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How to Estimate User Stories with Planning Poker

How to Estimate User Stories with Planning Poker

How to Estimate User Stories with Planning Poker – Transcript

Hi, Philip Chesney here from AgiFall. In today’s video, we are going to see how to estimate user stories with planning poker. 


Planning Poker Basics – What, Why, and How

What: Planning poker is a simple game that can be played among the team to estimate user stories.

Why: Estimating user stories can help us determine how much work can be done during a sprint/iteration. As you determine your average velocity after a few iterations, you will focus on the amount of user stories you can deliver in that period.

How: To get started, all the team needs a series of cards with the following numbers on each card: 0,1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13.

We will use these cards to estimate the story points for each user story.


Basics 2

Now before we go and start our game, the team needs to understand which stories should be worth a 2 and a 5. Grab your backlog and pick out a user story. Try to find a story that the team can agree is worth two and try to get one that is worth 5. It is important that we get this consensus from the beginning, because this will make playing planning poker more accurate.


Game Facilitation

Someone will need to facilitate the game. It could be the PO, scrum master or even a team member. To measure each story, the facilitator chosen will read a user story. “As a user, I want to be able to login to my account using Facebook to make sign in easier.”

Once the story is read, the team will discuss it amongst themselves. After a brief discussion of the story, it is time to vote. On a count of 1, 2, 3, everyone flips over their cards. It is important that everyone flips at the same time as to not influence other team mate’s decisions.


Example 1

For example, let’s say that John, Steven, Maria, Sally, and Billy all Flipped their cards for the user story. The scores were:

Steven: 5

Maria 5

Sally 3

John: 5

Billy 5

Since all the stories were very close in size, we will take 5 as our estimate for the story. You may however ask Sally why she came in lower than the others.


Example 2

Now let’s take the same user story mentioned above along with the same team. Cards are flipped and our results is:

Steven: 5

Maria 5

Sally 13

John: 5

Billy 5

This time we have a huge difference from 5 to 13. Thirteen would be a huge user story to complete. The facilitator now needs to fish for information and probe it with questions. Ask Sally why she thinks the story should be 13. Try to get a semi in-depth explanation here. Once you have gotten the explanation, it is time to vote on the same story again. See if the new vote results changed sally’s mind to come in with a lower number or did it influence the rest of the team to come in higher.

The story estimation may or may not have changed. Once you have decided on it, move on to the next user story and continue voting.  


Wrap Up

Planning poker is a fun and collaborative way to reach consensus on how many story-points a user story is worth. You should now know how to estimate user stories with planning poker!

I hope that you have liked today’s short tip and can put it into practice. Feel free to drop me any comments, questions, and even mention the ways that you play planning poker at your company. Please share your comment in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel.  

For more how-to videos for PMs and the series on professional interviews, visit the Youtube channel.  If you are getting ready for your PMP Certification, visit the Get-Certified Articles section. 

1 Comment

  1. Really great article. Thank you!

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