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Scrum Score

"Half-done Is not done. Anything that's in process costs money and energy without delivering anything." – Jeff Sutherland


From the concept of story points to planning poker, this chapter delves into these strategies and discusses how they can significantly enhance the accuracy of your estimations. These techniques also encourage collaboration among team members, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and the opportunity for open dialogue, ultimately leading to improved outcomes.

Scrum Score

In the scrum world, story points play a crucial role in measuring scrum performance. They serve as a compass, guiding teams through the complexities of product development by offering a nuanced method of estimating effort. Unlike traditional estimation methods that solely focus on time, story points take into account the intricacies of tasks, embracing dimensions such as complexity, uncertainty, and risk. This comprehensive approach allows teams to confidently navigate the unpredictable software development landscape, ensuring greater control and success.

The true value of story points lies in their ability to foster a shared understanding within the team, promoting collaboration and open dialogue. They act as a catalyst for meaningful conversations about work, encouraging team members to share their perspectives and reach a consensus on the effort required to complete tasks. By engaging in this process, teams enhance the accuracy of their estimations and strengthen their overall cohesion and mutual respect. In essence, story points are more than just a tool for estimation; they serve as a guiding light that illuminates the path to successful product delivery and team growth, empowering teams to achieve their full potential.

Story Points

Story points are a unit of measure scrum teams use to estimate the effort required to implement a given piece of work, typically a feature or user story. They quantify the time it will take and the complexity, risk, and uncertainty involved.

Complexity: Think of story points as a scale for work complexity. For instance, if you were asked to move boxes, a small package might be 1 point, a larger box could be 2 points, and an enormous, heavy box might be 13 points. The numbers don't relate to a specific measure (like weight or size), but they give you a relative comparison between tasks.

The numerical values of story points can vary, but many teams use a Fibonacci-like sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.). This sequence reflects the inherent uncertainty in estimating more extensive, more complex work—the bigger the task, the more uncertainty around it; thus, the estimates grow exponentially, not linearly.

Velocity: Over time, teams develop a sense of their 'velocity' - the number of story points they can typically complete in one sprint (a set work period, usually 2-4 weeks). This helps them predict how much work they can do in future sprints.

Communication: Story points facilitate effective communication across teams. Using story points, team members can develop a shared understanding of the complexity and effort associated with a task, which can help streamline planning sessions and improve cross-team coordination.

Over time, consistent use of story points can help teams establish a universal language that facilitates better communication. This shared understanding can help team members identify potential roadblocks and work together more efficiently to overcome them.

Accuracy: Using story points can help teams identify patterns and trends in their work, leading to process improvements and more accurate estimations of effort and time. By providing a more accurate picture of what is required to complete a task, teams can better manage expectations and deliver high-quality results on time.

Reference: Teams often use reference stories to help them estimate story points. A reference story is a user story that has already been calculated and can be used as a benchmark for evaluating new levels. It is important to note that reference stories should be chosen carefully to ensure they are similar in complexity to the latest reports being estimated. Having multiple reference stories to choose from can help reduce bias and improve the accuracy of the estimates.

Planning Poker

Planning Poker is a consensus-based, gamified technique predominantly used in agile project management for estimating work complexity and timeboxing. The essence of this technique lies in its collaborative nature, engaging team members in a discussion to reach a mutual understanding of the task's complexity and the effort required.

In planning poker, each team member gets a set of cards with values corresponding to the potential points that could be assigned (such as 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.). Team members "bet" by placing a face-down card, representing their estimate for each user story. When everyone has placed their bet, the cards are revealed, and the team discusses the forecast, especially if there's a large discrepancy.

Openness: To allocate tasks effectively, promote open dialogue among team members. Trust in the collaborative decision-making process allows the team to derive accurate estimates for studies by harnessing the collective wisdom of its members.

Disparities in estimates should not be viewed negatively; they present an opportunity for team members to share their unique perspectives and contribute to a more accurate final estimate. Be aware that the effectiveness of planning poker increases when estimates come directly from the people working on the task, as their hands-on experience provides more accurate estimations.

