Adopting an Agile workflow allows teams to estimate work more effectively. New user stories will come and team members should develop a progressively precise sense of how they are going to approach these stories and how much effort the user stories will take to complete. Everyone on the team should participate in the estimating process to arrive at a precise estimate that reflects the team’s true investment and understanding. The team’s ability as a whole to estimate new user stories will develop slowly if members don’t participate actively. Divide until Maximum Size or Less is an agile estimation technique that teams can use when estimating new user stories.
How Divide until Maximum Size or Less Works
The team chooses a maximum size for all the items. Every item is discussed by the team to decide if it’s already that size or less. In case the item is bigger than the maximum size, the team divides the team into sub-items. They then repeat the process with each sub-item. This will continue until each item is in the acceptable size range.
Benefits of Divide until Maximum Size or Less
Divide until Maximum Size or Less is a collaborative technique. All members of the team are included in the estimation process, so blaming someone is impossible as there’s no way to trace the member who made an estimate. As such, the group is responsible as a whole. Since everyone is liable, every member of the team will be more encouraged to participate in discussions and give an estimate.
Since Divide until Maximum Size or Less is an agile estimation technique, it is faster than traditional techniques. Members don’t need to spend all their time estimating user stories using time-consuming methods and they can focus more on their work. Team members don’t try to estimate days or dollars directly. Points or qualitative labels are instead used and the items the group is estimating are compared to each other. With this, members of the team don’t need to compare something to an intangible concept.
There are other agile estimation techniques that teams can use aside from Divide until Maximum Size or Less. One of these is Planning Poker where team members vote for an item estimate using individually-numbered playing cards. Voting is done repeatedly until the votes are the same. The Bucket System is another agile estimation technique. It uses the same order as Planning Poker. Items are estimated by putting them in buckets. Compared to Planning Poker, The Bucket System is faster since there’s a divide-and-conquer step. It can be used with bigger groups as well. The Bucket System can be used to estimate large numbers of items.
By using these agile estimation techniques, a group that has no previous idea of point values can understand the relative value of the stories they encounter. The sooner the team begins estimating points and monitoring their efforts, the more effective their point valuations will become. Every member of the team will eventually become more proficient at estimating new user stories.
— Slimane Zouggari