Estimating when my project will be done



  • Suppose my project has 150 story points of work remaining to be done. Over the last 10 iterations the team has achieved the following velocities of 16, 12, 13, 5, 14, 7, 6, 12, 16, and 14. Assume two-week iterations and a team of four developers. When would you estimate that the project might be done?



  • Just because you have 150 story points in your backlog now does not mean that work captures the work necessary from your stakeholders' perspectives. Every iteration, you should be evaluating what has been done and what remains, adjusting what remains. You may add work, remove work, or determine that there's no work left to do that's the cost of another iteration and end the effort.

    You can use a burndown chart at the Product Backlog level to estimate when the Product Backlog will be finished. By using Yesterday's Weather (often the rolling average of the last three completed iterations), you can draw the burndown line and forecast when it will reach 0. After every iteration, you can recalculate the burndown line and revise your forecast.

    In your examples, if your velocities are in order and 12, 16, and 14 are your most recent iterations, your average velocity would be 14. So your burndown trend would indicate that your current backlog would be completed after 11 iterations. This is a very high-level forecast with a lot of error - changes to the backlog, a change in capacity for one or more iterations, any process improvements or changes carried out by the team, and even continuing to learn about the problem space will influence the completion. You can continue to revise this after every iteration to refine the forecast, but the same errors will apply until the work is actually done.



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