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An Agile Alternative To The Planning Poker Estimation Technique

The planning poker estimation technique is a strategy teams use to estimate the work of agile stories taken from group feedback.
July 21, 2022 • Keshav Malik

Agile has been a buzzword in the last decade or so. Getting a team to produce software or a project to completion in short cycles is so powerful that many teams have adopted it. This post will look at a popular estimation technique called planning poker and demonstrate how LinearB's project delivery tracker is a better alternative.

Before diving into the post, let's first understand what agile is.

What Is Agile?

Agile, or agile development, is a term often used by software developers to describe a software development methodology that promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement. 

Agile is not a step-by-step methodology. It's a collection of values, principles, and concepts that, when implemented properly, can contribute to the success of any project.

Agile is a mindset that promotes rapid, flexible responses to change. Agile processes promote sustainable development, which means they're useful throughout the life of a project, not just at the beginning or the end.

What Is Planning Poker Estimation?

The planning poker estimation technique is a gamified strategy that agile teams use to approximate the work of agile stories. These estimations are taken from the entire group's feedback and agreement, making the estimation activity seriously captivating.

The planning poker estimation technique is a gamified strategy that agile teams use to approximate the work of agile stories.

How Planning Poker Estimation Technique Works

Let's break the technique into two different parts to understand it easily.

1. Initial Stage

Toward the start of a poker-arranging meeting, the product owner or client audits a nimble client story (product description and requirements) and peruses it aloud. 

Here's an example. Disperse an indistinguishable deck of cards to everyone. Everyone has a number that the group has consented to use as their gauge. Every player ought to have a deck comprising various numbers. Experts suggest utilizing the Fibonacci series or doubling the previous number.

These qualities can address a few things: the quantity of story focuses, optimal days, or different units that the group utilizes for assessment. The decks are purposefully kept insignificant with impressive number-hops. Doing this guarantees that for every story, everybody can arrive at an agreement number. Assuming they have a card for each number from one to 50, the cycle would be agonizing.

The mediator (the product owner or product director) portrays the story to the gathering. Assuming that members have inquiries, the arbitrator responds to them. When the gathering completes the process of paying attention to the story, everybody shares their perspectives on it.

2. After-Discussion Stage

After the discussion, each person will privately choose a card from the deck. Generally, it's used to show an estimate of story points, but it can also represent the number of ideal days. Once everyone selects a card, cards are revealed at the same time. 

Suppose a player shows a higher card. Remember that it's normal for estimates to fluctuate a ton.

When team members show the same card, that number turns into an accord. Now, the group can move forward and work on the next story.

However, if the cards continue to vary, further dialogues on the story will follow. Estimators with higher or lower estimates than others will communicate their points of view. Also, they'll attempt to persuade their teammates to understand their differing figures.

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Naturally, the estimates start to convene after the successive rounds. However, the process repeats until the team agrees on a single number. Once the team agrees on a single number, the number is decided as the estimated time or duration for the project.

Drawbacks of Planning Poker Estimation Technique

Planning poker is a great technique for estimating story points, but there are some drawbacks. This is true with most agile practices and tools. The first drawback of planning poker is that it can be time-consuming. It's recommended to use planning poker during sprint planning and not during daily standup meetings. 

Second, the more people you have on a team, the more variation you'll find in the estimates. It's always easier to get an agreement when you have fewer people on a team.

Third, while it's a simple technique, it seems to be one of the most complicated to explain to new team members.

Lastly, planning poker forces team members to estimate quickly. It's possible to have a long discussion about each card. Some teams discuss each card while they're estimating. Others just vote.

Teams of all sizes use planning poker. Each team is free to decide how they want to use planning poker.

LinearB's PDT: An Agile Alternative to Planning Poker

LinearB's project delivery tracker is an agile alternative to the planning poker technique and blends technical and business inputs to create a single source of truth for development leaders. It's a simple, web-based tool that connects project managers and product owners to the team by providing better visibility and insight.

The tool allows stakeholders to collaborate, prioritize, and simply visualize the sprint backlog. It automatically computes the effort, velocity, and estimates of each product backlog item. The tool also allows you to track the business impact of your work and the technical debt of your codebase at the same time.

LinearB correlates project management and Git and releases data to assist you with visualizing, surfacing, and addressing the things that can influence following through on your guarantees. 

It's straightforward: better planning accuracy = improved delivery = more business esteem.

Also read: Engineering Metrics Benchmarks: What Makes Elite Teams?

Advantages of Using LinearB's PDT

At the end of the day, you have to have a solid product to succeed. And that means you need to manage your time and resources as efficiently as possible. This is why so many companies are turning to LinearB's PDT.

It's straightforward: better planning accuracy = improved delivery = more business esteem.

LinearB is a powerful and easy-to-use project tracking tool that can make your entire project management process much more efficient. It's a great solution for any company that struggles to keep track of the progress of their projects or for any company that's looking for an alternative to other project management tools.

Using LinearB's PDT, you can easily create multiple teams—such as for back end, front end, security, etc.—and directly review the activity from the dashboard. 

When working with agile methodology, it's important to keep an eye on metrics such as cycle time, coding time, PR (pull request) size, and much more, where LinearB's PDT metrics come in. 

Important metrics for agile teams

The advantages of further developing planning accuracy with LinearB, when contrasted with the planning poker estimation technique, are as follows.

For Developers

  • Self-advocacy with more excellent permeability into all work during a sprint
  • Better alignment to the priorities of the team and the organization
  • Fewer fire drills and errands that are dreary or simply no fun

For Managers

  • Track progress against a project's tasks or work items
  • Monitor and report on progress against the project plan
  • Have the option to make key decisions like chipping away tech debt more readily

For Leaders

  • Have faith in status reports and road map updates
  • Deliver on vows to the business
  • Have capacity to feature what engineering is doing unhesitatingly
Let's do pr for pull requests

Summary

It's no secret that planning poker is a hugely popular estimation technique. Its ability to help teams estimate large, complex work items and provide estimation consensus across the team makes it such a staple in scrum and agile teams.

However, planning poker has its limitations. LinearB's PDT (project delivery tracker) is a powerful tool that helps you estimate items more accurately to plan better. We'd love to share it with you. Get in touch today to request a demo!

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