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Jirat Pasuksmit, Patanamon Thongtanunam, Shanika Karunasekera

The International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME)

Effort estimation is an integral part of activities planning in Agile iterative development. An Agile team estimates the effort of a task based on the available information which is usually conveyed through documentation. However, as documentation has a lower priority in Agile, little is known about how documentation effort can be optimized while achieving accurate estimation. Hence, to help practitioners achieve just-enough documentation for effort estimation, we investigated the different types of documented information that practitioners considered useful for effort estimation. We conducted a survey study with 121 Agile practitioners across 25 countries. Our survey results showed that (1) despite the lower priority of documentation in Agile practices, 98% of the respondents considered documented information moderately to extremely important when estimating effort, (2) 73% of them reported that they would re-estimate a task when the documented information was changed, and (3) functional requirements, user stories, definition of done, UI wireframes, and acceptance criteria were ranked as the most useful types of documented information for effort estimation. Nevertheless, many respondents reported that these useful types of documented information were occasionally changing or missing. Based on our study results, we provide recommendations for agile practitioners on how effort estimation can be improved by focusing on just-enough and just-in-time documentation.