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Effective Estimating

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Hosted By
Jim S. and Larry A.
Effective Estimating


Session Overview:

People transitioning to agile practices often yearn for the (illusory) sense of certainty they once felt. “If only Agile had a way to predict when things would be done…”, they say.

But Agile does have a way to predict when things will be done, and it's remarkably easy. Though variances between estimates and actuals has been plus-or-minus 20% in Ron's experience, that’s better (possibly by an order of magnitude!) than anything else his teams have ever used.
He he even had a product owner say, “I didn’t know estimating could be FUN!”

Relative sizing (true relative sizing) combined with velocity (the averaged pace of a stable team’s accomplished work per sprint) lets anyone march down the backlog and predict: “we’ll be about here on June 15th”, and ask, “do we have the right stuff above the line?” It’s not magic, but it works like magic!

Some agilists believe that estimating does not provide value. Unfortunately, executives keep asking us for estimates, so we need to deal with the issue. It turns out that we can reply with remarkably helpful answers using techniques that are useful not only for estimating, but also for chartering and even team-building.

During this workshop, we’ll use a simulation to practice estimating techniques that actually work. By attending this session, you will:
• understand why absolute estimating is futile
• effectively execute relative sizing
• understand the prerequisites for effective estimating
• avoid pitfalls that undercut effective estimating
• combine relative sizing and measures of velocity to predict what will be completed by when

For a preview of some of what Ron will discuss in this session about estimation, see his blog post on the topic:

About Our Featured Speaker:

Ron Lichty, based in San Francisco and Seattle, consults with software and product teams and organizations globally to make software development “hum”. Ron’s book, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams (, published by Addison Wesley, has been compared by many readers to programming classics The Mythical Man-Month and Peopleware. Ron also co-authors the periodic Study of Product Team Performance (

Principal and owner of Ron Lichty Consulting, Inc. (, he has trained teams in Scrum, transitioned teams from waterfall to agile, coached teams already using agile to make their software development "hum", and trained managers in managing software people and teams. He takes on interim VP Engineering roles and to other clients provides VPE-level guidance and advice to untangle the knots in software development and transform chaos to clarity.

Ron has led teams and organizations at companies like Apple Computer, Fujitsu, Charles Schwab, Avenue A / Razorfish, Forensic Logic, Stanford, Check Point, and dozens of startups of all sizes. He co-chairs the Silicon Valley Engineering Leadership Community, and the Enterprise Agile Global Community.

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