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Project Estimation: Mapping Complexity and Size

Complexity in project estimation can be important. Yet, many project managers seem to ignore this fact from what I have seen.
I’ve been reading up on relative methods to get estimates for projects.
Planning Poker has been a great way to get people working together, to think about the whole project and how their work fits into the bigger picture. Many “ah ha!” moments have been created by the process. My team members were able to experience many “ah ha!” moments when someone was unfamiliar with a component or work area. Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes can be very helpful.
I suggest that teams who are new to these processes focus on pseudo-relative (meaning mostly absolute) sizing estimates as this is what they are used to being asked for. Next is? Talking in relative terms about complexity or size in a way that we can calibrate and makes sense to the team.
I’m going to try something different and see how it goes.
First, Planning Poker
We will first? We will play planning poker and evaluate the relative complexity of the stories that we are estimating. As the basis for our discussions, we will choose a story that everyone is familiar with and discuss it.
There are many resources that can help you learn more about planning poker.
Next, Relative Effort Mapping
You will stick with the story point estimate from normal planning poker sessions. I would like to validate relative maps using a visual tool that is shared with the team.
What is this fancy tool?
A whiteboard and some post it notes. I’m a sophisticated …? expert. Just like I do Kanban.

Each story will be noted on a post-it note. To avoid unconscious grouping tendencies, use the same colors. Draw a 2-axis graph on the whiteboard with complexity on the (X)-axis and size at the (Y). After having completed the planning poker session, review each story and place the calibration story in its center.
It’s really simple. Unnecessary?? Perhaps.
It would be a pleasure to try it out and see if it provides any new insights or enhances the understanding of the work done by the team. I hope to find interesting discrepancies in the results of planning poker and how the stories on the matrix are related in size and complexity. Discrepancies are a great way to discover new insights and to test further. If I find no significant or consistent discrepancies over time, I will likely discontinue the practice as this would indicate a lack in efficacy.

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