How to estimate story points for sub-tasks?

Hi all,

I seem to have trouble estimating story points for sub-tasks during the sprint planning phase.
For some reason the input field for the story points is inactive and only the higher-level user story can be estimated.

I was hoping that resolving sub-tasks would then partially decrease the remaining story points but this is not the case.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Best
Ronny

6 answers

1 accepted

Accepted Answer
7 votes

Scrum doesn't dictate that sub-tasks are estimated in time (or even that you use sub-tasks as your "Sprint Plan," though lots of people do it and Greenhopper enables it). So in this instance, I think Greenhopper is over constraining people. There are plenty of Scrum teams that use "Estimation Points" or "Story Points" to estimate the sizes of sub-tasks as well.

You should not estimate story points for sub tasks. Story points as the name suggest are only for stories. An alternative for sub-tasks is to use the orig estimate field and estimate them in time, e.g. hours.

I haven't done it myself but I believe some do split the story points for a story between the sub-tasks thought the tool does not provide this.

I might have found the reason - I don't think our JIRA Admin has set my project to use the Scrum template and therefore I'm missing the correct issue types (story, epic, technical task).

I will add another comment if I can say anything for sure.

We've solved this: during the sprint, the team updates Story Points field on parent issue by asking "how much points are their remaining?" resulting in points reduction or increase. This makes the chart burn down though the issue is still in progress :)

Not sure if this is really the way to go though. Technically you're wasting time on estimation again.
And despite the waste, you're also back at 'guesstimating' progress.

I would recommend breaking stories down to a point where a five-point story can be accomplished in one day. And do not accept a story bigger than 8 into your sprint since it would take 2-3 days (most likely even longer) to finish it.

Dear Ronny,

Estimating remaining points of work in progress is not wasteful. It's typical and it's done as part of our daily standup meeting.

Our work items are broken down on sub-task level but since sub-tasks stories don't affect parents, this is the only work around possible. Greenhopper should fix this for us to match the behaviour of using time estimation instead of story points. In time estimation, the parent issue sums all of it's sub-tasks in addition to its own estimate which is perfect if it would be used with story points too.

Let's agree to disagree. I don't think there's much benefit to estimating progress (hours) on a particular story. The time of the daily stand up can be used more beneficial than that.

A story should be broken down small enough so the real progress is the completed story or break it down into tasks and then you see tasks moving across the workflow and that way you automatically have an indication of progress.

Believe me I hate this workaround but Greenhopper doesnt allow us to burn sub-tasks when they're done hence the workaround :)

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