What are Jira story points

Jira stands as a powerful tool for teams to organize, track, and execute tasks efficiently. Central to Agile methodologies is the concept of story points, a unit of measure used for estimating the relative size and complexity of user stories or tasks. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the significance of story points in Agile development, their uses, best practices, and address common questions to help you harness the full potential of Jira’s capabilities.

Understanding Jira Story Points:

1. What are Story Points?

Story points are a unit of measure used in Agile development to estimate the effort required to complete a user story or task. Unlike traditional time-based estimates, story points represent the relative complexity, effort, and uncertainty associated with a particular piece of work.

2. How are Story Points Assigned?

Story points are typically assigned during Agile estimation sessions, where the team collectively evaluates the size and complexity of each user story relative to a reference story, often called a “baseline” or “anchor” story. Common estimation techniques include Planning Poker, T-shirt sizing, and the Fibonacci sequence.

3. Why Use Story Points?

Story points offer several advantages over traditional time-based estimates:

  • Relative Estimation: Story points focus on the relative complexity of tasks rather than absolute time, allowing teams to prioritize and plan based on value and effort.
  • Flexibility: Story points accommodate uncertainty and variability inherent in software development, providing a more realistic and adaptable approach to planning.
  • Focus on Collaboration: Story point estimation encourages collaboration and discussion among team members, fostering shared understanding and alignment on project goals.

Utilizing Story Points in Jira:

1. Incorporating Story Points into Jira:

Jira provides built-in support for story points, allowing teams to assign and track story point estimates for user stories and tasks. Story points are typically associated with Agile boards and are used to gauge the team’s velocity and capacity.

2. Planning and Prioritization:

Story points enable teams to prioritize and plan their work effectively. By estimating the relative size of user stories, teams can identify dependencies, manage expectations, and allocate resources more efficiently.

3. Monitoring Progress and Iteration:

Jira’s reporting and tracking capabilities allow teams to monitor their progress over time and adapt their plans accordingly. Velocity charts, burndown charts, and cumulative flow diagrams provide insights into the team’s performance and help identify areas for improvement.

Best Practices for Using Story Points:

1. Establish Consistent Estimation Criteria:

Define clear criteria for assigning story points to ensure consistency and accuracy in estimation. Consider factors such as complexity, effort, risk, and uncertainty when evaluating user stories.

2. Regularly Review and Refine Estimates:

Story point estimates should be revisited and refined regularly to reflect changes in scope, knowledge, or team composition. Continuous refinement helps maintain the accuracy and relevance of estimates over time.

3. Embrace Uncertainty and Iteration:

Acknowledge and embrace the inherent uncertainty and variability in software development. Story points provide a framework for managing uncertainty and iterating on plans based on real-world feedback and experience.

How to use story points in jira

Using story points in Jira is straightforward and can greatly enhance your Agile project management process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Define your Scale: Before you start using story points, it’s essential to establish a scale for estimating the complexity of tasks. Common scales include the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.) or t-shirt sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL).
  2. Enable Story Points: Ensure that story points are enabled for your Jira project. You can do this by accessing the project settings and enabling the “Estimation” feature.
  3. Estimate User Stories: In your backlog or during sprint planning, assign story points to user stories based on their relative complexity. Use your predefined scale to assign points to each story.
  4. Track Story Points: As you progress through the sprint, track the completion of user stories and their associated story points. Update the status of each story accordingly.
  5. Calculate Velocity: At the end of each sprint, calculate the team’s velocity by summing up the story points completed during the sprint. Velocity represents the average amount of work the team can complete in a sprint.
  6. Use Velocity for Planning: Use the team’s velocity as a guide for future sprint planning. Estimate the number of story points the team can commit to in upcoming sprints based on their historical velocity.
  7. Refine Estimates: Regularly review and refine story point estimates based on new information, feedback, and changes in team dynamics. Continuous refinement ensures that estimates remain accurate and reflective of the team’s capabilities.

By following these steps, you can effectively use story points in Jira to prioritize tasks, plan sprints, and track progress in your Agile projects. Remember to foster collaboration and communication within your team to ensure that everyone is aligned on the meaning and use of story points.

How to assign story points in jira

Assigning story points in Jira is a fundamental aspect of Agile project management. Here’s a simple guide on how to do it:

  1. Navigate to Your Board: Log in to your Jira instance and navigate to the Agile board associated with your project.
  2. Access the Backlog: Click on the “Backlog” or “Active Sprints” tab, depending on where you want to assign story points (usually, it’s done during backlog grooming or sprint planning).
  3. Select a User Story: Identify the user story or task to which you want to assign story points. Click on the user story to open its details.
  4. Edit the Issue: Once the user story is open, locate the “Estimation” field. This is where you’ll assign story points.
  5. Assign Story Points: In the “Estimation” field, enter the appropriate number of story points based on the complexity and effort required to complete the user story. Use your predefined scale (e.g., Fibonacci sequence or t-shirt sizes) to select the appropriate value.
  6. Save Changes: After assigning story points, save your changes. The story points will now be associated with the user story and visible to your team on the Agile board.
  7. Repeat as Necessary: Continue assigning story points to other user stories in your backlog or sprint as needed.

FAQs about Jira Story Points:

Q1: How do story points differ from time-based estimates?

Story points measure the relative complexity and effort of tasks, while time-based estimates focus on the absolute time required to complete them. Story points provide a more flexible and adaptable approach to estimation, accommodating uncertainty and variability in software development.

Q2: Can story points be converted to hours or days?

While story points are not directly convertible to hours or days, teams may use historical data and velocity metrics to derive approximate time estimates for planning purposes. However, it’s important to remember that story points represent relative effort, not absolute time.

Q3: How do story points affect project planning and scheduling?

Story points inform project planning and scheduling by helping teams prioritize and allocate resources based on the relative complexity of tasks. By estimating the effort required for each user story, teams can create realistic plans and adapt them as needed throughout the project lifecycle.

External Resources and Further Reading:

  1. Atlassian Documentation – Estimating in Story Points
  2. Scrum Alliance – Story Points Demystified


Jira story points serve as a valuable tool for Agile teams to estimate, plan, and track their work effectively. By embracing the relative nature of story point estimation and leveraging Jira’s capabilities, teams can prioritize tasks, manage expectations, and adapt their plans based on real-world feedback and experience. By following best practices and fostering collaboration, teams can harness the full potential of story points to deliver value and drive success in their projects.

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