As with my previous post a quick question to the Scrum mailing list goes a long way. My original question:
After reading the Ken’s first scrum book and some of Mike Cohn’s Agile Estimation book – I’m a little confused as to when the team should estimate the product backlog. It seems clear that during the sprint planning meeting we should look at the product backlog and choose the stories that we will work with the Product Owner. Once we’ve selected the stories, we will break them down into tasks and estimate the number of hours involved etc.
But this begs the question when do we estimate the initial product backlog?
When new stories are added to the backlog do we estimate them as they’re added or do we wait until there is a batch?
I was concerned if we estimated stories one off that it would take up alot the team’s time and we wouldn’t do a good job of getting the relative sizes right. I got a number of responses. Several people recommended estimating as them as the PM created them. Others even included some buffer time in Sprint just for this purpose. However Mike Cohn (author of Agile Estimating and Planning) made the suggestions that seem to make the most sense.
- Estimate them at the project start – that works well except when you introduce Sprint to an existing project.
- A few days before the start of the next sprint estimate any newly arrived tasks. Taking all of 5-10 minutes to do this.
Thanks to Mike Cohn, Hubert Smits and David H for filling in the details for me.
Mark Levison has been helping Scrum teams and organizations with Agile, Scrum and Kanban style approaches since 2001. From certified scrum master training to custom Agile courses, he has helped well over 8,000 individuals, earning him respect and top rated reviews as one of the pioneers within the industry, as well as a raft of certifications from the ScrumAlliance. Mark has been a speaker at various Agile Conferences for more than 20 years, and is a published Scrum author with eBooks as well as articles on InfoQ.com, ScrumAlliance.org an AgileAlliance.org.