Planning Poker - effort estimation made easy
What is Planning Poker?
Who takes part in Planning Poker?
Conducting the Planning Poker - the steps
- Everyone agrees and the user story receives the corresponding story points. This means that all participants value the user story with the same effort.
- There is a disagreement, but the points are close enough so that the higher value is used for the effort of the user story.
- There is disagreement and the points are too far apart to agree without discussion. Then this is exactly what happens. Members should discuss why they have chosen these points. This can lead to changing opinions and a re-evaluation can take place. If the cards are turned over and there is agreement, the next user story is proceeded with. If agreement is not reached even after several attempts, the user story is put on hold. Either it is formulated and discussed again at the next meeting, or the user story is divided into smaller user stories, which might make it easier to decide on the next round.
Advantages of Planning Poker
Moderating the meeting ensures a structured process and prevents participants from getting lost in unnecessary discussions. Discussions that do not lead to a solution can be cut off, and the time frame set by the clock is also helpful. This prevents a single user story from going beyond the given framework and being put on hold if no agreement can be reached.
The fact that the points are given independently, so that the opinion cannot be influenced by others, ensures that people really do give their opinion. Often people are insecure and hold back their own opinion or conform to the opinion of others. But here you don't have the opportunity to do that, because you don't consciously discuss why you have classified something this way or that way until later. And then it's a matter of professional opinion, not a group dynamic that you have to bow to in order to be convinced. Every opinion is considered, heard and valued.
In this way, planning uncertainty can be reduced through the process.
Disadvantages of Planning Poker
As mentioned at the beginning, it is important that team members who are familiar with user stories are involved in the process. Otherwise, you will have team members who have no experience at all and cannot really contribute. This can lead to a lack of consensus and wasted time because the moderator cannot end the discussion quickly enough. In addition to inexperience, it may also be that the user story is simply too large and needs to be reduced. It is therefore important to determine in advance how much time should be spent on a user story.
It can also be difficult to estimate the effort based on the numbers on the cards, as this is a fictitious size that cannot be easily converted into a real size. If you wanted to do this, you would have to do the same conversion for the whole project, otherwise there would be inconsistencies as similar things, just in a different Sprint, could be valued differently. So the team needs to learn how to work with the numbers on the cards.
Even if the points are given independently of each other, it can happen in the subsequent discussion that individual members feel compelled to change their minds in order to reach an agreement that they do not actually hold. However, this is also the case with many other methods, so it is difficult to avoid such problems.