Estimate effort for agile development

Once the product features have been sketched out, if falls to the project team to figure out what it will take to deliver them.

Effort estimates are almost always more accurate when they address small, discrete chunks of work. But you need to forecast effort for a large, complex undertaking. TeamForge helps bridge this gap by dynamically calculating effort estimates at multiple levels.

There are two ways to determine the effort involved in an artifact:

  • Break the work down into discrete chunks, then use your experience and judgment to come up with a real-world estimate for this artifact.
  • Have the effort estimates for all the artifact's children (if any) automatically added and shown in this artifact.

You will be using a combination of these techniques as you work through the estimating process.

Analyzing the work is an iterative, interactive process. As you go through it, you'll find your effort estimates changing shape in response to feedback from scoping the product and planning out the work.

  1. With your team, review the artifacts the product owner has created. How much effort will each one require? Do any of them require special skills or training? Record your observations about each artifact in its Comment field.
    Note: This is a rough cut. Don't try to come up with a final effort estimate yet.
  2. For each user story, identify the specific tasks that will be required. Create an artifact to contain each of these tasks. Declare each of these task artifacts a "child" of the initial artifact. Now you can attempt to estimate the work involved in each task artifact. This will be the raw material for your higher-level effort estimates and progress tracking.
  3. Back in the "parent" artifact, select Sum effort from children. Now this artifact's effort field shows the total of the effort units assigned to each of its "children."
    Note: If an artifact has children that belong to another project, the effort value for those child artifacts is not counted.
  4. As you proceed, you will find the overall picture taking on definition. Relationships among artifacts will emerge, and many of them will seem to fall into one one logical group or another. Let these groupings determine the names and purposes of your planning folders.
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