Engagement: Don't forget to make the process engaging. Injecting fun into the conversation can help team members stay motivated and involved. Creating a positive and open environment that allows for free-flowing discussion will lead to better outcomes and more successful project completions.

Burndown Charts

In scrum, a burndown chart visually represents the work to be done versus the time left in a sprint. It's a tool to track and communicate the team's progress towards the sprint goal.

Graph: The horizontal axis of a burndown chart typically represents time (usually in days of the current sprint), and the vertical axis represents the amount of work remaining, often measured in story points, hours, or backlog items. At the start of the sprint, the total amount of work to be done is plotted on the chart. As the team completes the tasks, the chart 'burns down' towards zero. Ideally, the diagram should reach zero by the end of the sprint, indicating that all the planned work has been completed.

The burndown chart provides a quick, at-a-glance view of:

  1. How much work is left to be done?

  2. The pace at which the team is completing work.

  3. Whether the team is on track to complete all the planned work by the end of the sprint.

By providing this information, burndown charts help teams manage their work more effectively and make necessary adjustments to catch up on schedule.

Self-Management: The burndown chart can also be a highly effective tool for self-directed and self-managed teams. This chart not only enables the team members to visualize their progress but also allows them to identify potential roadblocks and adjust their work accordingly. Additionally, it helps to determine the project's overall status and assess the team's ability to meet the goals and objectives.

Transparency: The burndown chart is also a great way to encourage transparency within the team, as everyone can see the progress and contribute to the project's overall success. Using the burndown chart, the team can stay on track and maintain a clear focus, ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and the project is delivered successfully.

Quality: Burndown charts can help teams balance the need for quality with the pressure of deadlines. By providing a visual representation of the work remaining, they help teams focus and meet deadlines without sacrificing quality.

Predictability: Burndown charts can enhance predictability by tracking team productivity and consistency over time. This enables the team to forecast future performance and make informed decisions.

These factors highlight the versatility and utility of burndown charts in scrum. However, it's important to remember that these charts are just tools. Their effectiveness greatly depends on how the team uses them.

Definition of Done

In scrum, the definition of done (DoD) is a shared understanding among the team about what it means for work to be complete. A user story must meet acceptance criteria to be considered "done."

The scrum team creates the DoD, including the product owner, scrum master, and the development team. The purpose of the DoD is to ensure the quality of the product or project. It acts as a checklist that must be checked before a product increment is considered shippable.

Involvement: In creating DoD, it's essential that every member of the scrum team is involved. By including everyone in making the DoD, the team can ensure that everyone has a clear and shared understanding of what "done" means for each item on the product backlog. This helps avoid misunderstandings and confusion, leading to a more cohesive and effective team.

Clarity: The DoD should be written clearly and concisely to ensure that everyone involved in the project understands what is expected of them. It is essential to remember that the DoD should be flexible. While it is crucial to avoid ambiguity or interpretation, it is also necessary to allow for some flexibility to accommodate unforeseen circumstances or changes to the project scope. When writing the DoD, it is essential to strike the right balance between clarity and flexibility to ensure the project is completed successfully and efficiently.

Specific: In the DoD, include measurable criteria that can be easily verified. For example, stating that "code is tested" is a good start, but it's much more effective to specify that "code must pass all unit and integration tests" to provide a more comprehensive definition. By including specific criteria that can be measured and verified, teams can ensure that their deliverables meet the necessary quality standards and are ready for deployment.

Technical: Technical aspects should be noticed when creating the DoD. Along with basic functionality, technical considerations such as code reviews, performance testing, security checks, and other necessary validations should be included. This ensures that the final product meets the customer's needs and meets the highest quality standards for success in today's competitive marketplace.

Alignment: The DoD is essential to any project as it sets standards for the quality of work. It should align with the project's business goals to ensure the end product is functional and meets the customer's needs. A well-aligned DoD meets the customer's requirements and adds value to the business in terms of revenue and satisfaction.

