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Time estimation

Time estimation in Agile Project Management

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Time estimation in Agile Project Management

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

All offices should understand that making estimations by using a fixed time may not always be accurate. Teams can estimate the time required for development in relative units.

  1. The time estimation topic is sensitive

Detailed time estimation practices and the term “velocity” are introduced in the Business Value-Oriented Product Management section.

Estimation of effort (the work that needs to be done) requires a collaboration between teams that are closely related to development or delivery.

They share their best assumptions about the time it will take to complete the effort in relative points. The estimation is based on a number of factors such as:

  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Understanding of the product
  • Understanding of the technology
  • External dependencies
  • Internal dependencies
  • Difficulty level

Reasons for time estimation in relative units may be:

  • The exact time required for the effort is unclear.
  • Additional information may be needed to estimate the required time for development (realization) in the next stages accurately.
  • Team preference to follow popular techniques to estimate time in relative units.
  • Reducing overall stress among teams.

The time estimation topic is sensitive

The time estimation topic is sensitive, as, in real situations, the project sponsor or management roles may require delivery time for a project that is shorter than the estimated period. At the same time, teams can not promise delivery of the project within the required timeframe.

Unrealistic requirements for work completion can cause stress, and at some point, the teams could estimate their work incorrectly. Teams may also start adding hidden buffer time to their estimates. If they would normally give 5 time points to an effort (task), they can add two more in secret, so the overall estimate becomes 7 points.

A recommended scenario to avoid this case is not to press the teams for a short time estimate, but rather optimize and speed up other processes as far as possible with the help of all management offices.

This optimization can be accomplished by providing a better working environment, larger and more capable teams, timely resources and information, and any other factors that can positively affect development and delivery periods.

On the other hand, development teams must follow the organization's priorities and understand that any delays cost a lot of resources. Deliberate delay in work can harm the organization and other external parties.

All departments and teams may need to define deadlines for efforts in order to help them to focus.

Comments from the BVOP™ community on “Time estimation”


Estimating development time using a fixed time may not always be accurate. Teams can estimate using relative units. Effort estimation requires collaboration between development and delivery teams. They estimate the time based on factors like experience, skills, and difficulty level. Using relative units reduces stress and allows for more accurate estimation in later stages. Detailed practices are introduced in Business Value-Oriented Product Management.

Time estimation is a sensitive topic in project management because management may require shorter delivery times than estimated. Unrealistic requirements can cause stress and incorrect estimates. To avoid this, it's recommended to optimize other processes and provide a better working environment. Delays cost resources, so teams must follow priorities and meet deadlines.

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