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Time planning

Time planning in Agile Project Management and Scrum

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Time planning in Agile Project Management and Scrum

The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Project Management Certification program.

This chapter explains the concept of Time planning in the context of BVOP.

  1. What is Time planning?
  2. Time planning and Agile project management
  3. Time planning and Scrum
  4. Who does time planning?
  5. Previous time consumption of a similar activity
  6. Current knowledge of scope and requirements
  7. Relational effort points
  8. Teams velocity
  9. Conversion of relative points to a real time estimate

What is Time planning?

Time planning is the activity that the project manager performs at the beginning of the project to calculate the time it takes to complete all the tasks and formulate an official statement of the total time needed.

The required development time may not apply to the whole project, but only to specific tasks.

At Waterfall Project Management Practices, time planning usually refers to all the work that needs to be completed.

Time planning and Agile project management

In Agile practices, time planning is more often about smaller periods. Agile addresses the idea of ​​avoiding planning for very long periods. The purpose of ​​planning for shorter periods originates from the claim that the farther in time we plan, the greater our chance of error.

Time planning and Scrum

Scrum forces the doctrine that work planning is done only for the current sprint. Instead of planning the time required to develop specific tasks, the opposite is approached. For a fixed period (called Sprint), the number of tasks that can be created during that fixed period (Sprint) is planned.

Who does time planning?

Usually, the project manager plans the time it takes to develop the project. Key roles from the technical teams advise the project manager on each individual task.

As the Agile methodologies are many, there is no clear and precise definition and rules as to who exactly makes the plans.

Scrum planning is done by the entire Scrum team. This process is collaborative.

About this chapter

This chapter is part of the BVOP Project and Program Management Certification program guide.

Time planning in the context of the BVOP is a continuous process. For detailed estimates of required completion time of a given effort (task, item or initiative that needs work) multiple factors are taken into account:

  • Previous time consumption of a similar activity
  • Current knowledge of scope and requirements
  • Relational effort points
  • Teams velocity

Previous time consumption of a similar activity

If a similar effort or activity has already been done, its time consumption may be a base for future time estimations.

Current knowledge of scope and requirements

When effort is already planned, the estimated development time may no longer be correct as scope and requirements may have changed.

Re-estimating the required time for an effort to be executed is recommended before development starts. This can be done by checking all current known requirements and scope.

Re-estimation of an effort may reflect on the total time estimation of all other known and defined efforts.

Relational effort points

Relational effort points are recommended by the BVOP when an effort is being estimated.

For example, instead of putting an estimate of 3 days for a task, giving it 10 effort points would be a better relative estimate that is not strictly bound to an exact required amount of time that, in some cases, may not be accurate.

Story points and T-Shirt sizes are popular measurement examples of relational effort points.

Teams velocity

Team velocity is a popular term that means an approximate amount of work a team can produce for a defined timeframe.

Using team velocity is a helpful tool for estimating the completion time of a collection of planned efforts (work).

Conversion of relative points to a real time estimate

Conversion of relational points to real-time is possible but should be used with caution, as this conversion gives approximate values and not the exact needed time for an effort.

The basic conversion of relative points to a real time can be based on the current team’s velocity, the fixed time interval, and the total effort points of all planned efforts.

The following issues related to chapter "Time planning" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of April 18, 2024, 9:52 am

ID Issue Time Category
0 Who does time planning? 60 sec PM, PDM
1 What is Time planning? 60 sec PM, PDM
2 Relational effort points 60 sec PM, PDM
3 Teams velocity 60 sec PM, PDM
4 Current knowledge of scope and requirements 60 sec PM, PDM
5 Conversion of relative points to a real time estimate 60 sec PM, PDM
6 Time planning and Scrum 60 sec PM, PDM
7 Time planning and Agile project management 60 sec PM, PDM
8 Previous time consumption of a similar activity 60 sec PM, PDM

Comments from the BVOP™ community on “Time planning”

Summary

Time planning is the process of calculating the time required to complete tasks and creating an official statement of the total time needed. In Waterfall Project Management, it refers to all the work that needs to be done. In Agile practices, time planning is focused on shorter periods to avoid errors. Scrum only plans for the current sprint and determines how many tasks can be completed during that time.

The project manager usually plans the project's development time with advice from technical team members. There is no clear definition for who plans in Agile methodologies. Scrum planning is done collaboratively by the entire team.

Time planning in BVOP is a continuous process that considers multiple factors for estimating the completion time of a task, such as previous time consumption of similar activities, current knowledge of scope and requirements, relational effort points, and team velocity. Re-estimating the required time for an effort is recommended before development starts, as the scope and requirements may have changed. This can affect the total time estimation of all defined efforts.

Relational effort points are suggested by BVOP for estimating effort. Instead of giving an exact time estimate, using effort points provides a better relative estimate. Story points and T-Shirt sizes are examples of effort points. Team velocity is the approximate amount of work a team can complete in a defined timeframe. It is useful for estimating the completion time of planned efforts.

Relative points can be converted to real time, but the result is only an estimate and not exact. This conversion depends on the team's velocity, a fixed time interval, and the total effort points of planned tasks. Use caution when relying on this method.

Comments on “Time planning in Agile Project Management and Scrum”

  1. Laurence Mcdonald

    Hello. Should we be planning time planning in Scrum practices? Isn't team velocity typical for Scrum teams only?

  2. Nathaniel Reynolds

    Hello! Planning time planning in Scrum practices is an interesting and relevant topic. While team velocity is a core metric in Scrum, it's important to understand that time planning can be a valuable complementary practice for a Scrum team. Scrum emphasizes empiricism and adaptability, and planning time effectively aligns with these principles. Here's why it matters: Time planning helps teams make commitments to stakeholders with greater confidence. While velocity gives you an idea of how much work can be completed within a sprint, having a sense of when that work will be done helps in managing stakeholder expectations. Time planning also helps identify potential bottlenecks and dependencies early. It ensures that the team is aware of any constraints that might affect the delivery timeline, allowing for proactive mitigation. It can even encourage better collaboration within the team. When team members discuss and agree on the time estimates for individual tasks or user stories, it promotes a shared understanding of the work involved. By tracking the planned vs. actual time spent on tasks, a Scrum team can learn from their estimation accuracy over time. This feedback loop contributes to continuous improvement. That said, it's important to remember that Scrum doesn't prescribe detailed time planning. It focuses on what can be done in a fixed time frame (the sprint), rather than estimating every task down to the hour. Some teams use techniques like Story Points for estimation, which are more abstract and based on effort rather than time. This approach provides flexibility while maintaining predictability.

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