Affinity Estimation for Release Planning

Affinity Estimating is a technique many Agile teams use to quickly and easily estimate a large number of user stories in story points. This is a great technique if you’re just starting a project and have a backlog that hasn’t been estimated yet, or in preparation for release planning.

affinity estimation for release planning


  • Product Owner
  • Delivery Team
  • ScrumMaster to facilitate

Step by step instructions about how to do this exercise can be found on Chris Sterling’s blog.


From experience, we have found that you need the following to setup to do the exercise correctly:

  • Stories should be printed on large stickies. The font should be large enough to be readable from 3 feet away – as large as possible to fit on the sticky. This eliminates a lot of handwriting guesswork.
  • Present a set of reference stories the team has done in the past, i.e. good examples of a point 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc. stories.
  • The more stories to estimate, the larger the space is needed to do the exercise. So you will need to find either a long “sticky-able” wall, a continuous glass wall/windows, or a very very long whiteboard.

How long will this exercise take?

For a large project with two teams, we had about 400 stories and completed the estimation in 4 hours.

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