I am really struggling with this and could use some help here. Situation: new scope of work of application development that will be executed using Agile. Contract has EV requirement. I am not an Agile knowledgeable person at all but have a lot of experience with EV. Reading some information about doing EV with Agile, it appears I need to know the total number of user stories in advance so I can assign a PV to represent the average user story. However, my agile team is telling me that they won't know the total number of user stories in advance. It can be 20; 50; 1,000!

How is this supposed to work?

  • Is there a backlog of all the stories that you know today? If so the team can go through and try to assign point estimates.
    – aqwert
    Mar 27, 2017 at 21:27
  • No, @aqwert, no backlog at this stage. All new work. Mar 28, 2017 at 16:45
  • New work can still have a backlog. I am not sure how anyone can comeup with an estimate even a ballpark one without the problem being broken down into meaningful chunks. Perhaps sit down with the buisness owner (or product owner) and have a design / discovery session with the team to at least see if stories can be created, even at a highlevel epic might start to narrow down a more acurate estimate
    – aqwert
    Mar 28, 2017 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Edit: More reading on Wikipedia has thrown up this sentence that is so important I'm putting it at the top. Again, it supports my first impression of using agile and EV:

Because EVM requires quantification of a project plan, it is often perceived to be inapplicable to discovery-driven or Agile software development projects

Original post follows:

One of the fundamentals of agile is that you don't define the whole project at the start; you define and clarify it as you go along, which means the requirements are more up-to-date when they're needed and the project owner has the flexibility to change what is most beneficial to the project. Defining all the requirements up-front in such detail you can count every single story is exactly what agile tries to get us away from.

I've not calculated EV with agile before (because in and of itself it seems a little difficult to combine the two), but having a quick read on Wikipedia, it highlights what I thought:

Agile embraces change and therefore scope is considered variable (i.e. not fixed). Instead of using the INITIAL estimate in total number of Story Points, in Agile EVM calculations always the LATEST estimate in total number of Story Points is used to calculate CPI, SPI, EAC, etc.

So, as @aqwert mentioned above, you will most likely need to start listing your epics and themes, breaking them down as much as possible to get an estimate of stories which you can then start using to calculate. This still feels wrong to me: defining as many items as you can up-front in agile. My gut feeling is that whoever wanted to use agile but also want up-to-date EV from the beginning of the project doesn't understand one of those two (in the nicest possible way).

The last thing I'd say is that you won't know how much EV goes towards a story or story-point until you've been on the project for long enough to learn this. Each team has different velocities and effort for each story point, so you will need to update as you go and as you learn. Once you have a good understanding of velocity and correlation between stories and EV, the more accurate your future calculations will be in the future.

Good luck and thanks for all your input on this SE network; you insight has helped me a lot over the years.

  • Thanks for this! And the kind words in your last paragraph! Mar 29, 2017 at 20:33

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