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Understanding Estimate, Effort, Done, and To Do

This feature is available in all editions.


Once stories have been adequately detailed and organized, they can be estimated. The story estimate is a quick, rough sizing that drives release and sprint planning. It is the value that is used to calculate the project team's velocity.

How does Agile define Estimates?

Agile defines estimation on two levels:

  • Feature-level Estimate - Used to drive release planning and sprint scheduling

  • Work-level Estimate - Used to allocate work across team members

In addition, different methodologies call for some differences in what's tracked. Generally, there are two numeric values that can be used in tracking:

  • Work Effort - How much time was spent

  • Remaining To Do - Best estimate of how much work effort remains to complete

Here's how Estimates work in Agility...

These attributes are used within Agility and map to the agile process values.

  • Estimate (also called a Backlog Item or Requirement) - Feature-level estimate and is used in velocity calculations, scope values, and feature- level burndowns.

  • Planned Estimate - a copy of the initial value entered in the Estimate field; not used in reporting or rollups.

  • Detail Estimate - Work-Level Estimate that can be defined at the feature, task, or test level. It is used to allocate work to various team members.

  • Effort - Incremental entry of the work effort, typically entered daily.

Effort Tracking must be enabled to make the Effort fields available.

Done - accumulation of work effort over time for a task, test, feature or rolled up within a project

To Do - the Remaining To Do estimate as of the last update

Product/Release Planning

Sprint Planning

Sprint Tracking

  • Estimate - user-entered feature level estimate for a backlog item, defect, or testset
  • Planned Estimate - defaults to the initial Estimate value but can be user-entered; used to calculate Estimate Accuracy
  • Detail Estimate - user-entered work level estimate for a task or test when tracking at that level; work level estimate for a backlog item, defect, or testset when tracking at that level
  • ToDo - defaults to initial Detail Estimate but can be user-entered
  • Effort - user-entered incremental work effort since last update
  • Done - system-calculated effort total
  • ToDo - user-entered estimate of remaining work; system calculated totals are available as additional attributes.