Who does in Scrum estimate?

Relative Estimation





Nowadays, there are many companies adopt Agile and Scrum because it is the trend. However, the approach command and control appears every time that managers and team leaders want to track the progress of an iteration or (that is even worse) the team members.

A funny story happened in a huge company where the business analyst (former team leader) wanted to know when will be finished a user story. Furthermore, he decided that the end of the user story had to be before one date.

Why did it happen?

Well, an Agile consultant allowed everyone in the team (developers, testers, architect and  business analyst) to estimate the effort during the Sprint Planning. That company hired me as Agile Coach. I suggested him that the only guys who should estimate were developers and tester.

Why did I say that?

The approach behind the estimation is: if you work on the user stories you should estimate (using planning poker, T-Shirt, etc). It means if you develop or test code. The architect only has to build a technical solution and Business Analyst (it is redundant role considering the Product Owner) should focus on writing user stories that it is a functional work.

In addition, on that company the architect has a lot of experience working with a development’s framework so for him every user story was estimated as easy and that behavior was very frustrated for team members because they have to defend their estimation in each round.

Later the architect check the progress of the team daily that it was totally shocking to team members. As soon as I could I got an appointment with a manager that sponsored the project in order to recommended him to talk with his architect to avoid that wrong behavior.

That and  other bad Agile smell have happened in companies where are plenty of managers, team leaders, QA managers, QA leaders, Architect Leader, PMO, etc. In those companies to avoid firing managers they decided to assign roles inside the new Agile structure. Unfortunately (for managers hahaha) in Agile there are not roles as leaders, directors, etc because of that managers feel uncomfortable using Scrum or Kanban.

To conclude, if any company hired you as Agile Coach you should talk with directors in order to discuss what is Scrum and  what are the roles involved there.

Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.


  1. I agree with you everyone should be educated in agile, starting with management.

    I’d like to reply on the estimation question. I think everyone being full-time member of the team should estimate. Correct, this does not include the product owner.

    I’ve read the recommendation to always take the largest estimate throw by any team member. Especially in the case when you know there’s a mix of experienced and less experienced team members. If you must agree on a lower estimate, then the team member with the large estimate will need to discuss why they chose a larger estimate. This discussion can be tricky for a less senior team member. Any discussion will lead to either taking the higher estimate; or pressuring someone in taking the lower estimate.

    1. Hi Frederik

      I have the particular point of view that if you will be able to develop any code you
      should not estimate. Of course, depends on team.

      Thanks for your comments.


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