## DEV Community

Joe Mainwaring

Posted on • Updated on

# A Guide to Story Point Estimation

A story point is an arbitrary measure of effort required to implement a user story; it's a number that tells the team how hard the story is. “Hard” can be related to complexity, unknowns, and/or effort.

## Estimation Guidelines

• Story Point values are based on a Fibonacci sequence `(1,2,3,5,8,13,21,...)`
• Story point estimates should take into account technical complexity & effort to complete.
• Story point estimates should account for the total effort to reach `done`, not just `code complete`. Both `code review` and `QA testing` can take considerable time and should be accounted for.
• The lowest point value that can be assigned is 1, don't dabble in fractions of a story point.
• Stories with an estimate larger than 8 should be refined and broken into multiple stories.
• Time spent on different parts of the development process should be measured in hours & days.
• When in doubt about the value of a ticket, play conservatively and go with the higher value.

## Breakdown by Complexity

The table below is provided as a guideline for assessing story size by technical complexity.

Point Value Complexity Story Profile
1 None/Low Story is very narrow in scope or procedural in nature; requires little-to-no problem-solving skills. Low possibility that this story blocks other stories. Could be completed with relative ease by a new-hire.
2 Low Story has a small scope & may require some problem-solving or critical-thinking skills. Low possibility that this story blocks other stories. Can be completed with relative ease by junior-level engineer.
3 Low/Medium Story has a reasonable scope & requires some problem-solving skills by the engineer. Low possibility that this story blocks other stories. A junior-level who is knowledgeable in the feature should be capable of completing this story within a reasonable amount of time.
5 Medium Story scope has multiple conditions or states & requires a decent amount of problem solving to solution. Possibility that this story blocks work on other stories. Junior-level engineers may find this level of work challenging. Mid-level engineers who are knowledgeable in the feature should be capable of completing this story within a reasonable amount of time.
8 Medium/High Story scope is large or open ended (research spike) & requires significant problem solving skills to complete. Strong probability that this story blocks work on other stories. A mid-level engineer may find this level of work challenging. Senior-level engineers who are knowledgeable in the feature should be capable of completing this story within a reasonable amount of time.

## Breakdown by Time Spent

The table below is provided as a guideline of the total effort put forth during `Development`, `Code Review`, and `QA testing` for a given point value. Duration values are shared as uninterrupted/distraction-free time; time spent on a ticket may exceed the value shown due to switching context throughout a given sprint (meetings, shifting priorities, etc)

Point Value Example Development Code Review QA Testing
1 Making a text edit 2 Hours 1 Hour 1 Hour
2 Implement a default profile image 1/2 Day 1 Hour 2 Hours
3 Implement white-label branding for the header of a page 1 Day 1/2 Day Up to 3 hours, could include triggering specific items/tasks, etc.
5 Construct the entire Change Password View (UI Only) 2-3 Days 1 Day Up to a 1/2 day, could include various browsers, roles, and/or permissions, etc.
8 Items within a list are based on a set of permissions and feature flags (full stack) 5 days 1-2 Days At least 1 full day of testing, compilation of all of the above