Why are you estimating defects?

Regardless of popular sentiment, there is still a large number of organizations that are estimating their work. Lets put the validity of story-point estimating as a necessity aside – accept that, for now, there is some need that is felt to be filled by estimates. If you must estimate, please do not estimate your defects and include those in your velocity calculations.

I whole-heartedly believe that real defects should be corrected and removed as well as practices to reduce the introduction of defects be worked on. Defects do not create a safe environment for your users.

Back to defects - defects are not value creation. If you are going to estimate, I want to use that as a predictive measure of potential to delivery ideas that are there to create value. Additionally, support capacity, meetings, etc are not potential to create value so please do not estimate those. Organizations where I see defect estimating being done focus on the output of their product development – not the outcomes. They want to know people are busy.

What is the worst that would happen if you stop estimating defects? Your velocity will go down? Perfect, perhaps you were going too fast anyway. Senior management will get upset? Perfect, then perhaps there are other systematic items that need to be addressed.


As Jeff Patton (@jeffpatton) and David Hussman (@davidhussman) have said – We want to focus on outcomes, not outputs.