Considering a 'free tool' that costs 100's hours/year in extra work?

Case example

A free tool costing more than $14.000/year in lost time - is that a free tool?

When we ask people this question, the answer is always no.

Many free planning poker tools help teams with story point estimation. These tools are not free because teams pay a high price in lost time. The following image shows the difference between Smart Guess and other tools. It shows where teams are losing valuable time today. More about this here.

Case example: One minute saved during story estimation for a 200-member dev-organization

What is the $ value of that?

Notice that with Smart Guess, teams save more than one minute, as explained below.

Inspired by the following question posted on the Atlassian Community: "Help me find an estimation tool that my IT admins will approve ". Let's use the information from the article and make assumptions to estimate the cost of lost time. Let's say:

  • 200 members (10% of 2000 employee company) take part in story estimation on average/week
  • 60 minutes for story estimation/week on average per dev-team

Let's calculate the value of one minute, to understand the cost of lost time vs. a tool that saves time.

How much time can the company save by selecting a better solution?

A better solution that manages to save only 1 minute during story estimation will save:

  • 200 planning users/week * 1 minute saving/meeting * 4 estimation meetings/month = 800 minutes saved / month
  • Which is: 800 minutes / 60minutes per hour = 13,3 hours saved /month
  • Which is: 13.3 hours/month * 12 months/year = 160 hours saved / year

Let's calculate the value of 160 hours saved/year:

  • According to Clockify, there are: 1757 working hours/per year in the US
  • According to, the average tech salary in the US per year is: $124.000
  • $124.000 / 1757 hours = $70 / hour average salary

In addition, according to this study total cost of an employee in the US, taking taxes and benefits into account is 1.25-1.40 times the base salary.

One minute saved pays thousands of dollars every year

At a critical place in your process, one minute saved pays back a considerable amount every year:

  • 160 hours saved/year * $70 / hour average tech salary = $11.200 saved / every year (not including taxes and benefits)
  • $14000 - $15680 saved / every year (including taxes and benefits)

With Smart Guess, teams are saving much more than 1 minute

Only looking at the Scrum master job, then all of the following tasks are removed:

  1. No "estimation session" to create
  2. No "estimation backlog" to create
  3. No importing of stories into the planning poker tool
  4. No invites/links to send team-members
  5. No exporting story points back into Jira

Skipping all these tasks saves more than one minute of Scrum master's time. In addition:

When our team started using Smart Guess, the story estimation effort dropped significantly, powered by one-click estimates within the Jira issue. The most significant relief was our development team began giving estimates when browsing the backlog. Without anyone asking them to do so!


So given this, even though a better solution might cost a couple of thousand dollars/year, it has the potential to pay back multiple times every year. This is why Smart Guess was built to work perfectly with the Jira Issue and the Jira Backlog - optimizing the flow of work for everyone taking part in story estimation.

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