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story point (story points)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
This definition is part of our Essential Guide: IT project evaluation and portfolio management guide for CIOs

A story point is a metric used in agile project management and development to determine (or estimate) the difficulty of implementing a given story

In this context, a story is a particular business need assigned to the software development team. Using estimations of story points rather than time allows development teams to be less precise. It may be difficult, for example, to estimate how long a particular feature will take to develop but relatively easy to understand if it is more complex than others, in which case it should be assigned more story points. 

 Elements considered in assigning a story point include the complexity of the story, the number of unknown factors and the potential effort required to implement it. Story points are usually expressed according to a numerical range, such as an adaptation of a Fibonacci sequence, or according to a size range from X-S (extra-small) to X-L (extra large). 

See a video introduction to story points:

This was last updated in April 2015

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Story point have been a big part of agile development, but many projects are now finding the idea obsolete.  When you start putting numbers on things that are abstract, you eventually start to have people try to control projects by gaming them.

Pointing is really meant to help understand complexity (in a relative way.) and nothing more than that.
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