The Story PointsMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
Continuing on my discussion in my article “Story Estimation”, on the importance of how a good estimate is helpful for project management. For the team, it is important to understand what actually is the “Story Points”. In simple words, it is the effort required to complete a User Story. Generally it is related to the number of hours and calculated as man hours or man days to complete a User Story.
In my opinion, the Story Points are a bit different due to two main aspects; the first aspect is that it cannot be just a number of hours because it also carries the complexity related to the User Story. For example, two tasks of the same duration can differ from each other in terms of complexity therefore they both should not have the same story points. This concept is important in another dimension that if we compare the task of junior level resources with the same duration task of a senior resource, obviously the output of the senior resource will be much more mature and carry more value. In this scenario, they both should not be given the same story points to suggest that they both are equal in terms of effort and complexity. That is the reason that we expect the senior resources to burn more story points and that is how you measure performance in the same timeline for two different resources.
The second aspect is that if a task is just considered as the number of man hours or man days, then would the Story Points be decreased next time the same task is repeated. Generally it is common for resources to take much less time to repeat some activity which has some similarity to the task completed before. For example, a resource completed a task of 12 Story Points, so next time if the same resource is asked to perform the same activity, he/she should be able to complete it in less time as compared to the first occasion. So when estimating the Story Points for the second time, they should remain the same, i.e. 12 Story Points despite the time it will take to complete this time as the value of output is the same as the first time.
The Story Points are much more considering the importance it carries to the client. Many times, different Effort Estimates and Story Points were allocated to the same task when there was an estimation meeting with different clients. So the point here is that the Story Points can be different from client to client based on the overall scenario.
It is therefore important that before starting on the Story Estimation activity, all the participants and stakeholders should be aligned on the understanding of Story Points. The better levels of understanding will definitely ensure good planning and execution of other project activities.