Story Points (SP)

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Effort Points, Complexity Points, Agile Points


What are Story Points?

Story Points are a common unit of measure used in Agile project management and development, specifically in Scrum methodologies. They are used to estimate the effort, complexity, and risk involved in implementing a given user story, which is a small, manageable piece of work.

Understanding Story Points

Unlike traditional project estimation techniques, Story Points do not correspond to a fixed amount of work or time. Instead, they are relative measures that allow teams to compare the difficulty of different tasks. This approach encourages a more flexible, adaptive planning process that can better accommodate changes and uncertainties.

How to Estimate Story Points

Estimating Story Points is a collaborative process involving the entire team. Many teams use a technique called Planning Poker, where each team member provides their estimate, and then the team discusses the reasons for their estimates to reach a consensus.

Benefits of Using Story Points

Using Story Points can help teams improve their planning and forecasting accuracy over time. By comparing their estimates with the actual effort required to complete tasks, teams can refine their estimation skills and better predict their work capacity in future sprints.

Usage Examples

1. During a sprint planning meeting, a software development team uses Story Points to estimate the effort required for each user story in their backlog. This helps them decide how many stories they can commit to in the next sprint.

2. A team reviews their past sprints and finds that they consistently overestimate the number of Story Points they can complete. They use this information to adjust their future sprint plans, improving their predictability and reliability.

3. A product owner uses Story Points to prioritize the product backlog. They consider not only the business value of each story but also its estimated effort, as represented by Story Points.

Historical Context

The concept of Story Points originated in the Agile community as a response to the limitations of traditional project estimation techniques. They were introduced as a more flexible, relative measure of effort that could better accommodate the iterative, incremental nature of Agile methodologies.


  • Story Points are not equivalent to hours or days of work. They are a relative measure of effort, not an absolute measure of time.
  • Story Points do not only represent the amount of work to be done. They also factor in the complexity and risk of the task.
  • The same number of Story Points does not necessarily mean the same amount of work across different teams. Each team has its own baseline for estimating Story Points.


  • Story Points vs. Hours: While hours represent an absolute measure of time, Story Points are a relative measure of effort. They are more flexible and better suited to the adaptive, iterative nature of Agile methodologies.
  • Story Points vs. Task Count: Counting tasks does not take into account the size or complexity of the tasks. Story Points provide a more nuanced view of the workload.

Related Concepts

  • User Story
  • Sprint
  • Backlog
  • Planning Poker
  • Velocity
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