Today, we’ve had our first planning poker game involving 3 developers (one of them an architect) and myself. The architect who also performs local project management role had told me he liked the idea and it helped with the estimates however I still want to outline some of the things that caught my eye
- We have tried to estimate tasks and not user stories while in theory planning poker is used for estimating user stories that carry a certain business value
- The user story we have been referring to is actually an epic and should probably be decomposed into a set of smaller stories
- Instead of using 1 point as a “perfect developer day” we have tried setting a smaller scale – 1 point being equivalent to 4 hours of work
- Guys who are not familiar with the subject have been reluctant to provide their input on the estimates.
- Differences in estimates is what’s causing the discussion and the actual brain work. I saw that happen and saw how a person’s explanation of his position on the provided estimate (that was significantly higher than anyone else’s) was sound enough to bring everyone to the same conclusion
- It seems that generally, teams who have been working together for some time, tend to give estimates in a smaller range i.e. in the game today I haven’t seen deviations of more than 2 points
In the books on Scrum, Agile that I’ve read, the authors described that in planning poker games, the team or a scrum master just read out the story and start estimating. It does not seem to work well for highly specialized projects like our own where different individuals deal with different part of the business domain. As a result, we have 1 or 2 team members capable of making reasonable estimates and actually deliver what’s needed in specific areas like SCORM. Others, who don’t possess the same knowledge as these folks do, are less involved into explaining their position and wait to hear what more experienced members say.
Overall, it was a pretty cool experience and I look forward to introducing it on a sprint level for 1 or 2 of our subteams