Estimating User Story Points is a Waste of Time

Wise software teams spend time on activities that really matter: Test Automation and Continuous Testing

Zhimin Zhan
8 min readSep 23, 2021

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My article “Estimating Test Automation Story Points is a Total Waste of Time” featured in Software Testing Weekly has received positive feedback. One of the common questions from the readers is: “how about estimating user story points?” My answer: “It is a waste of time mostly. Try to avoid it as much as possible.

A tweet by Venkat Subramaniam, founder of Agile Developer

The renowned experts’ view on “Story Points”

I know, many people will be surprised by my view and may even get offended. After all, many so-called “agile metrics” are based on story points, such as velocity charts and all the planning (based on estimates). As some people might think my view is radical, I need to borrow a few credits from the world’s top agile authorities, including Ron Jeffries, the creator of “Story Points”, to convince them.

  1. bloody mistake” — Ron Jeffries, co-author of Agile Manifesto and the creator of “Story Points”

2. “worrying about velocity or capacity is waste” — Ken Schwaber, creator of Scrum and co-author of Agile Manifesto.

From the above tweet, the Scrum creator does not like ‘story points’ either. Ken explained more in his article.

“ we spend worrying about velocity or capacity is waste, not adding a whit of value.”
- Ken Schwaber, 2012–05–25

3. “Velocity is Killing Agility!” — Jim Highsmith, co-author of Agile Manifesto.

“they are often maniacal about measuring velocity — team velocity, velocity across teams, rolling up velocity to an organizational level or even velocity per developer (yuck). Velocity is thereby killing agility.”
- Jim Highsmith, 2011–11–02

4. “Usually estimates end up being actively harmful” — Martin Fowler

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Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.