Using Planning Poker for Effective Agile Estimation

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Are you tired of constantly missing project deadlines or delivering poor quality products? If so, then you need to implement agile estimation techniques. And what better way to do it than by using Planning Poker? This collaborative game will not only help you deliver high-quality results but will also foster better communication within your team.

Understanding Planning Poker

Before diving into the benefits of Planning Poker, let's first explore what it is. This estimation technique was originally created by James Grenning in 2002. The game is played by a team of developers who assign points to user stories or tasks to be completed in a project.

What is Planning Poker?

Planning Poker is a fun and engaging game that allows teams to estimate the effort required to complete specific tasks. Each team member receives a set of cards with numbers representing a level of difficulty. The game is played in a series of rounds where team members select a card representing their estimation of the task at hand. These points are then discussed, and the team collectively comes to a consensus on the estimation. The process is repeated for every task in the project.

Planning Poker is not just a game, but a technique that helps teams to estimate the amount of work required for each task in a project. It is based on the principle of collective intelligence, where the team members collaborate to come up with the best estimation possible.

The game is also a great way to encourage team members to participate actively in the estimation process. It provides a safe and non-judgmental environment where everyone can express their opinions and concerns.

The History of Planning Poker

Invented by James Grenning, this estimation technique was initially created to replace the traditional approach of assigning hours to tasks. The traditional approach was flawed, as it did not take into account the complexity of the task and the skills of the team members.

Planning Poker quickly became popular in agile software development teams because it provided a more accurate and collaborative way of estimating project effort. Today, it is used in various industries beyond software development, such as marketing or manufacturing.

Planning Poker has also evolved over time. Today, there are different variations of the game that cater to the specific needs of different teams and projects.

Key Components of Planning Poker

The success of Planning Poker heavily relies on three central elements: estimates, discussion, and consensus.

Estimates are the first step in the Planning Poker process. Team members are asked to provide estimates for each task, and the value is recorded. These estimates are based on the team member's understanding of the task and their experience in handling similar tasks in the past.

Discussion is the next step in the process. Once the estimates are recorded, team members discuss their estimates and the reasoning behind them. This discussion is crucial, as it helps to identify any discrepancies and clarify any doubts.

Consensus is the final step in the process. Once the discussion is over, the team collectively comes to a consensus on the estimation value for each task. This consensus is based on the discussion and the team's understanding of the project requirements.

In conclusion, Planning Poker is an effective technique for estimating project effort. It encourages collaboration, active participation, and consensus building among team members. By using Planning Poker, teams can ensure that they have a more accurate estimation of the effort required for each task, leading to a more successful project outcome.

The Benefits of Planning Poker in Agile Estimation

Agile Estimation is an essential part of any project management process, and Planning Poker is a popular technique used by many Agile teams to estimate the effort required to complete a task. Planning Poker is a collaborative approach that involves team members sharing their opinions and insights to create a more accurate estimation. If you are still not convinced about the power of Planning Poker, let's go over some of the benefits in more detail.

Improved Estimation Accuracy

One of the most significant benefits of Planning Poker is that it allows for a more accurate estimation of effort and time required to complete a task. Unlike traditional estimation techniques, Planning Poker leverages the collective knowledge of the team to create more realistic timelines and expectations. By bringing together team members with different perspectives and expertise, Planning Poker helps to identify potential risks and challenges that may have been overlooked in a traditional estimation process.

For instance, let's say you are estimating the effort required to develop a new feature for your product. With Planning Poker, you can bring together developers, designers, and product managers to discuss the various elements involved in the feature. Each team member can provide their input, leading to a more comprehensive and accurate estimation.

Enhanced Team Collaboration

Collaboration is key to the success of any project. Planning Poker brings team members together to discuss and debate the various elements of a task, leading to better communication and team cohesion. By involving everyone in the estimation process, Planning Poker helps to ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of the task at hand.

