I'm a big fan of story points to gather relative estimates for stories. During task breakdowns I take a back seat answering any additional questions that might come up, however I have never seen the need for an additional estimation for tasks in hours.

Given the team have already provided estimates for the story as a whole in story points, what are the benefits of the team providing estimates for tasks in hours during the task breakdown?

2 Answers 2


Story points and ideal hours serve completely different purposes and are not comparable in any way.

Story Points

They are part of a double estimate. The capacity of a sprint is estimated in points ("How many stories of small size can we fit in these two weeks?"), and the stories are also estimated in points ("How does this story compare to this small one?").

Together, these two estimates are used to determine how many stories can be fit in the next iteration.

Ideal Hours

They are part of a single estimate. They estimate the amount of ideal hours left until the task is completed. Since this value changes constantly, these are estimates that are updated as work progresses and become more accurate in time. They are clearly 100% accurate when there's no work left and they are zero.

These are used to monitor the progress of a sprint with a sprint burndown chart.

  • Thanks for your feedback. If we were to use story points for the burndown chart, what value would the estimating in hours bring?
    – brakes
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 11:50
  • @brakes sorry, I misread your comment previously. Burning down points in a sprint is a bad idea, but the explanation would be a multi-comment behemoth. I'd happily answer a different question on the subject.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 9:04

In my life I have noticed that employee rarely ask question, technical or not to the project manager. If the project manager ask : "Do you have any questions?" He or she faces a wall of silence. Employees prefer to help themselves creating alliances and clans; it neutralize the project manager abilities to know what is going on and what his or her employees do; so the risk of going over budget is higher; it is a way to kick out the project manager. An alliance can be made with another manager that will replace the current one, rewarding after those who did the job. Or they do that just to have status quo. That process is in larger companies, for board meeting for example, and also in small project computer programming management team. It is a dysfunctional pattern because the goal is not the satisfaction of the customer first.

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