Planning Poker

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Definition:

Planning Poker is a scrum technique that the project teams use to estimate the effort needed to complete a project. This technique is also called the Scrum Poker or Pointing Poker. In this technique, the entire project team gives the input and consensus, due to which the estimates done using this technique are more accurate than the other methods. The project team uses planning poker cards similar to poker cards.

Planning Poker

Planning Poker is a gamified technique in which each member of a project team (also called an estimator) gets some planning poker cards similar to the poker cards. By using those cards, the project team gets an estimate of the time and efforts needed to develop a particular project. The results obtained from this technique are more accurate and engaging as everyone is involved in the estimation process.

Now that you understand what planning poker is, you must be wondering how it works. Let’s get into it:

How Planning Poker Works?

The Planning Poker brings different stakeholders from across the departments within an organization to estimate the effort and time needed for accomplishing a project. These stakeholders include the product managers, product designers, product owners, QA team.

The following steps are included in this technique:

Step 1: Distributing the Cards to the Participants:

Identical cards are distributed to all the participants of the planning poker. Each deck has a number that the entire team agreed to include in the estimate. The decks are arranged in a particular sequence. The standard sequences include doubling the next number. The numbers on each card represent different things such as story points, ideal days, or the units that the project team uses for the estimation.

The decks are limited with significant number jumps as planning poker aims to help everyone reach a consensus number for each user story (explanation of how a certain feature offers value to its users). This way, the participants get limited options; otherwise, the process would become inefficient if all participants had too many options.

Step 2: Reading the Story:

The product owner or the project manager narrates the story to all the participants. If anybody has any questions, the manager or the owner answers those questions.

Step 3: Discussing the Story:

Once the project manager/owner has read the story, all the participants discuss it by sharing their views. The things discussed in this step are: how the team will handle the work, how many people should be involved, what skill sets are required, how the problems and delays would be handled. Along with this discussion, the participants also ask questions about the story.

Step 4: Choose and Share:

After all the participants have shared their views and got answers to any questions, everyone secretly chooses one card from the deck. The number on the card chosen by each participant represents their estimate about the story point. Once everybody has chosen a card, they all reveal their cards simultaneously.

The higher the number on card a participant chooses, the higher the chances of difficulty and delay in completing the story.

Step 5: Reaching a Consensus:

Once everybody has revealed the card, if all the cards match, the number of that card becomes the consensus. The team can now move to the next story. But, if the cards show different numbers, the discussion is done again. The participant gives the reasons for choosing the higher or lower estimate and explains their position to their coworkers. After the discussion has been done, the participants review their choice and choose to go with the current choice or choose a new card.

This entire process repeats unless the team reaches a common choice. Usually, the estimate starts to converge after the second round.

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