Set of reference stories

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…multiple development teams working on a single product.

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Planning with predictability and sustainability creates trust and competitive advantage in the market.

Mike Cohn:

  • In a consulting firm I would absolutely want to strive to have a common baseline for story points.


  • establishing a common definition of a story point across multiple teams within an organization
    • helps estimation and planning in general and gives a common basis for capacity (given that teams, technology, processes and tools remain relatively stable);
    • clears up any confusion and suspicion of underachievement in the higher management layers;
    • allows consulting firms to create ‘SLAs’ based on empirical data rather than risky guesses;
    • may help to surface particularly bad environment/political issues on certain projects - “hey, why does it take 5 times as long to do a story point on this project?


  • some people strongly resist or reject estimation, let alone creating a common baseline for story points (e.g. orthodox Kanban adepts);
  • teams can be unfairly compared to one another;
  • estimating time (e.g. ideal days) is very dependent on individual skills and experience


Bring a broad group of individuals representing various development teams together; e.g. pairs of each development team. Have them estimate a dozen or so product backlog items (ideally in the form of real user stories); it will take some more time to reach consensus with a large group; e.g. two hours to estimate 12 items. Have each pair of estimators take back to their development teams the two handfuls of estimates and use them as a comparing reference for local estimates. Publish a set of agreed-upon user stories and their relative estimates.

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  • Using some artificial user stories as they’ll be more likely to be understandable by a broad set of consultants.
  • Any new story can be compared to any of the old ones so the original baseline become less important over time (as there are many more to compare to).

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Goalenable planning across multiple squads and tribes +
PearlDevelopment team +, Product backlog item +, User story +, Development teams + and Relative estimation +
SoMaintain a set of baselined reference stories used by all squads as a benchmark for estimation. +
ThemeAgile + and Scrum +
WishPlanning with predictability and sustainability creates trust and competitive advantage in the market. +