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Agile Estimating and Planning book review

September 3rd, 2013

While we do not practice “agile development” but rather (extremely) “lean agile”*, I have the need to understand different angles on planning to improve our ability to predict shipping dates.

Readability:

This book is very accessible, with loads of examples and use-cases. It provides a good red line to follow, working from the lowest levels (estimating a story) to the highest levels (implementing for large distributed teams). I especially enjoyed the example at the very end, where you follow a team in their first agile workflow.

Lessons learned:

  • Reasons for planning we previously did not consider enough, like “Reducing risk and uncertainty”.
  • Mis-using storypoints in our planning tool (Pivotal tracker) due to the lack of understanding their meaning. Mistakes include re-estimation for the wrong reasons, treating story-points as a measure of “time”, not planning in iterations.
  • Financial prioritizations, with different types of revenue/benefit (lower maintenance cost for example)
  • How to prioritize desirability
  • Iteration and release planning.

Conclusion:

I recommend this book for anyone who does any planning in the software industry, in teams of any size. You will walk away -at least- with a better understanding of why we’re getting it so wrong all the time.

* I think I recently saw this referred to as “half-assed agile” on twitter

Ramon de la Fuente

Pointy haired boss