What are Some Agile Estimation Techniques

There must be some sort of reasonable estimation for managing or planning a project.

Study shows 60% of projects fail due to poor management and estimation skills. As the software industry growing number uses an agile methodology for perfect delivery of the project within timelines there are more agile estimation techniques evolving over the years. Agile projects do not use the traditional bottom-up approach like the waterfall model. In contrast, the agile methodology uses a top-down approach to solve the key issues by using currently available information.

So what is estimation? 

Well, the answer is simple. Any project delivery has some time limit. Estimation calculates that time to deliver the project successfully. Often people get puzzled is it necessary to estimate the efforts proportionate to time? 

I would say , Yes, It is. Because estimation helps us in the following factors.

  • It helps people to understand how much time they can spend to get the work done. And that’s how it helps the team to focus on work.
  • It predicts the finish line
  • To fill up the sprint with work and find out the issues if any at the right time.
  • And well, it helps to measure team progress.

    There are different estimation techniques used by the team to address each scrum. Let’s look at the few most prominent agile estimation techniques which help to build the project successfully within time limits.

  • Planning Poker
  • T-Shirt Sizes
  • Dot Voting
  • The bucket System
  • Large-Uncertain-Small

Planning Poker:

It is the most widely used technique for agile estimation. The business owner gets the item to estimate in the scrum meeting and then all team members are given the cards which have some numbers(usually Fibonacci series i.e. 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,20, etc). Everyone secretly selects the card and once the team is done, everyone has to reveal the number which they have estimated for that item to complete. If everyone selects relatively similar or nearby numbers then it is considered as a final average time to deliver the item. If there is a large difference in numbers then the discussions take place.

T-shirt Sizes:

This technique is helpful to differentiate the backlogs in different T-shirt sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, etc. The backlog is placed in the above columns according to their sizes. The decision about the sizes is decided after the mutual discussions among the team. This estimation technique usually followed in large projects where multiple teams are working on concurrent scrums. This technique helps to find the relatively approximate time to complete the work.

Dot Voting:

This method is more or less similar to “Planning Poker”. Instead of numbers, the team uses cards or stickers with the dots. More the dots, the more the time to get the work done. This technique is effective in small as well as large projects.

The Bucket System:

This method is yet again proved to be faster and potent for large projects. The team uses actual buckets or baskets in the same sequence as in planning poker. The team distributes the items in the buckets as per their weightage in terms of time. Again the discussions come forward if there are differences between the estimations among the team.


This estimation technique has 3 categories namely Large-Uncertain-Small. The team has asked for categories of the items in the above groups. The priority is given to the most extreme categories, and then the remaining discussions go on the complex item under an uncertain category.

However, usage of these methods depends on the organization, size of the team , size of the projects, etc. Apart from these methods, few organizations go deeper into segregating their scrum items further in affinity mapping, ordering methods, etc.

I Hope this blog covers give you the idea of how estimating agile projects.

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