I want to address a question I was sent recently and that I get asked about once a month. The question has to do with how we estimate how many hours it will take to deliver a given product backlog if we have no historical data at all.
My first bit of advice is always to try to put off answering until you’re able to get even one sprint of historical data. But that’s not always possible. When it’s not my general recommendation is to conduct one or more commitment-driven sprint planning meetings and use those to forecast likely velocity.
However, some people are still more comfortable thinking in hours and rather than forecast velocity, they want to forecast the number of hours a product backlog will take. From there they will usually estimate the duration of the project (something that could be done more directly with a velocity estimate). But, since it’s a common question, I’d like to address it.
links for 2011-09-18