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Use "remaining time" estimates, deactivate "time spent"


I have been an agile coach for 15+ years, and in 90% of my projects in Germany we have the same Jira problem over and over again: Scrum teams want to estimate stories in SP, but tasks in hours (or other units of time). There is an original estimate and upated remaining time estimates. Currently, in order to use the corresponding out-of-the-box Jira feature, we are forced to activate time logging/tracking, too, which is an absolute no-go in most German companies, because each workers' council would refuse tracking time spent on an individual basis and simply forbid the company to use it, which is understandable (and anti agile, too). In other cases, there already is another, dedicated software outside of Jira for logging/tracking time spent for internal costing or invoicing clients. Of course, those companies fear duplication or "shadow book-keeping" and hence also deactivate the feature.

In agile teams, it often is helpful to track remaining time estimates without logging time spent. Especially for transitioning, yet immature agile teams not used to WIP limits and working on stories as a whole team, this is a way to track progress and generate a meaningful sprint burndown chart, if stories are closed late in the sprint and the story point burndown does not change in the first half of the sprint. I like to use the two types of burndowns (SP versus remaining time estimate) in order to discuss problems like multi-tasking, knowledge silos etc. in retrospectives to facilitate team discussions and stimulate change.

How can we use remaining time estimates without time logging? If we cannot deactivate the latter separately, can we at least hide the corresponding fields and buttons and spent time bars etc. from view/edit dialogues so as not to scare off the workers' council or make employees accidentally log their time there instead of simply updating the remaining time estimate?

1 answer

0 votes
Dave Mathijs Community Leader May 19, 2022

@kriegaex You can hide the Time tracking field from your screens. and use a custom number field instead for Remaining estimate.

Thanks for your reply, @Dave Mathijs. What do you mean by "hide"? Deactivate the whole time tracking feature including remaining estimate? That is the status quo already.

Are you suggesting to *not* use this built-in feature at all, but to create a redundant "remaining estimate" input field instead from scratch? That is not what I want, but in order to decide if it is a viable workaround, can you please elaborate? Can I use that custom field in order to generate a Sprint burndown? If so, how? Is any numeric or time-based field available in the "burndown diagram" drop-down automatically?

Dave Mathijs Community Leader May 23, 2022

You can use remaining estimate and ask users not to log any time on the issue.

When you have the Time tracking field visible (and editable) in the issue view, it will always display all fields, namely: original estimate, time spent and remaining estimate. You cannot hide the 'time spent' field and keep the 'remaining estimate' field because they belong together.

Tracking time spent is anti-agile, but tracking remaining estimated time is a common practice in many agile teams (even though somewhat out of fashion nowadays) since the advent of Scrum many years ago. I have never understood why Atlassian would tie those two together and kill use of remaining time estimates for thousands of professional teams due to legal reasons (must not activate time tracking).

Anyway, talking about the workaround to create an additional numeric field, I want to ask again: Can I use that custom field in order to generate a Sprint burndown? If so, how? Is any numeric or time-based field available in the "burndown diagram" drop-down automatically? I have no admin rights in my customer's Jira instance and cannot simply try by myself.

@Dave Mathijs, would you mind answering my remaining questions? Thanks you very much in advance. 

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