Should we re-estimate stories at sprint planning based on better understanding of how to implement a solution?

Estimates should be based on the relative size of the story.  E.g. If our story is to do a 1000pc jigsaw puzzle and we have estimated it as an 8 point story.   The story takes us 6 hours to complete.  We break up the puzzle and put it back in the box.

We are then asked to do the exact same puzzle again as a new story.  We have just done it, so we know the difficult bits, we have fresh knowledge and recent experience, it is highly likely We’d complete the story in much less time.  But the story is identical, We still have to do the same puzzle. Last time it was an 8 point story, this time it is still an 8 point story.jigsaw

In other words our experience changes our ability to complete the story it doesn’t change the relative size of the story. We estimate using relative size because we don’t know who will be doing the story or when it will be done. 

Hopefully we learn and get better, equally it is likely a more experienced or senior developers will complete stories quicker, but none of this changes the relative size of the story.

Story point estimates are to offer the ability to forecast, they are accurate in that context and over the long-term only,  Think of stories like rolling a dice.  A three point story is like rolling a dice 3 times and totalling the results, an 8 point story is like rolling a dice 8 times and totalling the results.  Sometimes a 3 point story will take longer than a 5 point story.  But in the long run the average will be 3.5 per roll.

I could never guarantee the next roll of the dice will result in a value of 3.5 but what we can offer probability not predictability over a longer period, by the time you roll the dice (take the story into sprint planning) the story points offer no value or interest to the development team. The forecasting value is gone. The story will take as long as the story takes, we must trust the team to do their job.

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