaching offerings can help both you, and your team.