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How do we play planning poker?

Jan 25, 2019 Lina Tools 0 comments

The rules of the game

In our previous blog post, we discussed key concepts for Agile planning, such as story points.Let’s continue with the rules of the Planning Poker game.

All you need is a deck of planning poker cards. And a team, of course 🙂 Then the procedure is simple:

  • Team refreshes their definition of a baseline story.
  • The Product Owner introduces the story that team will be estimating.
  • Each team member decides how many story points he or she will allocate and picks the relevant card from the deck.
  • When the facilitator gives a sign, all team members show their cards simultaneously.
  • The people who allocated the most and the least points explain their reasons and a round of additional questions and clarifications follows.
  • Then you do another round of estimations.
  • If you are looking for a full consensus, you repeat the procedure until the estimates are very close or equal. If the team is satisfied with the revealed information, they can also agree on a specific number and move on to the next story. This

The main benefit from this is not really the precise estimate that you will get. It is just a consequence of a thorough discussion and good understanding that the team co-create as they ask questions and share views. So, if you decide to try planning poker, or you are already using it, remember – do not do it for the estimates only – in the first place, do it for the discussions and the knowledge sharing.

Alternative approaches

Planning Poker is a great practice for digging deeper into the stories and discovering “hidden” information in the team. However, it can be really time consuming.

When estimating a big amount of stories – for example, in release planning sessions, you can consider some of the following practices:

  • Timebox discussions on individual stories. This will focus the team on the most important questions they want to raises.
  • Use T-shirt sizes instead of story points. This reduces the pressure on the team for super accurate estimates, and focuses them on understanding the overall amount of work.
  • Try techniques such as Big Wall estimation, or Bucket estimations. They help the team get an overview of the bigger picture, and reduces the overall estimation time.

Happy planning! 🙂

P.S. You can also check out our mobile Planning Poker application

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