Story points – What does it mean?

We’ve just got a brand new Product Owner in our team! That’s really great! He knows the business domain, feels passionate and dedicated about new role (at least for now 🙂 )

Having a dedicated product owner who is focused on one team is extremely important for the overall team’s success.

But… our Product Owner is new to Scrum and is not aware of different planning and estimation techniques we use in our team – Story Points is one of them.
As the result quite obvious questions raised:

  • What are those story points?
  • How can i predict releases based on such estimates?

I used following short statements to explain the main essence of estimation with Story Points:

  • First of all story points are relative measure and please do not compare estimates with other team
  • Story points represent the complexity, effort and scope of the item. The higher the estimate, more effort it requires or more complex the item is.
  • This number includes everything in order to achieve company’s/team’s Definition of Done. Done means generally the following: tested, properly documented, has value to end customer, ready for production
  • Team’s throughput (velocity) is measured based on performance of e.g. last 3 sprints. And it means that this is the total number of points that can be included into sprint.
  • You can predict/plan future (release) based on historical data and high level estimates with story points.
  • You cannot force the team to change the estimates. You can only change priorities, scope based on information team shared with you.
  • Remember 3 != 3 !!! It is very important! (For some reasons it was very clear to him, although i expected a long debate here :))
  • High estimate (e.g. 13) might mean following to you. You have at least to options: item requires additional analysis and needs more detailing; item is very complex and just requires a lot of work
  • Last, but not least – Trust team’s estimates!

These short comments helped him to get this initial understanding of what is going on.

P.S. Encourage your teams to help your Product Owners in order to achieve common understanding about team’s throughput