Our team breaks down user stories in sub-tasks, then estimate their sizes in hours using the planning poker technique. The numbers we use are 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32 and it goes just like story points estimation using the Fibonacci sequence.

Are there techniques/games exclusive to hours estimation?

2 Answers 2


There are many "games" (strategies) to make estimation, One that I like is:

  • Order all tasks by estimated time (historical tasks might be helpful here)
  • Any new task can be introduced "more easily" by looking at similar tasks in the current list and then it would make it easier to know the time it would take and how it affects the project

This was shown by the authors of Managing the Unmanageable when we requested a work-shop from them to improve our processes. I think they might have further suggestions in their website ;).

  • It doesn't make much sense to me to "Order all tasks by estimated time" as first step, since this is actually what I want to achieve. I will check out the book, thanks! Jul 26, 2018 at 12:37

Beside planning poker, 1 of the other estimation techniques we used in our team is 3-Point estimation technique, which is well known in project management world, specially while estimating the activities.

Like Planning poker game, this 3 point estimation can be done like below

  1. we can invite the project development team into room

  2. product owner explains the user stories and sub-tasks or activities to be done to complete the user stories.

  3. each team member provide his/her 3-point estimate (Optimistic, Most likely and Pessimistic) for each sub-task

  4. scrum master then make a note of these estimates and facilitates its display on visual/drawing boards
  5. team discuss the estimates and agreed to final estimates after further discussion

After team agreed on what is right Optimistic, Most likely and Pessimistic estimations are, triangular distribution formula can be used for activity/sub-task estimation as follows,

tE = (tO + tM + tP)/3, where tO = Optimistic , tM = Most likely , tP = Pessimistic estimate, on which team had a consensus.

This is bit harder than planning poker, but also gave us more accurate estimates too.

We found it useful to use when not much historical data is available for similar user stories.

  • That calculation is a bit off; most PM qualifications reference PERT. tutorialspoint.com/management_concepts/… Jul 29, 2018 at 9:53
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    @Venture2099 the calculation is correct. There are 2 types of distribution. 1. Triangular distribution for which above formula is correct and 2. beta distribution for which tE = (tO + 4*tM + tP)/6 is used. Jul 29, 2018 at 10:18
  • 1
    Today I Learned. Jul 29, 2018 at 11:11

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