Who Owns Project Estimation in an Agile World: the Sprint Teams or the PMO?

This has become the million dollar question in the industry over the last year or so - so much so that it was the topic of DCG's first annual debate.

Two members of the DCG management team took on the task of sitting at opposite ends of the table, David Herron arguing project estimation ownership should be the PMO's responsibility, Tom Cagley arguing for the team.

There were initial positions, rebuttals, and then more casual, point-to-point rebuttals, followed by a vote for the winner. As a member of the audience, it was all very exciting!! Add on the breakfast and prizes handed out to attendees, and it wasn't a bad way to start off the day.

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Here is a quick recap of the arguments made - my own paraphrasing.

Argument for the PMO side: The PMO has the responsibility of reporting project status to upper management and is typically held accountable for the project success; therefore, the PMO should be involved in the estimation.

Argument for the Team side: The team is responsible for completing the work and has the knowledge of the domain, what needs to be completed and how it needs to be done. Budgeting is the responsibility of the PMO and estimating is the responsibility of the team.

My personal opinion is that estimation is the responsibility of both the PMO and the team. The PMO should be responsible for providing the high-level estimate on projects, based on historical data. The team should be responsible for providing the detailed estimate based on their knowledge of the work to be completed, and again, on historical data.

So who won the debate? With the votes tallied, it actually ended in a tie!

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts as to who owns estimation, the PMO or Sprint Team; leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Michael D. Harris at 07:30
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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