Mathias Holmgren

Bucket Estimation – How to estimate a really large backlog

So you have a LARGE backlog and you have decided that you need to estimate it.

Not on board? Still undecided? Go read my previous post on the tradeoffs between estimating and not estimating large backlogs.

Still reading? Ok, let’s get to it!

You can do larger scale estimation in MANY ways. What I will share with you here is just one way I have found to do it effectively, with enough accuracy at a reasonable cost. It requires some pre-conditions, such as having a team with an established way of working and some way of estimating on the team level, so it may not fit your situation. But if it does it is probably worth your time to check out.

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Large Backlog – To estimate or not, that is the question!

Estimation seems to have gotten a bit of a bad reputation lately.

One misconception I sometimes see is that estimation beyond just a few weeks is “not agile”. Another trend is that some people advocate against doing estimation at all mostly because they view it as a beginner tool, so by not estimating we are no longer beginners.

To me doing estimation or not does not really say much about “how agile you are”. The way I look at it is that we should estimate when the reasons to do so outweigh the reasons not to do so. That simple.

In some scenarios this also includes doing estimation of large backlogs.

So in this article I want to share what I see as some of the reasons FOR and AGAINST doing estimation of a larger backlog. You can then decide for yourself if your situation justifies doing it or not.

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Agile Coach to Team Relationship

The role or function of an agile coach can be be a bit of a challenge to wrap your head around if it is new to you. Depending on your situation and on agreements with people in your organization, an agile coach could work with a wide range of responsibilities. It could be working closely with a team to improving aspects of the whole organization.

When it comes to coaching a team it can be confusing for team members what type of relationship is natural for them to have with an agile coach. What’s in it for us? What is required from us to get something out of this?

Some basic things are needed to establish a good foundation for such a relationship. Getting some of them out in the open can help. To clarify what this foundation can look like I created this image a few years ago. It is meant to be used as a starting point for a conversation or negotiation between coach and team.

If you are a coach yourself I hope it can help you explain to your team what type of relationship you can offer them. If you are a member of an agile team I hope it makes it easier to understand what an agile coach can do for you, what it will mean for you to have such a relationship and what you can expect from it.

If you prefer an easy to print document, here is a pdf-version – My Role as Coach (pdf).