Planning Poker

planning poker for estimation - Planning Poker

Planning Poker is a popular method used in estimating the efforts required to build the user stories. Estimation is usually done in the Sprint Planning meeting which takes place at the start of the sprint. At this stage, the team is mostly aware of the stories with highest priority and they are given importance accordingly.

Below are the 6 steps for conducting planning poker,

Step 1

Note that the Scrum Master moderates the entire session.

The first step in planning poker is to give the deck of cards with valid estimation numbers to all the scrum team members. Point scale or chat software can also be used if the team is not co-located.

Step 2

Scrum team goes over each story in the sprint backlog in the order of priority. Product Owner can be consulted to understand more about the user story and get the questions answered.

Step 3

Once the user story or feature is completely understood, each scrum team member assigns a story point value by either choosing a card from the deck or the point scale. This value is shared with the scrum team and is representative of the effort required to build the user story.

Step 4

If the estimates differ by a wide margin, the scrum team members that assigned the highest as well as the one that assigned the lowest explain their estimates. It is possible that the team member that assigned the lowest value knows of a way to develop the feature faster than the rest of the team is assuming. It is also possible that the team member that assigned the highest value knows of a complexity that the rest of the team isn’t thinking of.

Step 5

After the scrum team members explain the reasoning behind their estimates, the team gets another chance to choose an estimation card. This can again be done using an estimation card or software as necessary.

Step 6

At this stage, after all the explanations and discussions, the team is likely to converge to a narrow range of story points estimate. If required, the team can perform this exercise multiple times (usually 2-3 iterations) before a unanimous agreement is reached on the story point value.

Planning poker is effective because it is collaborative. These discussions also help in finalizing the feature development approach.

Each team member estimates the whole effort and not just his or her part. This ensures that even those team members that are not doing the work are also estimating it leading to a better understanding of the overall project.

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