What are valid reasons for increasing the story points for a user story during or after a Sprint?



  • While estimating user stories, we are assigning story points based on complexity. If we get unexpected situations like server unreachable, network down, dependent items, or delays, can we increase the story points for a user story in the middle of a Sprint, or request that the user story roll over into the next Sprint?

    In addition, imagine that we completed a user story on time but we did more background work than visible in the story. Can we increase the story points for that story after the fact?



  • TL;DR: Don't mess with story points.

    They are an estimation tool, you use current knowledge at time of estimation to come up with a number. Any unexpected delay may cause you to deliver less than was initially planned, that's ok. You could not anticipate it, but you should not retroactively change your estimate.

    After your sprint is done, you will use the total number of story points of completed stories to update your velocity, so your next sprint can be planned based on better numbers. Maybe your velocity goes down because your IT operations department is having issues delivering the service quality that you expect? Maybe someone is sick? By adjusting the velocity you take this into account for the next sprint.

    However, the story points already assigned to stories in the active sprint must not be touched, because that would occlude the actual issues at hand. You may modify story points for backlog items when you learn something about the story itself which indicates that your initial estimate was likely wrong. But you should not include external factors that are completely unrelated to the story itself, especially not ones that you can't know at the time of estimation.

    When you find that particular kinds of stories consistently take more effort than you estimate (maybe because you underestimated the bureaucratic work involved in getting a new server VM commissioned) you can use that knowledge to make better estimates in future.




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