Arin Sime to present at Agile 2010 on Range Estimation in Scrum

I am looking forward to presenting at Agile 2010 this year, and I was very pleased to find out that my session proposal on Range Estimation in Scrum has been accepted. Here is info about the session, and I hope to see you at the conference in August!

Building a More Accurate Burndown: Using Range Estimation in Scrum

Traditional Scrum burndowns are based on single point estimates of how long a task will take. However, single point estimates are inherently faulty and inaccurate, and they encourage underestimation. Learn how to incorporate range based estimation techniques into your Scrum burndown, and better communicate to your boss or clients what a project is really going to take. Arin will back up this thesis with academic and industry research, real world examples, and an engaging presentation style. Participants will leave with concrete tips & templates for using range estimates in their projects.

**Process/Mechanics**The first part of the session will focus on the pitfalls of traditional estimation techniques, in particular single point estimates. This will involve audience interaction as well as citing industry and academic research. Next the session will move into a discussion of range estimation and how that leads to better accuracy. Then I will present specific advice for how to use range estimates in common Scrum practices like Scrum poker and the burndown. Along the way I will show examples of how our company has been using this practice with clients over the last year, and some best practices that have come out of it. The techniques will be fairly simple and easy to adopt, but provide power results in estimating more accurately and better communication with managers and clients.

Potential pitfalls and best practices of range estimation will also be discussed. For example, some managers are reluctant to accept range estimates, but they can be convinced when a demonstration is made to them of how it better communicates risk and allows them to make better financial decisions on the viability of a project.

This topic started for me with a paper I wrote in my Masters in Management of IT program in 2009 at the University of Virginia, and now has become regular practice at OpenSource Connections. I am also pursuing further research on the topic with two professors from the University of Virginia (Professors Ryan Nelson and Mike Morris of the McIntire School of Commerce). Any preliminary findings or papers from that research will also be woven into the presentation.

I have proposed this as a 60 minute talk, but it could also be made into a 90 minute Tutorial with relative ease. In that scenario, I would bring more hands on activities to encourage participants to really see the value of range estimation in their projects. I have experience with those types of sessions from helping to teach corporate education classes at Virginia Commonwealth University, and I would use that experience to make sure things are kept interesting.

It’s my intention for this session to take the relatively easy-to-use but underutilized practice of range estimation, and make it so compelling that participants will want to apply it right away on their projects. This will be done through a combination of good research, real world examples, engaging presentation style, and practical tips.

Learning outcomes

  • Why single point estimates lead to underestimation
  • Why range estimation reduces natural biases
  • How range estimates better communicate a project’s impact
  • How to use range estimation in Scrum Poker
  • How to incorporate range estimates into a Scrum burndown
  • How range estimates impact project decision making

For those registered on the Agile 2010 site, you can also see this session here.