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Planning Poker and Scrum – a brief introduction

First a question. How many of you have heard of something called Planning Poker ? Not too many of you ? Well, that’s okay; in this and the next couple of posts, you will learn a lot more about what Planning Poker is, what it is used for, and so on.
One of the most difficult parts in the Scrum model of development is to estimate the amount of effort needed to do the various tasks that are listed out in the Sprint Planning meeting. If this effort estimation is not accurate, at the time of the Demo at the end of the Sprint, the team would not have been able to complete all the items that the team sought to do in the Sprint Cycle. One of the techniques used for effort estimation during Scrum is called Planning Poker, where people use different cards representing hours of effort and bid for tasks.
Planning Poker is used as a means to let people come up with their estimation at the stage of Sprint Planning when estimation of efforts for the tasks needs to happen (and will happen after the features or user stories have been broken down into smaller discrete tasks). Once all the tasks have been listed, each task is pulled up, and discussions happen on the details for each task. Once the discussion has concluded, people need to put up an actual card up on their own; with different cards being displayed (representing different hours of effort). If it turns out that the cards converge to a similar kind of estimate, then that estimate is recorded; however, many times there is a variations in the estimates put by different people, and then some discussions needs to happen as to why different people give different estimates. Once this discussion is completed, another round of estimation is done, and final estimates are recorded.

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