Planning Poker is a serious issue, not a game. But when you introduce Planning Poker Cards at your next release planning meeting, team interest level (and participation) will shoot straight up and, even better, you'll walk away with what is most likely the most accurate project time estimate you've ever had. Here's how it works...
- You create your required feature list as usual. Your Scrum Backlog for example.
- The most experienced developer (or the Scrum Master) for each feature provides an overview of the functionality for that feature. Team members can ask questions and participate in discussions until the feature has been fully discussed. No one is allowed to mention time estimates during the discussion. The Product Owner makes a note of the final consensus.
- Each team member selects a Planning Poker Card representing their estimate of the amount of time (usually Story Points or Ideal Days) required to produce that feature and lays it on the table face down. Again, time estimates are not permitted to be mentioned out loud.
- Everyone turns their cards over at the same time.
- Team members with high and low estimates are given the opportunity to make their case for supporting the amount of time they have estimated.
- The process is repeated until the team reaches a consensus. Preference may be given to the estimate of the developer who will be responsible for implementing the feature in question, but the Product Owner, acting as moderator, should help in the negotiation.
- A timer is used to ensure that each discussion phase does not drag on. The moderator or Project Manager controls the timer. Once the allotted discussion time has passed, another round of Planning Poker ensues.
The entire process forces each team member to fully think out their position and to be able to present their justifications to the team. No one has more authority than anyone else, and the project time line is developed without pressure or bias.
Agile Hardware has developed Planning Poker Cards to help you with your Planning Poker