AS 09 - Iteration Started without an Estimated Effort

The scope and duration of the iterations in an agile project are typically defined by the development team that must commit to the iteration goals and deadlines.

The Iteration Started without an Estimated Effort smell is detected when an iteration that contains non-estimated tasks is started. The presence of this smell may indicate that the development team is committed to a deadline without a good understanding of the effort to deliver the iteration scope.


Agile Methods: Understanding the effort necessary to developer all the features selected to a given iteration is a key success factor for all agile methods investigated. In the Planning Game practice proposed in XP, the developers should estimate the effort for implementing customer stories and customers then decide about timing and scope of the deliverables. Scrum proposes the Sprint Planning meeting where the developers discuss and scrutinize technical issues related to backlog to decide what features they are able to deliver after the next iteration. Similarly, Crystal methods define a planning meeting where the team decides the next increment of the system. In FDD, development is feature-oriented which includes the creation of a high-level plan where features are organized according to their priority. Before each iteration, customer and team decide together, based on the priority of the items and the team productivity, which features should be developed in the next iteration. In DSDM, the scope of an iteration is planned beforehand. Planning the cycles in ADS is part of the iterative process. ADS method also proposes Joint Application Development (JAD) sessions which are workshops where developers and customer representative discuss product features and decide the components that will be included in the next cycle. The Iteration Plan practice in OpenUp suggests planning an iteration in detail only when it is due to start. An iteration planning meeting should be held by the whole project team who decide the iteration scope.


Industry Perspective: All participants indicated - with different levels - that the agile smell is relevant. No additional comment was given.


Identification Strategy: A strategy to verify the occurrence of this agile smell is to check whether all the tasks selected to a given open iteration are estimated (have an effort estimated).


Parameters: No parameter was identified for the evaluation strategy.