SAFe™ (The Scaled Agile Framework) uses Story Points throughout the various levels as its estimation currency. This is covered in the “Story” article on the SAFe site. This is a pretty standard practice in organizations scaling agile these days. If you dive a bit deeper into how this is done in SAFe you will see that actually the story points used in SAFe are quite similar to “Ideal Developer Day” as this helps the teams align to a common baseline and support a rational economic ROI discussion at the level of Features/Capabilities that require effort from more than one team or haven’t even been mapped to a specific team yet. An alternative to using Story Points at the team level that is interesting to look at especially as Kanban is becoming a first-class citizen of the SAFe world is to use NoEstimates. In essence this means not trying to estimate the size of the work just slice work into a size that we can bite on and turn around quickly. To get a quick grasp of it think of replacing your classic fibonacci planning poker cards with a set of cards saying 1, TFB (Too Frighteningly Big), NFC (No Faintest Clue). This approach is rising in popularity among Kanban/ScrumBan practitioners – We’ve been looking at the “Iteration Planning” process for years trying to address some of its wastes/tensions. This “No Estimates” inspired approach to story estimation in PI Planning has a couple of benefits:
- It is faster – which comes in handy during PI Planning.
- It forces teams to slice into smaller stories which is better.
- It is naturally easier to baseline/align multiple teams around the same definition. (BTW a 1 here would be something like a 3 or 5 in the classic SAFe velocity calculation – a story that takes the team about 3 days to develop and 3 days to test)