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Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn

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Part II. Estimating Size

Agile teams separate estimates of size from estimates of duration. To understand the distinction, suppose I am tasked with moving a large pile of dirt from one corner of my yard to another. I could look at the pile of dirt, assess my tools (a shovel and a wheelbarrow), and directly estimate the job at five hours. In arriving at this estimate, I bypassed any estimate of size and went directly to an estimate of duration.

Suppose instead that I look at the pile and estimate its size. Based on its dimensions, I estimate the pile to contain about 300 cubic feet of dirt. This is my estimate of the size of this project. But an estimate of size alone is not useful in this case. We want to know how long it will take to move the ...

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