Planning poker: play the game!

Planning poker is the basis for an efficient sprint planning. Make the most of your sprint and bring the fun factor into your team. In this blog you can read exactly why you should play poker during working hours, and how you and your team play the game.

Sprint planning

Essential for your agile team

In Scrum, the success of projects is determined by the efficiency of clearly defined goals. A new sprint always starts with a sprint planning meeting. In this meeting, the team plans which tasks will be done during the next sprint, and what the expectations of the end results of the tasks are.

It can be difficult to estimate how complex a task is and how much effort is needed to complete it, and this is where the planning poker game comes in handy! During the game the team estimates the amount of work needed to complete a task, and the result is a team-defined sprint planning that everyone agrees upon. Planning poker makes the sprint clear, efficient, easy and more fun.

Prep your game!

To get you and your team started, the first step is to prep your game and get ready for an efficient and fun planning poker game. All you need to do to prepare, is making sure that there is a backlog with already defined user stories or tasks. In the end, this is of course the basis of your whole sprint. The product owner should prioritize the backlog on forehand. Keep your priorities straight to get the most value out of your sprint!

Range of Fibonacci and T-shirt sizes

The PATboard planning poker cards use Fibonacci numbers and t-shirt sizes. Fibonacci numbers are characterized by the fact that the space between the numbers keeps increasing. The cards have the values 0, ½, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40 and 100, and t-shirt sizes from XS to XXL. The card numbers 0 – 5 are equal to the sizes XS – XXL. You can choose to use the numbers or the sizes when playing the game, whatever you prefer. 

Planning poker game

A short step by step manual

Now that the steps are taken to prepare the planning poker game, it is time to play!

  • Step 1. Every team member who is playing gets a set of cards.
  • Step 2. Select a user story or task that has to be done during the next sprint. When needed, the product owner or a team member explains the expectations on how the task has to be completed, and the other team members can ask questions to get a clear idea on this.
  • Step 3. It’s time to estimate the amount of effort needed or the complexity of the task compared to other tasks. Choose one of the poker cards with the value that you think is suited to the task.
  • Step 4. Now, everyone shows their card at the same time. The people who chose for the highest and lowest value explain their choice.
  • Step 5. And then a discussion starts, to eventually choose the value that everyone agrees on. If you want, you can play a new round to see if everyone chooses the same value now.  

The rule is that when your team is still unsure, or can’t come to an agreement, you choose the highest value for the task. This way you build up room for setbacks. It is better to have to add more tasks during the sprint than fail to meet deadlines or deliver items of less quality.

Playing poker during working hours: why?

All about the advantages

You might think that playing poker during working hours is a waste of time. Actually, the opposite is true. The hours that you ‘’lose’’ during the planning poker game will pay off in efficiency during the sprint. This is why you and your team should play planning poker:

  • The team brainstorms about the upcoming sprint collaboratively, which enhances teamwork and often leads to new insights. This also prevents possible issues or unclearness during the project process at a later moment.
  • The tasks and activities for the upcoming sprint are more clear and concrete. The team exactly knows what has to be done, what the priorities are and how much effort will be needed.
  • In the end, it is just a really fun and simple way to come to a goal oriented planning with your team.

About the PATboard planning poker cards

The PATboard planning poker cards have a colorful and clear design, which stimulates communication and fun in your team. Not only do they look good, they’re also made of high quality materials so you can keep using them for years.

PATboard planning poker cards package includes:

  • 5 sets of cards, so the game can be played with 5 team members. 
  • A coffee card in every set that indicates the need for a break. 
  • A question mark card in every set which you can use when you can’t make an estimation yet. 
  • A card that contains 6 easy guiding steps which take you through the process and explain how you play the game.

Questions? Feel free to contact us!

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