Micro Estimates: Enhancing Predictability in Software Development

  • by Amando Abreu
  • on 15 April 2023


In the world of software development, predicting the time and resources required for various tasks has always been a challenge. One popular trend in recent years has been the “no estimates” movement, which aims to streamline the development process by eliminating the need for lengthy and often inaccurate estimates. However, the “no estimates” approach does not entirely discard estimation; rather, it shifts towards “micro estimates”, breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks. In this article, we will explore the micro estimates methodology, its impact on planning, and how it enhances predictability in software development projects.

Micro Estimates: A Closer Look

The micro estimates methodology is based on the principle of decomposing tasks into maximum 2-day long runs of development. This approach encourages developers to focus on smaller, more manageable pieces of work, which can be accomplished in a short timeframe. By breaking tasks down into such small increments, the overall process becomes more transparent and predictable, allowing teams to adapt and adjust as needed.

Comparison with No Estimates

While the “no estimates” trend aims to reduce the time spent on estimating tasks, it still incorporates some degree of estimation. The key difference is the granularity of the estimates. Instead of providing high-level, rough estimates for entire projects or features, the no estimates approach utilizes micro estimates to establish more accurate, short-term goals. This enables teams to adjust their plans quickly, reducing the risks associated with large-scale development.

Impact on Planning

Micro estimates have a significant impact on planning in software development. Some key benefits include:

  1. Improved Accuracy: By focusing on smaller tasks with a maximum duration of 2 days, micro estimates provide more accurate timeframes for completion. This leads to better planning and resource allocation, reducing the likelihood of over- or under-estimating the time required for a particular task.
  2. Enhanced Flexibility: With micro estimates, teams can easily adapt their plans as new information becomes available or priorities shift. This flexibility is crucial for agile development and allows teams to stay on track despite changing circumstances.
  3. Reduced Risk: The shorter timeframes associated with micro estimates reduce the risks associated with larger, more complex tasks. By breaking tasks down into smaller components, developers can identify and address issues more quickly, minimizing the potential for delays and cost overruns.
  4. Increased Transparency: By breaking tasks down into smaller increments, micro estimates provide greater visibility into the development process. This transparency enables team members to better understand their individual responsibilities and track progress more effectively, ultimately leading to a more collaborative and efficient development process.


The micro estimates methodology offers a more predictable and adaptable approach to software development. By breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable pieces, teams can improve the accuracy of their estimates, enhance flexibility, reduce risks, and increase transparency throughout the development process. While the no estimates trend may seem appealing, it is essential to recognize that it still relies on a form of estimation: micro estimates. By embracing this approach, software development teams can better manage their projects, ultimately leading to more successful outcomes.

About the author

Amando Abreu is a serial entrepreneur, Fractional CTO, and engineer who has been involved in several startups and launched dozens of products. He has worked with companies such as trivago, Portugal Telecom, and Vizrt. He has experience in several industries, most notably e-commerce, SaaS, media, travel, insurance, property development, and construction.
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