Yes, like all Scrum teams we have a ‘dirty little secret’.

Our secret is we don’t use Story Points.( Queue –  Ken Schwaber running screaming from the building) I’m keen to right this wrong so have been delving in to the world of Story Points;

What are they and why are they important?

I was under the complete misunderstanding that Story Points are a measure of time. I have a industry training in Project Management with Gantt Charts, Network diagrams and Critical Paths.

The abstraction of time to plan capacity for a project seems completely alien to me.  I read, listened and watched videos on the subject and suddenly realised that the concept is quite liberating. Simply put:

“A Story Point is a measure of how difficult a task is”

Many Scrum teams use Small, Medium, Large and Xtra Large to classify the size of projects and Mike Cohn talks about estimating using distance as a concept. A quick job is near, whilst a difficult or complex job is far away.

I will be pursuing Story Points in a simple 1 (Easy task) – 10 (Difficult task) range. There is the added impetus that very shortly we will be using the MS Agile 5.0 templates in TFS and these strongly support the use of User Stories and Points.

I’m looking forward to liberating the team from worries about being locked down to deadlines or having no clue how long a User Story will take. We should rapidly reach a point, after 2 or 3 iterations where we know how many story points we can accept in to a Sprint. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Mike Cohn on Story Points (short video):

Mike Cohn on Story Points (text):
http://blog.mountaingoatsoftware.com/should-companies-measure-productivity-in-story-points-ideal-days

Brief discussion on the use of Story Points :
http://www.infoq.com/news/2010/03/story-points

Long discussion on the Scrum Alliance Group website, on the relative merits of Story Points:
http://groups.google.com/group/scrumalliance/browse_thread/thread/955dc287638e69f5

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