Agile PM Process Grid–3.10 Wideband Delphi


In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management. These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

The post for today deals with the consensus-based estimating method that is used in agile, but has its origin in the Delphi method that was originally created by the Rand Corporation.

In the original Delphi technique, a question was posed to a group of experts who gave their answers independently.    The answers were revealed, and it was seen whether a consensus developed from those answers or not; if nor, more rounds of the technique were used until such consensus was reached.

The “Wideband Delphi” is where a question is posed to the entire development team, which is where the word “Wideband” comes in.How is “Wideband Delphi” the same as the original Delphi technique, and how is it different?   Well, it is the same in that a question, or series of questions, is posed to a team of people, and each person on that team gives their independent answer to that question.

How is it different?   Well, first of all it is not an outside group of experts, but rather the development team that is being posed the questions.   And the questions involved in this case have to do with estimating the size of a series of user stories.

The team first asks the customer/proxy questions about assumptions, constraints, and risks associated with the project.   Then the team returns to their workspace and each member of the team creates an estimate of all of the user stories.

Again, like the original Delphi technique, the individual estimates are revealed, and then the team can further discuss the range of estimates to see if it can be narrowed.   Sometimes a round of silent voting is done until a consensus estimate is achieved for each user story.

The process concludes when the facilitator composes

  • the list of user stories
  • the consensus estimates for each user story
  • the assumptions for each user story
  • a list of subtasks associated with each user story

and the results are presented to the team and the customer/proxy.

Historically, the “Wideband Delphi” preceded the “Planning Poker” technique which is the subject of the next post.

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