Moreover, Planning Poker encourages team members to listen to each other's perspectives and opinions. This helps to build trust and respect within the team, leading to better collaboration and problem-solving.

Increased Efficiency and Time Savings

Planning Poker helps streamline the estimation process, leading to fewer delays and less wasted effort. With a more accurate estimation, team members can plan their work better, leading to less rework and frustration. This results in increased efficiency and time savings for the team.

For example, if you have a more accurate estimation of the effort required to complete a task, you can allocate resources more effectively, leading to better time management and less wasted effort.

Greater Transparency and Accountability

Planning Poker creates a level playing field where everyone's voice is heard. Team members feel empowered to take ownership of their work, leading to greater accountability and transparency within the team. This helps to create a culture of trust and openness, where team members are encouraged to share their opinions and ideas.

Moreover, Planning Poker helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the estimation process. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications, leading to greater transparency and accountability.

In conclusion, Planning Poker is a powerful technique that can help Agile teams to improve their estimation accuracy, enhance team collaboration, increase efficiency and time savings, and promote greater transparency and accountability. If you haven't already tried it, consider using Planning Poker in your next Agile project.

How to Conduct a Planning Poker Session

Planning Poker is a collaborative and fun estimation technique that is used to estimate the effort required to complete a project. It is a great way to involve the entire team in the estimation process and ensure that everyone has a say in the final estimation value. Now that you understand the benefits of Planning Poker, let's go over the steps to conduct a successful session:

Assemble the Team

The first step in conducting a Planning Poker session is to assemble the team who will be working on the project. It's important to have representatives from every area of expertise to ensure accurate estimations. This will help to avoid any potential blind spots or assumptions that could lead to incorrect estimations. The team should be made up of people who will be involved in the project, such as developers, designers, testers, project managers, and other stakeholders.

Prepare the User Stories

Once the team is assembled, the next step is to create a list of user stories or tasks to be estimated. These should be broken down into smaller items to encourage a more granular estimation process. This will help to ensure that the estimations are more accurate and that the team has a better understanding of the effort required to complete each task. The user stories should be clear and concise, and should be written in a way that is easily understandable by everyone on the team.

Explain the Planning Poker Process

Before you start playing, it's important to ensure that all team members understand the rules of the game. Explain how the cards are used, the estimation process, and how to reach consensus. The cards used in Planning Poker are typically numbered from 0 to 100, with each number representing a different level of effort required to complete the task. The team members will each choose a card that they feel represents the effort required, and the cards will be revealed simultaneously. The team will then discuss the estimations and try to reach a consensus on the final value.

Conduct the Estimation Rounds

Once everyone understands the rules, it's time to start playing. Hold a series of estimation rounds where team members provide their estimation using the provided cards. Create a healthy debate where team members can voice their opinion and concerns. Allow everyone to present their point of view. This will help to ensure that all perspectives are considered and that the estimations are as accurate as possible. It's important to remain open-minded and to listen to the opinions of others.

Discuss and Reveal Estimates

Once the rounds are completed, it's time to discuss the estimates as a team. The final value should be determined based on the collective input provided by team members. It's important to have an open and honest discussion about the estimations and to consider all viewpoints. This will help to ensure that the final estimation value is as accurate as possible.

Reach Consensus and Record Results

Make sure collective agreement is reached before finalizing the estimation value. Ensure that the results are recorded for future reference and evaluation. This will help to ensure that the estimations are consistent over time and that the team can learn from past experiences. It's important to review the results regularly and to make adjustments as needed.

In conclusion, Planning Poker is a great way to involve the entire team in the estimation process and to ensure that everyone has a say in the final estimation value. By following these steps, you can conduct a successful Planning Poker session that will help to ensure accurate estimations and a successful project outcome.


Planning Poker is an effective agile estimation technique that brings teams together to estimate efforts accurately. Its many advantages make it an attractive option for teams looking to improve their output while fostering collaboration and teamwork. So, if you want to improve your project estimation process and achieve better results, give Planning Poker a try.

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