Story Grooming, the Cost of a Point

Working closely with the business analyst of the team, a seven week release plan was drawn up comprising three two week sprints and a regression week. The regression week is a week for quality assurance engineers to test everything from the release rigorously before it is published to the app store. It was agreed with the team that the new proposal, having four main tab sections, would be divided into four epics. My Trips, to encompass any day of travel flows and user interfaces, My Profile, Information and Book a Flight. Each epic was then divided into stories based on individual pieces of functionality. As the new navigation system has detailed specification in the iOS Human Interface Guidelines a lot of the functionality will be straight forward to implement. As no new features are being built the main body of work involves moving components and re-organising the layout. As such, several stories were created for introducing the new navigation component, that will be started in the first sprint. These initial stories will shape the framework for the following sprints.

The stories were created using a product management tool called Jira. Any visuals, user flows, prototypes and specification were attached. A Grooming session was planned. This is a meeting where the entire development, design and QA team go through each story and assign a size to it. The size is a numeric estimation, and a measure on complexity, not on how long it will take to complete. For example, in the meeting the first story called “As a user, I want an iOS tab navigation in my app,” was estimated as an 8. While implementing the Search Flights flow into the new navigation was only a 3. The 8 is reasonably high because it involves adding a new component. Re-housing the search flights section is only estimated to be a 3 by the team as the new navigation will already be built. 

Planning a new feature this way has many benefits both for the team and the business. The team gets an early understanding of the project and gets to discuss the complexity from a development, design and testing perspective. This greater understanding also fosters a sense of ownership, teamwork and pride in the product. Once all the stories have been sized the total value is added to the epics, which are then added to get the release points value. A follow on meeting from grooming is the sprint planning session. At this meeting, the two week sprints are planned. As the total release points were 63, the three sprints were divided into 21 points each. The Business Analyst adds each story to the relevant sprint, and each member of the team adds tasks to the story. For example, a design review, a code review, development or testing tasks. 

www.planningpoker.com is a great tool for fast, efficient sizing of stories. Below is an example of a sprint sized.