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As teams grow bigger, the more obstacles occur for software developers to define, estimate, and distribute work among their teams. In Agile teams, such issues can be resolve by implementing Planning Poker to help developers estimate product timelines and set up strategic approach to get the work done.
What is Planning Poker?
Planning Poker is a planning and estimation technique used by Agile teams after a product backlog has been created. This technique is played by several estimators across all departments in product development — from the Scrum master to product managers, developers, QA testers, and UX designers. In Planning Poker, participants use physical cards to estimate the number of story points for each backlog story.
How to “Play” Planning Poker ?
Hand out the cards
Participants are all given an identical deck of cards that doubling each number (e.g 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64). The decks are limited, with significant number-jumps, because the goal is for all participants to reach a consensus number for each story.
Read the story
In this step, the product owner will read each story out loud to the group. The participants will take notes on important remarks or points that needing attention.
Next, based on the story given, participants will explore obstacles that slowing the progress and improvements that can be done to handle the work.
Estimate and Share
Participants will secretly choose a card from the deck to represent their estimate of story points and reveal their cards at the same time. The higher a participant’s card is, the more difficult for participant to estimates the story timelines.
Work Towards the Consensus
If all participants’ reveal the same card, then that number becomes the consensus and the team will able to move to next story. However, when participants have higher (or lower) estimates than the rest of the group, they will explain their reasoning and try to persuade their coworkers to see their position.
Advantages and Disanvantages of Planning Poker
Although Planning Poker offers valuable strategy to effective product development approach, there is no framework without flaws. Organization should take into account on several benefits and downfall in implementing planning poker:
Motivate team to collaborate and innovate with team-buliding framework
Planning Poker heavily rely on collaborative and team-building activities, which encourage each participant to take part in every decision and discussons made among team.
Increase morale by giving everyone on the cross-functional team a vote
When everyone is given an opportunity to take role in decision-making, it increases team’s positivity in delivering better outcomes for delivery processes.
Deliver insights and knowledge for all participants in a focused discussion
Planning Poker encourages active and focused discussion for wider insights and perspectives for each participants.
Consensus technique might give a false sense of confidence
Overy optimistic results when decision made in groups might have an opportunity to place a false sense of confidence
There’s an opportunity for dominating participants to force their will instead actively collaborate in the process
Several dominating members might take advantages in the team discussion and attempt to dominate the group to follow their will instead providing space for innovate
When misconduct, the conclusion might become too biased and optimistic, rather than realistic accordingly
When decisions are made in groups, each participant tend to become optimistic and take biased decision and might have missed some points. This leads team to follow unrealistic timeline to conduct more in less time.
Planning Poker is a great tool to support the Agile team through the product planning and development process. Planning Poker can also be done remotely, which is helpful for remote and hybrid teams to collaborate and prioritize items in their backlog without needing to be exact in-person situation.
Gandomani, T. J., Faraji, H., & Radnejad, M. Planning Poker in cost estimation in Agile methods: Averaging Vs. Consensus. In 2019 5th Conference on Knowledge Based Engineering and Innovation (KBEI) (pp. 066-071). IEEEHoda, R., Salleh, N., & Grundy, J. (2018). The rise and evolution of agile software development. IEEE software, 35(5), 58-63
R M Chopade, N S Dhavase. (2017). Agile software development: Positive and negative user stories, 2nd International Conference for Convergence in Technology (I2CT), 297-299, 2017.
Z Zhang. (2017). The Benefits and Challenges of Planning Poker in Software Development: Comparison Between Theory and Practice, Thesis -Auckland University of Technology, 2017.
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