The Ultimate Agile Anti Pattern - Do My Requirements Look Big In This

While researching for my estimation talk at the .NET User Groups in Sydney and Canberra I kept being reminded of the same ritual that keeps occurring in most Agile teams time and time again. It occurs so often and is so pervasive that people have almost accepted it as “the way it is”.

The ritual (maybe game is the right word) begins fairly innocently when a person representing the business approaches development with an idea for a project in the form of some requirements and asks the age old question “how long?” or “how much?”.

The Agile team feverishly break down the requirements into a backlog and pours over them to create an estimate. This might be ok if the business used this for what it is, a rough approximation, but this is rarely the case. This estimate will then be used time and time again as a comparison to the progress of the team and the team will often find itself having to justify the gap between work completed and the original estimate.

The outcome of this ritual is that the business feels angry that development lied to them or they haven’t been working hard enough and development feel guilty that they did not live up to the expectations and let the business down. Both parties walk away with a bad feeling about the whole process.

How do you think this affects future interactions between the two parties?

This ritual or game I refer to as the Do My Requirements Look Big In This anti pattern because of its similarity with the age old question put to boyfriends and husbands throughout the world And we’ve all tried answering that before and we all know it usually doesn’t end well, especially the more honest you are.

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