What is Planning Poker?
Planning Poker is a technique to gather estimations from a team and stimulate conversation. Wikipedia already does a pretty good trick when it comes to explaining the topic, but this is the procedure in short:
- The Product Owner explains a Product Backlog item
- The team asks clarifying questions. Do they know enough to estimate?
- The team uses a set of cards with a Fibonacci sequence (or an app equivalent) to estimate the item. They give an estimation in relation to agreed upon reference Backlog items. They estimate complexity.
- The individual estimations are revealed at the same time to prevent anchoring.
- If there is a big difference, the lowest and highest estimators explain why they made their estimation (also called soapbox).
- The estimation is repeated until the values match more or less.
The advantages of Planning Poker
- Hidden assumptions between team members are revealed.
- Conversation is stimulated.
- If the values match immediately, no further time is needed to elaborate on details.
- Gathered insights (or acceptance criteria) can be added to the Product Backlog item.
- The Product Owner can gather input around complexity or previously unknown dependencies in a short timespan. Which allows him or her to manage the Product Backlog.
- Planning Poker is not to be confused with a thorough technical analysis. The idea is to talk just enough to get an idea and a shared understanding of complexity without going into technical details too much.