Saturday, 27 March 2010

Agile Estimating and Planning

by Mike Cohn
ISBN: 978-0131479418

I bought this book because I'm generally rubbish at estimating (I usually under estimate). Also, although we have the technical elements of agile (source control, unit tests, continuous integration, etc) sorted, my agile project management is not all it could be. Agile Estimating and Planning may be as close as I ever get to a silver bullet.

To be honest I expected to be let down and that the scenarios described in the book would not match the situations I find myself in. I was not let down at all. The book covers both planning when features are important and planning when a deadline is important.

It taught me that it was wrong to break stories into tasks when release planning and to leave that for iteration planning. The book discusses the use of both story points and ideal days in estimating, what they both are, the differences between them and then suggests you should use story points.

It described what release and iteration planning are and when to use them. It also discusses how to predict, where necessary, and how to measure velocity in order to calculate the duration of projects. One of the most important things covered from my point of view was how, when and with what to report to the product owner and stake holders.

The book finishes with a 60 page case study. I was tempted not to bother reading this as it goes over the main points covered in the rest of the book again. I was glad I read it and if you buy this book you should read the case study if you read nothing else. It helps put in context how estimating should be done and describes the processes surrounding it.

All I have to do now is write a distilled version for my team, including the project managers, product owners and stakeholder and put it into practice.

Friday, 19 March 2010