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Remaining stories Vs Remaining Hours

Some of backlog management tools use remaining hours as the measure to calculate the backlog items pending for the sprints.

While it is easy for any resource / team to think in terms of remaining hours rather than quantum of work pending, we will try and analyze few points here.

If the development team / Scrum master needs to update the Product owner / customer about the status of particular iteration scrum master has to update how many stories have been burnt and how many are pending. As Scrum requires a workable release / iteration during completion of every sprint, it will not make much use to express the on going status of sprint in terms of how many hours pending to the Product owner.

For example if the Sprint frequency is 10 working days (2 weeks), 10 resources are involved the budgeted effort for the team is 10 * 10 * 8 = 800 hours. Let us say after the end of the day 6, the team would have consumed 10 * 6 * 8 = 480 hours, the balance hours remaining will be 320 hours. But does this give an indication of how many features / stories are required to be burnt still. Not directly at least. It is always better to express the completed as well as pending efforts in terms of stories.

Also 800 hours of effort need not equal 800 hours “worth” of work. 800 hours may just have produced 600 hours of worth work done. In other words earned value is what is important and not the plain hours. This is the reason velocity is expressed in terms of number of stories brunt / sprint / team and not in hours utilized.

Overall this stories based thinking helps team to deliver only value added product / services leading to effective Lean ways of production. During retrospective meetings the teams should preferably consider what are the wastes (MUDA)in the system and finding out the ways to eliminate them in future sprints. This will ensure stories based thinking and improve the value stream mapping of the product / service.


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