Visibility: The DoD is visible to everyone on the team, not just the developers. One way to accomplish this is to display it prominently on the team's task board or in their project management software. By doing so, the unit can be reminded of the criteria they must meet to ensure that their work meets the standards set by the product owner and is completed promptly and efficiently.

Update: To ensure that the DoD accurately reflects the team's understanding of what "done" means, it should be reviewed and updated regularly. By regularly revisiting and updating the DoD, the team can maintain a clear and consistent understanding of what is expected of them and what they need to do to succeed.


Velocity in scrum measures how much work a team can tackle during a single sprint and is a crucial metric in predicting the amount of work the team can get done in future sprints. It's calculated at the end of the sprint by totaling the points for all fully completed user stories.

Data-driven: The importance of velocity lies in its ability to provide teams with an empirical, data-driven method to forecast their work capacity. This allows for more realistic planning and helps manage stakeholders' expectations. Tracking velocity over time can highlight trends and patterns, providing insights into whether process changes are helping the team improve.

Productivity: A decrease in velocity may not reflect a reduction in productivity. Instead, it may be due to the team taking on more complex tasks requiring more time and resources.

Absence: Be aware that unplanned absences can impact velocity. If someone unexpectedly needs to take time off due to illness or other personal reasons, this can cause delays and reduce the team's overall output. As a result, it's essential to take these external factors into account when planning future sprints. By doing so, you can ensure that the team can work sustainably and continue to progress towards their goals.

Dynamic: Note that a team's velocity is not a constant value but a unique metric subject to change. This can be due to various factors, such as the team's composition. For instance, if a new member is added to the team, it may take some time to integrate and be comfortable with its processes and dynamics fully.



The importance of accurate effort estimation, collaboration, and timely delivery in software development cannot be overstated. One key aspect is to improve your team's velocity and productivity while maintaining high-quality standards and effectively managing stakeholder expectations. This can be achieved by fostering a shared understanding within the group through story points, which promote collaboration and open dialogue, allowing for a more accurate estimation of the task complexity and effort required.

Another valuable technique is planning poker, a consensus-based approach that engages team members in discussions to reach a mutual understanding of task complexity. By leveraging this technique, you can ensure that your team's estimations are more accurate and reliable, improving the overall planning and execution of your projects. Utilizing burndown charts can help you track and communicate progress toward your sprint goals, allowing for better visibility and enabling timely adjustments to keep your team on track.

To ensure work completeness, it is crucial to establish a clear and comprehensive DoD. This shared understanding among the team about what it means for work to be complete is a checklist that must be met before considering a product increment potentially shippable. By involving all team members in creating the DoD, you can ensure that everyone clearly understands what "done" means for each item on the product backlog, fostering cohesion and effectiveness.

Accurate effort estimation, collaboration, and timely delivery are paramount in software development. By embracing scrum methodologies and utilizing techniques such as story points, planning poker, burndown charts, and a comprehensive definition of done, you can enhance your team's productivity, improve estimation accuracy, and deliver high-quality results. Embrace the challenges, communicate openly, and strive for continuous improvement.


As a CTO ask yourself the following:

  1. How can you ensure accurate effort estimation and timely delivery in software development projects?

  2. What strategies can you implement to enhance collaboration and open dialogue within the development team?

  3. How can you improve team velocity and productivity while maintaining quality and managing stakeholder expectations?


Your takeaways from this chapter:

  1. The importance of accurate effort estimation, collaboration, and timely delivery in software development.

  2. Embrace Scrum methodologies, tools, and techniques to enhance software development.

  3. Improve team velocity and productivity while maintaining quality and managing stakeholder expectations.

  4. Foster a shared understanding within the team through story points and promote collaboration and open dialogue.

  5. Using planning poker as a consensus-based approach to estimate task complexity and the required effort.

  6. Leverage burndown charts to track and communicate progress toward sprint goals.

  7. Establish a clear and comprehensive definition of done to ensure work completeness.


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