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Effort estimation techniques

Most commonly, teams use hours/days, Story Points, or do not estimate at all. Some teams might use T-shirt sizing to plan the work in the near future.

There have been countless debates on the pros and cons of each, and now, with the new technique we named Time Points, we might spark some more.

Before you dive in, remember that the end game is to reach the flow.

Agile Tools will move toward predictive analytics, and breaking down your work is just the first step!

Now, breathe in.

In Agile Tools, Time Points, as well as all other estimations, are a property of a Value Item. Remember, we don’t move around Issues but Value Items ;-)

Agile Tools Edit Value Item panel
Image 1 - Estimating Value Item with Time Points technique

Time Points effort estimation

Time Points are Fibonacci-numbered ascending intervals.

Time Points effort estimation technique
Image 2 - Time Points effort estimation technique

Many teams successfully used this technique to break down work, not measure velocity.

It is a hybrid approach, and some may call this a heresy. Be open-minded and try different approaches.

If you are using Story Points now, and you’re translating the Fibonacci numbers to some arbitrary time in your head right now, then Time Points might be a good choice.

Time Intervals are rough estimates of working hours and days, not calendar ones.

You should strive to have your work broken down to have as many smaller Time Points estimated Value Items as possible. Find your sweet spot.

Time Points are not used for reporting but for the team itself to evaluate and break the complex work into smaller, more manageable chunks.

No Estimate

As the name implies, Value Items will not be estimated using any technique. No Estimate is the default for any Value Unit (product, project, service, …) created in Agile Tools.

The main narrative here is that estimates in (software) development are ingrained but ineffective. Estimates are seen as necessary despite being inherently inaccurate and leading to mistrust. Ultimately, they're viewed as wasting time and resources that could be better spent on actual work.

This "movement" encourages a more iterative approach with on-the-fly discovery instead of writing more extensive upfront requirement documents with many features needed to estimate upfront.


Of course, the most classical approach to estimation is the time we think the work will take to complete.

This technique or approach is a direct counterpose to the No Estimate.

Story Points

Story points are valuable since they facilitate communication and consensus among team members with varying degrees of expertise, enabling them to reach an estimate.

Instead of debating individual team members' time estimates, teams can efficiently compare the effort required for different user stories by stating that one user story requires approximately two or three times more effort than another.

Story points are entirely relative.

“Story points are estimates of effort as influenced by the ammount of work, complexity, risk and uncertainty.” -Mike Cohn

Some teams use a doubling sequence (1, 2, 4, 8, 16), others use (modified) Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13).

Story points are completely incomparable between the teams. You cannot and should not compare teams based on Story Points.

Story Points are categories; although they are numbers, you do not add, subtract, multiply, or do any math operations on them.

T-Shirt Sizes

This technique is just a variation of Story Points. Instead of numbers, you apply T-shirt sizes to your product backlog items.

You can choose between XS, S, M, L, and XL sizes in Agile Tools. Usually, three are more than enough.

New Value Unit detail page

An Overview tab is new and now the default, so you can quickly glance over the presented information about your project, product, or whatever type you select for the Value Unit.

A detail page for the ‘Hospitality Hub’ product (an example)
Image 3 - A detail page for the ‘Hospitality Hub’ product (an example)

The Settings tab now includes two expandable panels: General and Estimations.

Value Unit Settings tab - expanded General panel
Image 4 - Value Unit Settings tab - expanded General panel

Value Unit Settings tab - expanded Estimations panel
Image 5 - Value Unit Settings tab - expanded Estimations panel

You can change the estimation technique at any time. The values for each method are stored separately, so they are preserved when switching between them. (Not that you would do this often.)

Email notifications

Two simple email notifications will notify you of the approaching end of the OKR period—one for the owners of OKRs and one for the Key Result caretakers.

They serve as a reminder to wrap up the OKR period with a review and the beginning of a new one.

Messages will start arriving in July.

What is coming next?

You will be able to create an Acceptance Criteria checklist for every Value Item.

We will deliver a configurable form for creating/editing Value Items, hiding the Doer field by default to further support the pull nature of agile work management. Remember, everyone can configure their views.

Due Date field will be introduced.

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