The web application development marketplace is flooded with projects in progress and several coming further. This often creates a hiccup within the product owners regarding project estimation. Currently, two types of Project Estimation practices are prevalent in the market: Story Points vs Hours. However, these approaches have their ups and downs. So, in this blog post, we have covered a detailed analysis of these two methods based on various aspects to help you decide if Story Points or Hours is the better option for your project development in 2023.
Humans have always been at the top tier among all the living beings on the planet. Even after tremendous technical enhancements and advancement, they still hustle over a puny estimation issue. Similarly, the Agile Project Estimation is problematic for the product and business owners. Product owners often confuse themselves with the two effective methods of project estimation, Story Points vs Hours, one of which is the traditional method of measuring the project in Hours or Time, and the other one is the brand-new method of Story Points Agile. However, before we move forward with the topic, let us clear ourselves with the fact that there are in total of Nine Agile Estimation Techniques, namely:
So, now that we are aware of our topic of today. Let us first recall our knowledge of the age-old debate of Jira Story Points vs Hours by reviewing the basics of both the Traditional Estimation and Story Point Estimation Methods.
When talking about the traditional estimation based on hours, the bottom-up approach works the job to help evaluate the near-exact estimate for the project. This approach requires in-depth assessment and considering every aspect of your project. Then the product owners answer the clients’ most dominant question, ‘How long will it take to complete the project?’
Though the question seems simple, the answer is a tad more complex as it depends on factors like the skills of the team involved in the project, their speed of work, the possibility of emergencies, and others. This helps the managers estimate the schedule for a specific project in the units of hours or days.
The agile estimation method adopts an opposite approach called a “top-down” approach. In this, the estimation is measured based on the project’s complexity or the efforts needed to complete it. This method of estimation is based on the principle of relativity.
For example, task A’s complexity level is decided concerning task B’s complexity level. Thus, to give a gross-level estimation to the client, the teams look into each aspect of the project relative to the other aspects. This investigation measures how hard one story is from the other and what efforts are needed for its successful completion.
Story Points are the unique aspect of Agile Software Development and are the abstract units for measuring the features or the requirements of the application; they are beneficial to calculate and present an estimate of the efforts needed to implement a Product Backlog Item or any other work completely. For Story Points, the team works to fully implement or assign them to the project based on its complexity, amount of work, risk, or uncertainty. The features or requirements are called user stories in Agile Software Development. These abstract units are often represented by arbitrary numbers such as:
These arbitrary units of measurement for user stories convey the team’s difficulty or complexity level. They also measure the efforts required to complete a specific story. As the scrum story points do not represent actual hours, it allows Scrum teams to think in an abstract manner which is supposed to lessen the burden and the stress inherent in the estimation process.
Now that we know the details of Story Points, it is crucial to know How we can estimate the Story Points, their benefits, and the common mistakes when using Story Points. The core of Story Points Estimation is based on three factors or components:
Risk, Complexity, and Repetition.
Now, that we are familiar with the components Let us have a look onto the Steps to estimate the Story Points:
Let us straightaway understand hours by flipping the scene that we saw above in the section: Why use story points over hours?
PM: We have to add this feature to one of the pages of the product. How long would it take?
Dev: About seven hours.
PM: How long would it take for the tests?
Tester: Two hours.
PM: Taking into consideration after-testing additions or omissions, let us then set the estimation at ten hours. Sounds good?
Dev, tester: Absolutely!
This is a very general and the most popular method of estimating user stories. One of the best aspects of this hours method is that it is very easy to understand. It also saves everyone from relying on rather arbitrary units of measurement to estimate the user stories.
Also, a Fibonacci-like sequence such as 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, often used in story points, can be easily used in hours. For example, project managers can easily estimate the user story in 1h, 2h, 4h, 1day, 2day, 4days, 8days, and many more.
Hence, the perception that Fibonacci-like sequence helps make quicker estimations is somewhat not true. The hours estimation too can be quicker and more precise using the same Fibonacci-like sequence.
The human mind is a wonderful thing. And, it is this wonderful tool that is partly responsible for all the mess that the story point estimation method often creates. Let us understand it in the simplest possible way.
Many times, employees tend to equate agile story points to hours. For example, when the team members attempt to convert story points to hours and say something of this sort, “Three story point = 15 hours “it obviously makes the very purpose of using the story points estimation method redundant.
