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What is Swag?

This feature is available in Enterprise and Ultimate editions.

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Scientific Wild A$$ Guess

Swag stands for Scientific Wild Ass Guess, and is a slang word meaning a rough estimate from an expert in the field, based on his/her experience and intuition.  A Scientific Wild Ass Guess is more precise than a Wild Ass Guess, since Swag is estimated by an expert. Another popular name used for such a high level estimate is ROM (Rough Order of Magnitude), which also gives a nice description of the purpose and level of accuracy of such an estimate. 

In the Agile world, Swag is to portfolio items what story points are to backlog items.  Swag provides a way to compare the size, time, and effort that it will take to complete a set of features without going through detailed backlog estimating activities.

Is Swag the same unit of measure as Estimate?

It can be, but it doesn't have to be. There are advantages to each method.

Swag as same UOM as Estimate

If Swag and Estimates are both using the same units, you can quickly compare the two numbers throughout the planning process to identify cases where the original high level estimates are falling out of line with the true size once detail has been elaborated. This includes roll ups in the Portfolio Tree view, Portfolio Item Scorecards, and the Portfolio Item Burn-Up panel on the Dashboards in Analytics. 

Swag as different UOM from Estimate

Swag does not have to be the same unit as your backlog item estimate. In fact, it's easier to use a higher level unit for Swag as a constant reminder that it is even less precise (though not necessarily less accurate). A unit such as Team Weeks or Ideal Months can help the organization generate a rough estimate (which is what a Swag is intended to be) more quickly by freeing it from the burden of trying to generate too much detail in support of a more granular estimate. If you are in an organization that tends to get paralyzed by analysis, it could be very advantageous to use a higher level unit for your Swag.

How do I choose a Swag value for a portfolio item?

Similar to estimating backlog items, you estimate portfolio item using SWAG.  To get started, choose a typical portfolio item as your baseline and assign a nice round number to it.  Perhaps you give your typical portfolio item a Swag of 10.  Then, a portfolio item that is twice as complex might get a Swag of 20.  A portfolio item that is very small might get a Swag of 1.  Over time, you'll get better at assigning a Swag that is relative to your baseline.

What if I don't want to use Swag?

Portfolio Items include fields for Risk and Value.  You can use the Risk and Value fields to estimate portfolio items instead of Swag.  If you prefer to use backlog item Estimate Rollups as portfolio item size indicators, you can hide the portfolio item estimating fields in your project workspace

In Release Scheduling, the release details hide Swag, Risk or Value summaries if they are not used, and show backlog item estimate rollups instead.