One of the most important aspects of fulfilling the customer’s expectations is punctuality. We never want to make our customers wait for too long. So we cannot afford to be late. Client satisfaction is a crucial value for STATSCORE. There are various ways that we can help the team with being on time. How do we do this? We play poker!

I am talking about a method called planning poker. It allows us to estimate the amount of work needed to complete a task. How to play planning poker to win? Let me explain.

Playing poker takes place during the Product Backlog Refinement meetings. When there is a task for the team to do, we gather together and analyse. As an effect, we want to be able to estimate, how much work is required to call the task „done”.

LET’S PLAY POKER

During the meeting, the Product Owner reads the User Story for the team and describes the acceptance criteria. Then the team have a discussion to clarify any doubts and questions. When everything is clear, it’s time to play for some poker.

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Each team member is equipped with a deck of cards. It is not a regular deck like the ones that can be found in a casino, but one that’s been a little bit modified. Developers can use a mobile app or actual cards. The cards more or less represent Fibonacci numbers. We have 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on. There are also „coffee cards”, if someone needs a break and „?”, if a developer cannot come up with an estimate.

HOPE THE NUMBERS MATCH

Numbers represent the Story Points for each User Story (we will talk about Story Points in a separate article 🙂 ). Let’s get back to our meeting. Each member of a team selects a card that reflects their estimation of the work involved. When everyone is ready, the cards are revealed, and all at the same time. There are two possible scenarios:

  1. All numbers are the same. In that case we can happily move on to the next task.
  2. The numbers are different to each other, i.e. 5, 3, 5, 5, 8

In the second scenario we need to discuss the differences. As a Product Owner, in this kind of a situation, I like to talk to the people who picked the highest and lowest value to understand their decision. The whole team takes part in this discussion. After understanding their point of view, the team do another round of estimations. It is repeated until all the numbers are the same and can be attached to the task. If developers cannot reach an agreement, it usually means that the User Story needs some work. It can be specified or split into smaller stories.

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WHAT IS THE VALUE ADDED

During the estimation, things that need to be consider are the amount of work, risk, complexity, dependencies and other technical aspects.

Using planning poker to estimate work have several advantages:

– each team member has the opportunity to express their opinion without suggestions from the others

– this method also allows us to compare the values of each task (if this one is 5, than that one has to be more, etc.)

– creates factual discussions about the Story Points value

– the differences within peoples estimation, often leads to finding out about information that the team was not aware of

– it’s a quick way to estimate a large number of user stories

Using planning poker allows for an effective approach to estimating work. Each team member has a chance to give an opinion and learn about other developer’s point of view. Besides, who doesn’t like to play poker? 🙂

Got inspired? Do you want to join our great team to play planning poker with us? Check for the latest vacancies.