What is planning poker? Definition, Purpose and How To Start

The higher a participant’s card is, the more difficult that participant estimates the story will be to complete. Imagine you bought a house and you’re planning to remodel the kitchen. You ask a contractor for an estimate on how long the remodel will take and approximately how much it will cost. They give you an estimate, but two months later, you’re regretting your decision because the project is far past the original timeline and well over budget.

definition of planning poker

But whether you use the physical cards or the online version, this Poker tool is gaining traction in the Agile community. It is a good skill for any Agile or Scrum professional to incorporate into their toolbox. At the estimation meeting, each estimator is given one deck of the cards. When teams are not in the same geographical locations, collaborative software over the internet can be used as replacement for physical cards.

Starting an asynchronous Priority Poker game

As a consultant and trainer, he has been supporting companies from a wide range of industries for over a decade on topics related to agile transformation, innovation and organizational development. You can invite unlimited guests into the virtual Planning Poker sessions. Planning Poker also increases team morale by giving everyone an equal voice. As a result, people feel they are being listened to, making them care more.

definition of planning poker

Airfocus will automatically generate a QR code and link that players can use to join the game. Priority Poker / Planning Poker is a tool used by groups, especially product development teams, to make decisions about how and where to direct their resources and efforts. It’s designed to be a more democratic, fair, and transparent way to make group decisions. Or, you can sidestep the hassle and opt for a pre-built planning poker platform like airfocus.

Mastering Planning Poker: A Comprehensive Guide to Agile Estimation Techniques

This is accomplished by requiring that all participants show their cards at the same time. If you only have a small amount of user stories to discuss in your product backlog, you can combine this session onto the end of a daily standup meeting since all team members are already present. Planning Poker is most commonly played during sprint planning or backlog grooming sessions.

Once the customer finishes the reading, the estimators discuss the presentation, asking the customer questions as needed. When the team has thoroughly addressed the matter, each estimator discreetly chooses one card to represent their estimate. It brings teams together and makes voices heard – Sometimes, group discussions and decision-making can result in just one or two people dominating the conversation. This means that, in reality, the final decision isn’t really one of consensus. Priority Poker / Planning Poker solves this elegantly, by giving everyone in the room an equal voice and encouraging every member to speak up, including the quieter team members.

In addition, Planning Poker playing cards are available in the Mountain Goat Software store. Mountain Goat Software’s branded Planning Poker cards are sold at cost as a courtesy to the agile community. The team repeats the process until they achieve consensus on an estimate.

The benefits of planning poker

Each card is marked with a unit that represents the length of time it will take to complete a project. Additionally, studies have shown that independent estimates during agile estimating and planning leads to better results. Read more about the reasons teams estimate with Planning Poker. The estimators discuss the feature, asking questions of the product owner as needed. When the feature has been fully discussed, each estimator privately selects one card to represent their estimate. The estimators then reveal all of their cards at the same time.

Now that everyone has heard the story, the group will discuss it. The group will also use this time to ask questions about the story. The decks are limited, with significant number-jumps, because the goal is for all participants to reach a consensus number for each story.

It’s like having six friends discussing where they want to eat, and one announces a clear choice. The other five friends are likely to go along with that first stated choice subconsciously. When the group has concluded this new round of discussion, everyone will again review their cards and either keep their previous choice or select a new one. All participants will again reveal their cards at the same time. But if the cards differ, then the group continues its discussion about the story. Those with higher (or lower) estimates than the rest of the group will explain their reasoning and try to persuade their coworkers to see their position.

People, in general, are more enthusiastic and dedicated to a plan that they helped create instead of simply being told what to do. If team members feel that they have a stake in the project, it becomes important to them, and they work harder to achieve the plan’s objectives. The cards are numbered as they are to account for the fact that the longer an estimate is, the more uncertainty it contains. A dominating person in the group can unduly influence the other participants. If you’re not careful, it can lead to estimate driven not by consensus but force of will. If all participants’ reveal the same card, then that number becomes the consensus.

If assigning priority values aloud, the team would subconsciously use the first number as an anchor point — making all subsequent choices less reliable. Priority Poker / Planning Poker eliminates this by keeping everything anonymous and allowing people to speak their minds. It also eliminates the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO) bias and the bandwagon effect by keeping rankings anonymous. All members can speak freely without being influenced or judged by the highest-ranking group members’ opinions. You need to follow the same initial steps to set up a new game, including starting and naming a game, adding items, and inviting players to join. You can go back to a group discussion, trying to reach a conclusion.

planning poker

The Scrum Master or Product Owner presents the user story and technical or business context, answers any related questions, then asks team members to submit their votes. Airfocus will suggest a “smart” rating that averages together all the player ratings, but Product Owners can change this rating if they feel it’s not quite right. Once all your players are done, the Product Owner can lock each item, concluding the voting and displaying the results.

  • When you have just one person’s opinion, you only have their input and expertise to consider.
  • If you’re not careful, it can lead to estimate driven not by consensus but force of will.
  • So, even if you’ve never had to perform a particular task before, you can look back at past tasks and find a similar one, using it as a benchmark.
  • The higher a participant’s card is, the more difficult that participant estimates the story will be to complete.
  • The first step of planning poker is to pass out your planning poker cards.
  • Each story represents a task or series of tasks to be completed.

It is easy to learn and provides a quick way to estimate stories, discover knowledge gaps, and encourage conversation.

definition of planning poker

Or you can simply take the actual average of the scores and have that be your story score. Simply log in to the tool and preload a set of items to be estimated. They can log in and meet via their favorite video conferencing tool to communicate during the https://www.globalcloudteam.com/ session. By hiding the Poker tool values and showing them simultaneously, the team is more likely to get honest estimates. Team members can say what’s on their minds and offer unbiased opinions, rather than just saying what the customer wants to hear.