Agile Team Estimation Workshop

I was recently asked about the initial steps in an Agile project, building the architecturally significant pieces, planning and roadmapping, and I thought I’d post a quick “Thumbnail Sketch” of a workshop I led last year to get a large project started on the right foot.

The process below essentially walks through the process at a high level but gives enough detail to get someone started. I use terms like “Epic” “Feature”, and “User Story” but do not define them below. I also talk about “Reference Sets”, “Relative Estimation”, “Planning Poker”, and “Anchors”. Much of this work comes from Mike Cohn, Alistair Cockburn (among others) and has been adapted to meet our needs. I would be happy to discuss these areas in more detail in a later post or by email.

The outcome of this workshop yields:

  1. User Stories derived from high level features or epics (titles and basic detail only)
  2. A Walking Skeleton consisting of architecturally significant, and business critical features
  3. A prioritized backlog of all stories currently in the project
  4. A reference set of stories used to estimate from
  5. Relative estimates for each of the stories in story points (or NUTs, or whatever relative unit you prefer)

The outcome of this workshop is the INPUT to your Release Plan and Roadmap. This workshop does not describe that process. This workshop step would happen during Iteration ZERO. I will follow this blog post with a picture and description of Iteration -1 and Iteration 0.

The pictures depicts (for us) a large conference room table with different color/size notecards used to make collaboration easier. Visually and practically this is a great choice because it lets your team survey the table (project) as a whole, move cards around easily, add cards quickly, etc. Please click the picture for full view (and so you can read the detail!)

Step 1: Initial Prioritization

Step 2: Story Brainstorming

Step 3: Walking Skeleton

Step 4: Walking Skeleton

Step 5: Grouping & Leveling

Step 6: Reference Set

Step 7: Estimation

One thought on “Agile Team Estimation Workshop

  1. OMG, That was Awesome. I am a scrum master of my team and my P.O. is having his first estimation workshop. I think this will really help.

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