This Scrum Team Costs WHAT? -- Cartoon -- April 30, 2007

Welcome back to another week at
A few weeks ago I presented a CSM Workshop with Mark Pushinsky (another great Certified Scrum Trainer!). One of the things we continually get asked about during the two-day session is regarding budgeting. We will be adding a module on this in the future; however, after talking about it quite a bit, it comes down to trying to keep things extremely simple.

And, it works.

So, here is a quick lesson on budgeting on a Scrum Project.

And no, you do not need any super computers or fancy software models.

Got an abacus?

Good enough!

Remember if you will the idea of the iron triangle. If you are not familiar with this concept, please visit the link and come back. I will wait for you!

Welcome back (smile).

In Scrum, your timeline is fixed (either called a Sprint or Iteration). For the purposes of this example let’s state the Sprint length is the classic 4 weeks.

In Scrum, you have pretty fixed resources (some people call them people, and not resources [I agree!]). For the purposes of this example let’s say you have 10 people on the team. And, again, for the sake of easier math (on me right now!), let’s say the bill rate is 100.00 per hour per team member.

So here comes the budgeting!

Take your team members ($1,000.00 per hour (wow!)) and multiply it by 8 hours ($8,000.00 per day ) * 20 billable days = $160,000.00 per Sprint.

If your project involves a lot of infrastructure or software licenses or bla bla bla… count that in now.

However…. there… you have the burn rate for the team. About forty grand a week.

And. This is pretty accurate.

Within 3-5% on a personal basis. At the END of real projects.

Keep it that simple.


And then.

DO NOT fall for the trap of starting to associate the burn rate with story points.

“Why not Mike,” you may be asking yourself?

Well… think about the classic “result” that managers (Chickens) try to associate in their minds….

“Let’s see. Doing the math, we can get 3.47 points per person per Sprint. Let’s ADD people to get that number up to 4 points per Sprint and I will look like the hero!”

Warning lights and loud sounds should go off in your head if you start hearing this silly reasoning.


Because, as we ALL know (Pigs)….

Adding people to projects (especially ones that are “in trouble” never helps — especially in the short term. In fact, this is usually a major drain on the current team and the velocity starts trending downward.


Unfortunately, I have seen this false reasoning applied time and time again. Even after coaching managers (Chickens) who really do know better.

Gotta run…

Please send comments, questions, criticisms, ideas, or whatever here.

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Originally Published:
April 30, 2007
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