Agile Estimation – How the unit of measurement and precision affect people’s perception of estimates?

Agile practitioners will all agree that estimates are not the same as commitments, they are approximations but often times we treat them as such and sometimes we give them, unknowingly a level of trust and confidence simply based on the unit of measure and the precision of the measurement.

Take into consideration the following examples:

  • Example 1: ~4 weeks vs ~160 hours
  • Example 2: ~160 hours vs ~158.75 hours

Example 1, 160 hours can give the perception of a higher degree of precision based on the fact that hours is a more granular unit of measure.

Example 2, 158.75 hours can give the perception of a higher degree of accuracy based on the level of precision compared to the rounded estimate of 160 hours.

The next time you provide an estimate, think about the unit of measure and precision used to ensure you’re not providing a false sense of precision and accuracy in your estimate.

If you have any thoughts or opinions to share, then please don’t hesitate to share.