The non-rigid nature of Agile makes it the best framework for businesses. When a business uses this framework and uses the core of the framework completely, it can ensure the utmost output. When the core of Agile is used, an organization can customize it with ease to suit its needs. An ideal example is the Agile Estimation. Let us consider that a business sets an entire product using an Agile estimation technique. When this happens, the business can easily complete the product.

Most organizations that follow Agile engage in estimation. However, they use varied estimation methodologies. With the best Agile estimation technique, an organization can easily break its intricate products into tiny parts. Above all, when the organization records the estimations, it can evaluate the speed and output of any team. In turn, the organization can create release plans better. 

When talking about Agile Estimation methodologies, different techniques exist. Examples include t-shirt sizing, bucket system, story points, dot voting and affinity mapping. In this post, you can gather more information about T Shirt sizing Agile estimation technique.

T-Shirt Sizing – An Introduction

T Shirt sizing in Agile is a project estimation technique. It is also a capacity planning tool. The purpose of this tool is to help organizations track how much effort and time a task will take. To get these values, you will have to assign each task or project to the t-shirt sizes. You might be aware that t-shirts come in different sizes starting from Extra Small to XXL and even XXXL.

You should give these values based on the relative effort a task needs. Based on how you choose to use the tool, t shirt size estimation Agile

can be used to denote:

  • The possibility of a task
  • The effort required
  • How complex the project or task is?
  • How many work hours will it need daily?
  • How long will it take to complete the task?

T-Shirt sizing technique can help an entire Agile team including:

  • Team members – They can understand who is doing what and when
  • Individual contributors – They can communicate their priorities and bandwidth concisely
  • Project Leads – They can quickly evaluate team capacity

In most instances, t shirt size estimation in Agile is used by software development and engineering teams. However, any department can benefit from this technique. 

Steps Involved in T Shirt Sizing Estimates

When you decide to use T Shirt Sizing Estimates in your organization that follows the Agile Approach, here are the steps involved:

  1. Ensure that all participants of the project team take part in the session.
  2. Give them cards with different t-shirt sizes like XS, XXL, S, XXL, XL, L and M.
  3. Once the cards are handed over, the product owner should take them up.
  4. In this step, the product owner will have to brief about the story to be estimated
  5. First, the team participants will have to listen to the product owner.
  6. Then, they should get answers to their queries
  7. Commonly team members can have the following questions:
    • What do users expect from this story?
    • For unit testing, should there be any special measures for this story?
    • Can I finish this task with the help of the code class library that already exist?
    • Otherwise, should I write a fresh one?
    • Should I learn new things for it before I start the design stage?
  8. After getting answers to their queries, each member should assign a t-shirt size to the story.
  9. At the same time, all team members will show their cards
  10. In case, all members have chosen the identical card, this will be the concluding estimate.
  11. If they show different cards, the team will discuss them again. 
  12. This should happen until all team members agree to the same size.

Teams will have to follow the steps above until they arrive at the same size. They should do this for all stories. After the estimation, they can discuss on the time required for completing each story.

The entire estimation process can be completed by following the steps listed above. They can do this quickly without affecting their team for other tasks. After this, they can begin the design and development process. Also, they should prioritize things accordingly.

Know About Story Points

One of the Agile sizing techniques, T-shirt sizing can again be split down into story points. This can be done for sprint planning. For sprint execution, story points can be further split into hours. T-shirt sizing is an excellent choice for planning the release and describing project roadmap. When it comes to better sprint planning, story point estimates are more precise. 

What is Story Point?

A story point is nothing but a unit of measure. It is used for expressing an estimate of the overall effort required for the completion of a specific user story. Not only for specific user stories but also it can be for product backlog items or a sprint.

When you take the case of conventional project management techniques, the work is shown in time format. For instance, it was shown in terms of months, weeks or days. But, in Agile, teams use story points to provide an estimate. Teams can provide estimates based on associated risks, the complexity of the user story and the amount of work involved. Here, story points vary from estimating in hours required per person. It might not take into consideration the risk or complexity that might bring delay in the task completion. Story point estimation is ideal for high-level estimation due to its flexibility.

