Story Pointing Fibonacci

Story points are an estimate of the overall effort. By story pointing with Fibonacci, teams can provide a clearer, more accurate estimation scale.

Story points are an estimate of the overall effort. By story pointing with Fibonacci, teams can provide a clearer, more accurate estimation scale.

Estimates, while not entirely accurate, are still crucial to workflow. Even a rough approximation of the resources required or the amount of time it’ll take to accomplish a task is helpful when it comes to prioritizing tasks. These also allow you to set realistic expectations regarding a project’s complexity and timeframe.

Traditionally, estimates come in hours, days, or up to months. For more agile teams, however, the estimate comes in “story points.” These units of measurement estimate the overall effort required for a specific project, relative to complexity, risk/uncertainty, and repetition.

Story points are used in agile project management as metrics for effort. In this article, we will discuss how story points work and how to apply the Fibonacci sequence to story points.

How Do Story Points Work?

In the Agile framework, a project’s functionality, described from the perspective of what a user can do, is known as a “story.” An “epic” is a collection of user stories or requests. And an “initiative” is then a group of epics that the team undertakes.

To estimate how much effort and time is required, the Agile framework uses “story points.” These break things down into the amount of effort needed to complete one user story or request. There are three aspects to a story point estimation:

  • Complexity: How complex is the request? Does it involve plenty of steps?
  • Risk: Are there risks or uncertainties involved? Would you require a third-party solution?
  • Repetition: Is the request monotonous or routine? How familiar is the team with the task?

To estimate a story point, choose a base story—generally a simple, previously-completed request with a low story point value. This will become your “reference value” for the user story on the table. Will this require more effort? How much more? 

From there, estimate the story point value of the new task.

Each team member will have their own estimate for how much effort a task will take, so it’s essential to limit the numbers on the scale of measure. This is where the Fibonacci sequence comes in.

How Do You Use the Fibonacci Sequence for Story Points?

When using a scale from 1 to 100, it’s challenging to estimate the amount of effort required. Is something worth 45 points, or 50? What does the 5-point difference mean? Instead of a traditional 1-to-100 scale, the Fibonacci sequence gives a more precise and accurate measurement.

The Fibonacci sequence is a string of numbers in which the next number is the sum of the previous two. For example, this would go: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21… all the way up to 89. By taking larger jumps in value as the sequence progresses, you indicate that a project requires a larger amount of effort and about 60% more value than the previous number.

Instead of arguing over whether your story point estimate of a project is 45 or 50, you can then simply decide—is it worth 34 story points, or 55? The much larger gap and pre-set intervals make estimating more straightforward and realistic. This makes it easier to come to a consensus on story point estimates.

There are also other versions of the scale that other companies have started using. So, some teams prefer to go by the sequence of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100 to further simplify the estimating process.

Once the team has reached a consensus on the story point value, it can then present the estimate and set the expectations around the user request (the “story”). This allows the team to break down and further assess the amount of time and resources it needs to dedicate to complete the user story.

Benefits of Story Points

Story pointing has plenty of value within an agile business framework or an agile project/initiative. First and foremost, it is far more accurate, since the whole team understands the value of the story points. They can then plan their work accordingly and promptly deliver on a user request.

  1. Flexibility

Story pointing is also flexible as opposed to more strict time-based deadlines. It focuses more on the effort required, allowing people more time to complete a request or action. Story points can also let you further break down a user request—if the value is too high, you can break it down into smaller tasks with lower values.

  1. Trackability

Additionally, story pointing makes it easier to track actioned requests. It is not a measure of productivity, but it does provide a more relatable understanding of the size and scope of work involved. You can then determine that User Request A has a lower story point value, which will require less effort and—ideally—be completed sooner than User Request B.

  1. Teamwork

Finally, story pointing enables more teamwork since it requires the cooperation and collaboration of everyone to reach a consensus. By using this sequence, everyone gets a say and works together to decide on the story point value.

Story Points in Agile Framework

While it is possible to misuse or misunderstand story points, for the most part, they’re a vital asset to agile project management teams. By using story points, you get a more concrete estimate of the effort and resources involved in a story, epic, or initiative. Additionally, the team can more easily break your projects down into more manageable, actionable steps. That way, you can set reasonable and achievable expectations going forward.