Planning Poker to better estimate your developments!

Planning poker is an estimation technique (in Story Points or Ideal Days) used in the context of organizations Agile, Scrum and SAFe. This estimation method is also known as “Scrum Poker.

Planning Poker was created in 2002 by James Grenning and popularized by Mike Cohn. We use it not to plan, but to estimate.

Planning Poker is a collaborative estimating method, essential in a Scrum team. It is used to evaluate the effort required to complete development tasks. Based on consensus, this technique ensures that every team member contributes to the final estimate. Promoting communication and transparency, Planning Poker is a key tool for effective collaboration.

In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at a typical Planning Poker session!

How an estimating session works

Scrum team members sit around a table, or on a videoconferencing device. All members of the development team must be present at the estimating session. The presence of the PO is also required.

All youneed is atypicaldeck ofPlanning Poker cards. This deck generally contains enough cards for 4 “players” (estimators). If there are more of you, get at least two decks of cards. Ifthe meeting takes place online, makesure your tool allows the right number of participants.

Each deck contains cards with values between 0 and 100 and 3 special cards (one with a question mark, one with the infinity symbol and one with a cup of coffee).

The composition of the card deck is as follows:

  • The numbers on the cards represent a progression based on the Fibonacci sequence. You’ll find the following numbers on the cards: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. Next, the numbers 20, 40 and 100 (instead of 21, 34 and 55).
  • The (infinity) symbol is used when the player believes the User Story is worth more than 100 units.
  • The question mark is used if the estimator does not know how to estimate the US.
  • The cup of coffee expresses the need for a break for the whole team.
  • Card 0 represents a task with almost no load.

Estimating with Poker Planning involves 4 steps:

1 - Explanation of the User Story by the Product Owner :

The PO (Product Owner) explains a User Story to all participants in the estimation session.

2 - Questions/answers on the content of the User Story :

Participants ask questions of the PO, discuss the scope of the User Story and talk about the conditions for its Definition of Done. They can alsolement ask the Product Owner for clarification.

3 - Individual estimate :

Each estimator assesses the complexity, chooses the card that corresponds to his or her estimate, and places it face-down on the table in front of him or her, or on the online tool.

4- Collective bargaining and estimation :

At the Scrum Master’s signal, the cards are turned over at the same time. If there is no unanimity, the team discusses and negotiates the differences in estimates. If there is disagreement, we return to step 3. The estimation process is repeated until the team is unanimous.

To speed things up, don’t hesitate to split the difference if there’s no unanimity. It’s essential to agree at the start of the session on the rule to be applied in the event of disagreement (averaging, taking the highest or lowest estimate, etc.).

poker planning estimation scrum Planning Poker to better estimate your developments!

My tips for a successful estimate

This agile estimation method enables communication within the Scrum team. The main advantage of Poker Planning is that it allows everyone to express themselves freely, and allows a consensus estimate to emerge from the team.

Here is a list of advice I give to my teams as a Scrum Master:

  • It may happen that participants fail to reach agreement after several rounds of estimation and discussion. This can often be attributed to a different interpretation of the User Story in question. In such situations, it’s essential to agree on a common reading grid and explicit evaluation criteria.

  • Time-saving tip: if the extreme values differ by just one point (e.g. a majority of 5s and just one 8). It can be useful to agree on a rule for deciding quickly, without discussion. For example, you can choose the majority score or use the arithmetic mean.
  • Bear in mind that the Planning Poker technique generates a lot of discussion. It is therefore particularly suitable when the number of stories to be estimated is limited (around ten). If you have a large number of stories to estimate, it may be preferable to opt for the Extreme Quotation technique, which limits discussions to the most essential aspects. I’ll come back to this other estimation method in detail in a future article.

image Planning Poker to better estimate your developments!

Top 3 free online planning poker tools

1. The one I recommend: Planitpoker

The best online Planning Poker tool, simple and efficient with 100% free features.

This tool includes some notable features: creating rooms for estimation, entering or importing User Stories, ignoring User Stories and automatically revealing votes at the end of the voting process. It also supports various estimation methods, such as T-shirt or Scrum (Fibonacci) cards. Finally, there are no ads to degrade the user experience, and that’s a real plus.

Plus : No ads and free.

2. Firepoker.io

This online poker planning tool is completely free and open source. you don’t need to register to start a session. You can create a space and make estimates almost immediately. What’s more, estimating charts are supplied in four different models, such as Fibonacci, T-shirt, Scrum and Sequential. Inviting team members into the space is easy. All you have to do is share the room link with them. You can easily import your list of User Stories. 

Plus points: Ad-free, free and open source.

Minus: A little less  than theother two competitors.

3. scrumpoker-online

Scrumpoker-online is another easy-to-use online Scrum Poker tool, completely free of charge. It is available with a simple user interface. It lets you create spaces and invite team members in a matter of seconds. You don’t need to register, nor pay any additional fees. What I like most is the ability to make an estimate without wasting too much time launching the session.

Minus: the presence of ads in the free version.

Don’t hesitate to suggest other free online Poker Planning tools in the comments! We’ll be delighted to include them in our ranking, once they’ve been tested.

Buy Planning Poker cards

Simplify your sprint planning meetings with Poker Planning cards! Involve your team in a fun and effective way, encourage collaboration and get fast, accurate estimates. Join the community of Scrum Masters who have already adopted this practice. Buy your cards now and turn your meetings into productive, harmonious experiences!

Conclusion

In conclusion, Poker Planning cards are a simple but powerful tool for Scrum Masters and Agile teams. They facilitate sprint planning sessions, encourage team participation, improve communication and foster collaboration. Investing in these cards can therefore be a wise choice for optimizing project management and improving your team’s productivity. So go ahead and get your Poker Planning cards now to make your sprint planning meetings more efficient and enjoyable!

Planning Poker printable pdf cards

Download these Planning Poker printable pdf cards. We’ve created this deck for you. Feel free to download them and give us feedback to improve this pdf file.

Several Pokémon fans made up my team at the time, hence the theme chosen for these Poker Planning cards.

pdf planning poker telechrgement Planning Poker to better estimate your developments!

Cette publication est également disponible en : French

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Picture of Ahmed BEN SALEM

Ahmed BEN SALEM

Strongly involved in Agile methodologies, I have held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner and Release Train Engineer for SAFe, Scrum and DevOps projects. My approach focuses on people and stakeholder collaboration, creating environments conducive to innovation and performance.

Since 2016, I have successfully led several Agile software development projects for companies of all sizes, including Odigo, Orange and PSA. My solid experience in Agile methodologies, in particular Scrum and SAFe, has enabled me to work with multicultural teams from countries such as the USA, India, Vietnam and Morocco.

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