Who Should Opt for T-Shirt Sizing?

Among the other Agile sizing methods, you can tackle t-shirt sizing based on your backlog size. Let us consider that you have a lesser number of items in your backlog. In this case, you can use planning poker. It means that you can request your Scrum Master to use Fibonacci Sequence number cards instead. As against, t-shirt size letters, this technique can help. Also, it will help if you need an estimate for a subset of a bigger backlog list.

For large backlogs, you can use bucket systems and affinity mapping estimation techniques. In these techniques, each member of the team will get the freedom to assign sizing independently. Finally, they can discuss disagreements later. This technique will help even smaller teams to get through a large backlog list. More importantly, they can do this quickly.

So, who is t shirt sizing Agile for? This estimation technique can be helpful for new Agile teams. They can use this technique both for sprint planning and user stories. By following this approach, teams can assign a story point value to each t-shirt size. In turn, the teams can become comfortable with story points within the safe lines of t shirt sizing in Agile.

Points To Remember When Using T-Shirt Sizing Estimation

When you use t shirt size estimation Agile, you will have to remember certain things to do and certain things not to do. By following the points to remember given below, you can yield the best outcomes:

  • When you follow this estimation technique, your answers will be preliminary estimations
  • It means that you can use this technique for greater goals and matters
  • Make sure not to excessively expand the number of sizes
  • When you do this, you can arrive at better decisions. 
  • When you add more sizes, things can get complicated
  • Let us consider that you work with a group of people. When you do this, you can get countless ideas
  • You might feel it to be good. But you might lose track of the objective when you do this. Keep an eye on your own ideas. Also, ensure that your estimation gets you close to the objective.
  • You need not have to restrict yourself to t-shirt labels.
  • On the other hand, you can consider using alternative labels for spotting sizes.
  • Examples include fruits, where you can use the tiniest fruit to denote the least size
  • Let the largest fruit denote the greatest size
  • You can stay creative with size labels.
  • Your objective should be to get to an understanding on size

Example for T-Shirt Sizing Agile

Let us consider that you decide on an epic size when building a fresh website for your business. When you do this, ensure that it is built around the goals of your project team. For instance, let us consider that you would like to build a website. The website should be developed for supervisors of an organization to access and have functionality for documentation.

Epics are the larger picture. Every element of these epics should be split down into user stories. Only then, they can gain full functionality. The epics for your goal of building a website would be split into sprints as given in the tabular column below:

T-Shirt Size







User profile





T-shirt sizing in Agile is one of the best estimation techniques. But you should ensure that your Agile team rightly comprehends the meaning of T-shirt sizes and the corresponding values. It will help with easily gauging project requirements.

It is also a fun approach to breaking down complex projects. The members of your team can quickly understand the concept of sizes. In turn, they can arrive at evaluating project scopes. Also, you can do this with sprints in a straightforward way.

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Frequently Asked Questions

T-shirt sizing is a relative estimation technique used in Agile to assess the relative effort or complexity of user stories or tasks using sizes like XS, S, M, L, or XL.

T-shirt sizing is simpler and more high-level than methods like story points, as it provides a quick, relative estimate without getting into specific numeric values.

T-shirt sizing is often used during backlog grooming or initial story estimation to get a rough idea of the size of the work to be done.

These sizes represent a gradient of effort or complexity, with XS being the smallest and XL the largest.

Team members discuss and collaboratively agree on the T-shirt size based on their collective understanding of the work required.

Yes, while T-shirt sizing provides relative sizing, it can be translated into more specific estimation units if needed.

T-shirt sizing is often recommended for teams new to Agile as it offers a straightforward way to estimate work. More experienced teams might transition to other methods as their understanding of the work deepens.

T-shirt sizing allows for a quick initial assessment of user stories, helping teams prioritize and sequence work based on its relative size.

T-shirt sizing provides high-level estimates and lacks precision, which may not be suitable for all situations. It's best used for quick, early estimations.

Yes, teams often use T-shirt sizing alongside other methods like story points or ideal days for a more comprehensive estimation approach.
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