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Agile Estimating and Planning, 1st edition

  • Mike Cohn

Published by Prentice Hall (November 1st 2005) - Copyright © 2006

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Agile Estimating and Planning

ISBN-13: 9780132799058

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Praise for Agile Estimating and Planning

"Traditional, deterministic approaches to planning and estimating simply don't cut it on the slippery slopes of today's dynamic, change-driven projects. Mike Cohn's breakthrough book gives us not only the philosophy, but also the guidelines and a proven set of tools that we need to succeed in planning, estimating, and scheduling projects with a high uncertainty factor. At the same time, the author never loses sight of the need to deliver business value to the customer each step of the way."

—Doug DeCarlo, author of eXtreme Project Management: Using Leadership, Principles and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility (Jossey-Bass, 2004)

"We know how to build predictive plans and manage them. But building plans that only estimate the future and then embrace change, challenge most of our training and skills. In Agile Estimating and Planning, Mike Cohn once again fills a hole in the Agile practices, this time by showing us a workable approach to Agile estimating and planning. Mike delves into the nooks and crannies of the subject and anticipates many of the questions and nuances of this topic. Students of Agile processes will recognize that this book is truly about agility, bridging many of the practices between Scrum and ExtremeProgramming."

—Ken Schwaber, Scrum evangelist, Agile Alliance cofounder, and signatory to the Agile Manifesto

"In Agile Estimating and Planning, Mike Cohn has, for the first time, brought together most everything that the Agile community has learned about the subject. The book is clear, well organized, and a pleasant and valuable read. It goes into all the necessary detail, and at the same time keeps the reader's burden low. We can dig in as deeply as we need to, without too much detail before we need it. The book really brings together everything we have learned about Agile estimation and planning over the past decade. It will serve its readers well."

—Ron Jeffries, www.XProgramming.com, author of Extreme Programming Installed (Addison-Wesley, 2001) and Extreme Programming Adventures in C# (Microsoft Press, 2004)

"Agile Estimating and Planning provides a view of planning that's balanced between theory and practice, and it is supported by enough concrete experiences to lend it credibility. I particularly like the quote 'planning is a quest for value.' It points to a new, more positive attitude toward planning that goes beyond the 'necessary evil' view that I sometimes hold."

—Kent Beck, author of Extreme Programming Explained, Second Edition (Addison-Wesley, 2005)

"Up-front planning is still the most critical part of software development. Agile software development requires Agile planning techniques. This book shows you how to employ Agile planning in a succinct, practical, and easy-to-follow manner."

—Adam Rogers, Ultimate Software

"Mike does a great follow-up to User Stories Applied by continuing to provide Agile teams with the practical approaches and techniques to increase agility. In this book, Mike provides time-proven and well-tested methods for being successful with the multiple levels of planning and estimating required by Agile. This book is the first to detail the disciplines of Agile estimating and planning, in ways that rival my 1980 civil engineering texts on CPM Planning and Estimating."

—Ryan Martens, President and Founder, Rally Software Development Corporation

"With insight and clarity, Mike Cohn shows how to effectively produce software of high business value. With Agile estimation and planning, you focus effort where it really counts, and continue to do so as circumstances change."

—Rick Mugridge, Rimu Research Ltd., and lead author, Fit for Developing Softwa

Table of contents

About the Author xvii

Foreword by Robert C. Martin xix

Foreword by Jim Highsmith xxi

Foreword by Gabrielle Benefield xxv

Acknowledgments xxvii

Introduction xxix

Part I: The Problem and the Goal 1

Chapter 1: The Purpose of Planning 3

Why Do It? 5

What Makes a Good Plan? 8

What Makes Planning Agile? 9

Summary 10

Discussion Questions 10

Chapter 2: Why Planning Fails 11

Planning Is by Activity Rather Than Feature 12

Multitasking Causes Further Delays 15

Features Are Not Developed by Priority 17

We Ignore Uncertainty 17

Estimates Become Commitments 18

Summary 18

Discussion Questions 19

Chapter 3: An Agile Approach 21

An Agile Approach to Projects 23

An Agile Approach to Planning 27

Summary 31

Discussion Questions 32

Part II: Estimating Size 33

Chapter 4: Estimating Size with Story Points 35

Story Points Are Relative 36

Velocity 38

Summary 40

Discussion Questions 41

Chapter 5: Estimating in Ideal Days 43

Ideal Time and Software Development 44

Ideal Days as a Measure of Size 46

One Estimate, Not Many 46

Summary 47

Discussion Questions 47

Chapter 6: Techniques for Estimating 49

Estimates Are Shared 51

The Estimation Scale 52

Deriving an Estimate 54

Planning Poker 56

Why Planning Poker Works 59

Summary 60

Discussion Questions 60

Chapter 7: Re-Estimating 61

Introducing the SwimStats Website 61

When Not to Re-Estimate 62

When to Re-Estimate 64

Re-Estimating Partially Completed Stories 66

The Purpose of Re-Estimating 67

Summary 67

Discussion Questions 67

Chapter 8: Choosing between Story Points and Ideal Days 69

Considerations Favoring Story Points 69

Considerations Favoring Ideal Days 72

Recommendation 73

Summary 74

Discussion Questions 75

Part III: Planning for Value 77

Chapter 9: Prioritizing Themes 79

Factors in Prioritization 80

Combining the Four Factors 86

Some Examples 86

Summary 88

Discussion Questions 89

Chapter 10: Financial Prioritization 91

Sources of Return 93

An Example: WebPayroll 96

Financial Measures 102

Comparing Returns 108

Summary 109

Discussion Questions 109

Chapter 11: Prioritizing Desirability 111

Kano Model of Customer Satisfaction 112

Relative Weighting: Another Approach 117

Summary 119

Discussion Questions 120

Chapter 12: Splitting User Stories 121

When to Split a User Story 121

Splitting across Data Boundaries 122

Splitting on Operational Boundaries 124

Removing Cross-Cutting Concerns 125

Don't Meet Performance Constraints 126

Split Stories of Mixed Priority 127

Don't Split a Story into Tasks 127

Avoid the Temptation of Related Changes 128

Combining Stories 128

Summary 129

Discussion Questions 129

Part IV: Scheduling 131

Chapter 13: Release Planning Essentials 133

The Release Plan 134

Updating the Release Plan 138

An Example 139

Summary 142

Discussion Questions 143

Chapter 14: Iteration Planning 145

Tasks Are Not Allocated During Iteration Planning 147

How Iteration and Release Planning Differ 148

Velocity-Driven Iteration Planning 149

Commitment-Driven Iteration Planning 158

My Recommendation 162

Relating Task Estimates to Story Points 163

Summary 165

Discussion Questions 166

Chapter 15: Selecting an Iteration Length 167

Factors in Selecting an Iteration Length 167


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