Tuesday, June 3, 2014

About the definition of #NoEstimates

I’m writing this blog post because I see too much confusion in what #NoEstimates actually means. I believe that if we could get rid of the unnecessary waste around this topic, we as a software development community could get much more out of it.

The definition

Although Woody Zuill defined the #NoEstimates already over a year ago, it hasn't been widely used since. Nevertheless, I like his definition:

"#NoEstimates is a hashtag for the topic of exploring alternatives to estimates for making decisions in software development. That is, ways to make decisions with 'No Estimates'."

The core of the definition is that #NoEstimates really is just a hashtag. Let me clarify more what this definition means in my opinion.

What it is not

  • #NoEstimates is not any method, tool, or process that you can directly apply.
  • #NoEstimates is not a “follow these 10 steps and you will be doing it properly”.
  • #NoEstimates is not estimates related discussion in every possible context. For example it’s not discussion about estimating who will win the World Cup in Brazil or how long a trip from Helsinki to Brazil would take.

What it is

  • #NoEstimates is one approach to the Agile Manifesto first sentence: "We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it."
  • #NoEstimates is discussion about software development cost estimates, what is wrong or right with them, and especially: what alternatives to estimates there are for making decisions in software development (see Woody's definition).
  • #NoEstimates is a wake-up for many developers and hopefully in the future for many more managers and business owners that estimates are not always needed.

Who are the proponents?

#NoEstimates proponents are those who feel that there is a need to seek alternatives to cost estimates in software development decision making.

Who are the opponents?

Since #NoEstimates is about seeking alternatives to estimates, opponents of it are those who either don't believe that better alternatives exist or for some reason are not willing to look for them. If you challenge someone's suggestion for an alternative, that doesn't make you an opponent, you are just taking part of the discussion. Obviously if you decide to stay out of the discussion, that doesn’t make you an opponent.

(I updated the opponents section Jun 4, 2014.)

The essence

The essence of #NoEstimates is in those stories that tell about the alternatives. Like:

(Please propose a link, I can add it to this list.)

You can breath now

For those who find #NoEstimates frustrating, I’m hoping that you can breath better from now on. This is just a hashtag and it will never give you all the possible answers to your estimates related questions and problems. But if you are open-minded and willing to search for something better, there is a big and smart community available to help you.


  1. for: #NoEstimates is not estimates related discussion in any possible context
    I think you want "every" instead of "any"

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