Planning Poker Guide

Updated on 2024-05-27 (first published on 2024-03-12)


Planning Poker taps into the team’s collective wisdom, cultivates open discussions, and offers accurate estimates. It drives teams to compare task complexities relatively rather than fixate on absolute figures. By revealing everyone’s estimates simultaneously, it preserves unbiased input and includes every voice in the decision process, encouraging diversity and team ownership. Teams can also adopt various estimation scales, like precise Fibonacci sequence or simple T-Shirt sizes, to suit their unique work styles and needs.

Use Cases

The planning poker tool can be used for more than regular estimation sessions. For example fist of five voting to quickly gauge the team’s confidence in a decision, or simple Yes or No votes.

Key Features

  • Different Scales. You can choose between different estimation scales like Fibonacci, T-Shirt sizes, or Fist of Five voting.
  • Quick setup or specific items. You can skip adding items for a quick impromptu estimation session, or add specific items for a more structured approach.
  • Statistics. Get unique statistics for each estimation session.

How to Use

1. Set Up a Planning Poker Session

  • Choose your participation level - becoming a facilitator or a participant.
  • Select a scale for estimation (refer below).
  • Opt for additional cards like ‘No idea’ (question mark) or ‘Need a break’ (coffee) if necessary.

2. Add Estimation Items (Optional)

  • Host sessions without items if you’re managing tracking externally or the estimation order is unclear.
  • Items get estimated in the order they are added. Use the drag-and-drop feature to adjust their sequence. You’ll get a list of all items after the session.

3. Invite Participants

  • Invite participants by sharing the session link, passcode, or the displayed QR code.
  • Mid-session, you can add attendees using the in-game action menu.

4. Start Estimating

5. View Game Summary

  • Once all participants provide estimates for all items, a game summary appears. This presents each item’s estimated size, average, median, and distribution data.

Facilitation Tips

  • Minimize detailed pre-discussions about an item to evade anchoring bias and unnecessary time expenditure. Concentrated conversations that underline the objective and purpose typically manifest as both more productive and time-efficient.
  • Should the team lack alignment, request the members with the highest and lowest votes to provide their rationale. This fosters understanding and helps guide the team towards consensus.
  • Conduct cross-functional estimations, limiting to one estimate per item to enhance comprehension of the item’s complexity. This approach not only boosts the accuracy of estimates but also facilitates the development of T-shaped skills over time.

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Learn how to run a successful planning poker session. Discover the benefits, process, and tips for reaching consensus in a cross-functional team.