Planning & Estimation

Planning Poker® - The reason behind the Fibonacci sequence

by Pete R.

The team members are supposed to estimate the size of a user story when estimating the size of user stories in agile software development. The estimate series are required to resemble the Fibonacci sequence. The reason why one has to use the Fibonacci sequence is that it reflects the inherent uncertainty when one estimates larger items.

Exponential Estimation Scale

Now, the Fibonacci series is an example of an exponential estimation scale. Its use comes down to Information Theory. When we obtain the information out of estimation, it grows at a much slower rate as compared to the precision of the estimate. We can, in fact, say that it becomes a logarithmic function and is the reason behind the higher uncertainty which comes with more substantial items.

Normalization

It is difficult to determine the most optimal base for the exponential scale (also known as normalization) as per practice. The base which corresponds to the Fibonacci scale might be optimal, but it isn’t always the case.

Understanding the Fibonacci Series

It is vital for you to understand the Fibonacci series. Four of the first six numbers of the Fibonacci sequence are prime numbers. Hence, it limits the number of possibilities to break down a task into equal smaller tasks which multiple people can work on parallel.

It would lead to one having a misconception that the speed of a task would scale proportionally with the number of members who are working on the job. One of the most vulnerable to such a problem is the 2^n series. When you use the Fibonacci sequence, it forces you to re-estimate one by one, the smaller tasks.

Why you should Use the Fibonacci Series?

There are various reasons why one should use the Fibonacci Series as explained below.

  • It helps to estimate the task into the number of hours for the team member who is supposed to complete it.
  • Enables you to handle tasks as they get more extensive due to the details as they become more challenging to understand.
  • As the team members would not have the same amount of experience with working on a particular task, it would only add to the uncertainty.
  • Typically, we experience fatigue over handling larger and much more complex tasks. A task which is twice as complex would require double time for a computer to complete, it might take a much longer for a person to complete or develop it.

Use Fibonacci Series

As we do more tasks, it only adds up to the uncertainty which would be hard to manage, and that is why one has to use the Fibonacci Series to gauge the complexities of managing a more enormous task.

Due to all these benefits, when you use Fibonacci Series, it will become easier for you to handle the tasks and for the team to work more effectively as a whole and break up tasks into much smaller same tasks which will be easier to complete.


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