8 Shortcomings Why Story Points Never Work

1) Story points weren’t created for relative estimates

Relative estimates were used because absolute estimates were alwats wrong. Before story points teams were already estimating relatively with “ideal days”. The creators of story points found that one lol ideal day was, on average, three actual days.

2) Story Points are actually about variable estimates

Managers wondered why relative estimates were still always wrong the answer to that was story points, a measurement to obscure time. Story points changed estimates from relative time to variable time.

3) Story Points Never Work For Capacity

Historical data on sprints fluctuates. The average of points completed would, by definition, be lower than half of the sprints and higher than half of the sprints. If a team commits to the historical average they will, by the definition, fail 50% of their sprints.

4) A scope ceiling at the historical average lowers velocity, but doesn’t raise the success rate

With a sprint story point ceiling at the historical average 50% of the sprints will continue to underperform, but now the team also has a lower velocity.

5) A predictive historical average requires developer collusion

If a team is delivering a fixed historical average of story points that team is either sandbagging, lowering scope below their potential; or cooking the books, finding creative ways to manufacture points.

6) Scoping with average story point velocity guarantees disappointment

When teams cap the scope of a sprint they will never overdeliver on the scope. On the other hand no effort is guaranteed to be completed. The result is a forecast that is not just always wrong, but always worse.

7) Story Points cannot reflect uncertainty

A misunderstanding is that story points represent uncertainty. No amount of uncertainty can change the value of a story point estimate.

8) No two people understand story points the same

Story points are a single-valued variable estimate that represents neither sprint capacity nor uncertainty. They do not convert into into tangible utility such as time or cost. That is by design.



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