In a typical scenario, two developers have agreed on the estimate of 3 story points for a specific feature of the product in spite of the fact that their individual estimations of time are surely different.
This exactly is the purpose of using the story points estimation method—to bring people on the same page in spite of differences in individual time estimations.
The moment conversion of story points to hours starts; team members no longer remain on this relatively equal platform.
Hence, when the employees and even top management want to give story points a certain number of hours, it unnecessarily brings the element of complexity in an otherwise simpler estimation process.
It is in this situation that the story points estimation method starts to harm rather than help. And, it is at this time, it is better to estimate user stories at hours or days than at story points.
Some other disadvantages of estimation in story points
Several product owners and even Software Development Companies prefer the Story Points approach of the Agile Methodology, and there are many reasons for that. Let us have a look at a few of them.
Story Point Estimation is crucial; hence, a few mistakes must be avoided for the most relevant estimation when implementing the Story Point Agile method.
Some companies choose story points as their preferred method of project estimation is the inherent human need to make an informed decision and be more in control of the entire process. And, how does choosing story points over hours make this happen?
Story points estimation method does comparisons between the completed and the running stories. The intention of this comparison is to let team members collaborate and communicate effectively. Let us understand it with a typical example of an estimation session which is a common scene in almost all companies.
A project manager needs to add a feature to one the pages of the product. Using the fibonacci agile points, the PM asks the developers to estimate. He gets 3, 5, 2, and 8.
PM to Dev A: Why did you estimate it at an 8?
Dev A: It needs to be added to multiple pages and not to just one
PM to Dev B: Why did you estimate it at just 2?
Dev B: Oh c’mon. It’s just one small feature. We have so many in this application. Not a big deal!
The first round of estimation allows the team to use their gut feelings and first impressions of the feature to be added. When there is a huge difference among them that gets reflected in these estimations, the second round of estimation talks about the justifications for the highest and the lowest score.
And after a thorough discussion with the team members, they all agree with the 3, a unit from the Fibonacci sequence that represents the task’s difficulty.
This is what the method of story point involves—collaboration and involvement of the whole team. This eventually makes the whole team responsible for the mammoth task of estimation.
Bacancy is a leader in Agile and Lean Software Development, and thus, the simple answer to Scrum Story Points vs Hours lies in Why Story Point is better than Hours? Let us explain that further, as we know that the wiser ones understand the effective working of both technologies and human minds. Similarly, being the industry leader in software development. At Bacancy, our team of experts includes a wide assortment of experience and skills in various arenas of software, hardware, and embedded development. Therefore, after years of our own experience, we have inferred that Story Points estimation is a sensible choice as it accommodates all types of experiences and skills to come to an effective estimation compared to Hours which is just a probable estimation without any proper study or assessment based on the needs and requirement of the project.
Further, another reason to involve the Story Point methodology at Bacancy is that we believe in the efficiency of our developers, who assess and evaluate the best possible solution for your product. This involves a decent margin for flexibility, and competent estimation as the person doing the work is responsible for providing a proper deadline for the project’s completion.
To understand this further, let us have a look at a few reasons Why Bacancy Technology prefers Story Points over the Hours approach:
We have this in our treasure chest on Story Points vs Hours. And being in the service sector has made us realize the real potential of Story Points and How they are better than the Hours approach. Still, certain projects depend on whether Story Points or Hours will be more fruitful for your web application development. Many business owners and product owners are inclined towards the Scrum Story Point method as they realize the real potential of this methodology. However, if you are also a product owner looking for a Software Development Company that can offer best-in-class product development and is flexible to meet your requirements and needs, you can Hire Software Developers from Bacancy, A Leader in Agile and Lean Software Development.
Story points are confusing and not suitable in all situations. They are not right to compare the speed of two different teams. Many times teams misuse story points to depict their performance.
Story points tend to be a unit of measurement to estimate the effort to undertake a backlog or any other task. Assigning point values to each base makes calculating the entire project effort calculation easy.
There is a familiarity with hours, unlike story points. You can easily estimate and compare, which is impossible with story points. Story points must be redone as the team changes, whereas hours are unaffected.
Each number in the Fibonacci series is the sum of the previous two. Scrum teams use this Fibonacci series to calculate the story points to estimate the relative effort for undertaking a particular task compared to previous tasks.
Often, we hear that “One Story Point = 8 Hours,” but the actual case is different; there is no exact metric that can tell the number of hours in Story Point.
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