October 19, 2007
Distorted project velocity and skewed story points
How to increase project Velocity the wrong way? Just distort Story Point estimations to be more than what they really are. Story Points are not for that. And using Project Velocity as the only fixed goal may bring disastrous results.
Story Points represent a story’s complexity when compared to other stories. Yes, Story Points need comparison. Why? Because complexity it’s intimately related to the team’s technical capacity, gel, motivation, etc. Story points are not units of time, but people will, most invariably, relate the two. That’s not too bad as long it’s not used for the purpose of creating slack or artificially increasing velocity.
Agile teams should be aware of their estimations and should never allow intentional inflation of Story Points under the risk of creating a demotivated environment, not the mention that this will discredit the the team to managers and executives. If the team insists on this practice it's better go back to time units. At least it's real.