Navigating the Agile Estimation Dilemma: #NoEstimates vs. #BetterEstimates

Welcome to PremierAgile!

Recognized for 'Outstanding Leadership in Education and Learning' by the Education 2.0 Conference Dubai 2024

We are proudly recognized for Excellence in Agile Consulting and Transformation Services – 2023 by Economic Times and Times of India!

*Avail a Flat 10% Discount Across all our certification courses use coupon code AGILE10

*Avail Zero Interest EMI

We Offer World-class guidance to transform yourself as well as your organizations

Mega Offer! Access our Advanced courses for  just 21,999/- +Taxes


With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc...

Say “NO” to Efforts Estimation: The #NoEstimates Movement in Agile

Say “NO” to Efforts Estimation: The #NoEstimates Movement in Agile

The Agile community is buzzing with heated debates between hashtags #BetterEstimates and #NoEstimates. The estimation process is essential as it directly impacts the project planning and resource allocation activities. The dialogue revolves around the age-old question: To estimate efforts or not to estimate? This blog aims to dissect the ongoing debate and find the best answer for Agile Leaders and Teams. So, let’s get started!

Efforts Estimation At The Project Level:

Before we dive into the #NoEstimates movement, it's crucial to understand the traditional approach of Agile Estimation. In the Agile framework, Estimation is necessary for Sprint Planning. Developers are responsible for estimating the efforts of User Stories and technical tasks. 

But Efforts Estimation is more than just guesswork! Developers often rely on various techniques to accurately estimate effort. The process helps Agile Teams to forecast timelines for completing Sprint Objectives effectively. 

1. The #BetterEstimates Way:

The #BetterEstimates practitioners advocate the importance of estimation in Agile Planning. Its rationale is that accurate estimates contribute to better decision-making, risk management, and resource allocation. 

For example, organizations perform project-level estimates to choose between potential projects. They allocate more resources to projects with demanding deadlines. This high-level estimation enables businesses to decide how to execute projects!

However, as we explore the alternative perspective, we must acknowledge that estimation does not fit all Agile Projects.

2. The #NoEstimates Way:

The #NoEstimates movement emerges as a revolutionary force challenging traditional Agile practices. Agile, often synonymous with Scrum, is witnessing a paradigm shift. #NoEstimates proposes an alternative perspective that advocates a leaner and more adaptable approach to project management.

This new approach uses the same Agile maxim in another way. Since we don’t know when to stop, it asks why we are still estimating. For the most part, the Agile Leader does the estimation to minimize the development risks. They seek the best solution to help the Agile Developers complete the development within the deadline.

#NoEstimates exchanges the uncertainty and inaccuracy of project-level estimates with effective Agile practices that deliver value as early as possible. After a few iterations, it helps Agile teams find a much better way to prepare for future iterations. So, teams stop working on project deliverables that are no longer necessary!

What If I Have to Estimate? Bridging The Gap

The #BetterEstimates way seeks a middle ground between traditional estimation practices and #NoEstimates. Let’s explore the best efforts estimation approaches for Project Managers today:

1. User Story Slicing:

The essence of user story slicing is breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable components. This practice enhances understanding and facilitates more accurate estimation. Agile leaders and Scrum Masters increasingly turn to story-slicing to bridge the gap between opposing movements.

2. Planning Poker:

While the #NoEstimates movement gains momentum, the reality is that specific projects necessitate estimation. Enter Planning Poker, a collaborative estimation technique gaining popularity among Agile teams. PremierAgile explores this technique in-depth in its blog on Planning Poker. Learn more about it from the blog for a deep understanding of this method. Indeed, you will see how it ensures transparency, inclusivity, and accuracy in estimating Agile Projects. You can even estimate using a tool built-in on PremierAgile website at

3. Managing Backlogs:

Efficient management of the Product Backlog is pivotal in Agile projects. Certified Scrum Product Owners (CSPOs) are crucial in prioritizing backlog items based on business value. This strategic approach contributes to more accurate estimations, marrying the essence of #BetterEstimates with Agile values.

4. Measuring Impact:

Estimation is not merely about predicting timelines; it's about understanding the impact of each task on the overall project. Agile practitioners are adopting techniques to measure this impact, ensuring that estimations are informed decisions considering each task's complexity and consequences.

Is #NoEstimates The Future Of Agile?

The nine-year-old # NoEstimates movement shows no signs of losing relevance. Duarte anticipates a sustained discourse on the topic, highlighting the enduring importance of its principles. The movement extends beyond a mere hashtag. It touches on profound questions about project management's future and software development's fundamental purpose.

Duarte contends that software that creates high-return solutions should use #NoEstimates. Agile methodology still needs to expand the implications of this approach. However, they resonate with broader societal considerations. So, persisting with outdated project-based management strategies poses risks to society. 

Therefore, the movement represents more than an Agile shift! It signifies a social change in how the IT world views work, priorities, and its impact on civilization. The conversation sparked by #NoEstimates in the early 2000s remains as relevant and crucial today as ever.

Summing Up: Blending In With The Right Method

Adaptability is critical for an Agile Beginner or an Agile Practitioner. Agilists must navigate the dynamic terrain of project management. A blend of #BetterEstimates and #NoEstimates can offer a holistic approach.

Whether top-down or bottom-up, the Agile journey remains a continuous learning pathway for future adaptation. As the #NoEstimates movement gains momentum, organizations must engage their teams in Agile Workshops and Coaching.

It will create a future where saying "NO" to efforts estimation is not a rebellion but a strategic choice rooted in Agile Principles!




Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.