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Ulassa Planning Poker® cards –
effort estimation for agile projects!

Gamify the estimated effort and complexity of your upcoming tasks. Ideal for agile teams!

Estimate
effort together!

Ideal for agile
projects!

A fun way to
reach a consensus!

Planning Poker (also known as Scrum Poker or Agile Poker) is a fun way to make project management more efficient and agile. Proven to increase productivity in the long term, Scrum Poker also creates an ideal workflow for all involved, both by enabling realistic effort estimation for user stories and by making optimal use of resources within a team. Read on to find out more about how Planning Poker works.

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thumb_01_90_90»The pictures have made things much better: instead of always having to think in numbers (days, hours, weeks), the cards make the whole project clearer and are especially fun for newcomers.« – Sandy, Scrum Master

What is Planning Poker®?

Planning Poker, also known as Scrum Poker, is an intelligently crafted, team-based method of optimising project flow and concrete task distribution within developer teams. Planning Poker was designed to help specifically with effort estimation, which forms a significant part of any Scrum for professional project planning in software development. The agile poker deck is a fun way to help teams generate optimal output and ensure excellent product backlog maintenance.

Agile Planning Poker is a completely different method of tackling the traditionally rigid task of project management, as it allows for an agile approach using existing requirements and resources. Continuous communication between all involved is essential: from the developer team to the Scrum Master and the Product Owner (PO), to stakeholders and their constant flow of new requirements.

What is the principle behind Agile Planning Poker®?

Agile project management favours a holistic approach – taking into account the wishes of the stakeholders, the PO’s vision and all resources at the team’s disposal. Scrum Poker brings everybody together around the table to have fun while establishing all necessary information, drawing up the status quo for a project and clarifying the all-important effort estimation.

This allows teams to react quickly to changes or new requirements, whether stakeholder requests or new demands brought about by changes in the market. Tasks within the team can also be redistributed in Sprint planning with no noticeable losses, and feedback loops can be kept small.

Planning Poker helps teams to generate optimum output first and foremost by ensuring developers’ specific abilities can be utilised in full. Each employee has his or her own field of expertise, experiences and perspectives to offer regarding user stories and features. Ulassa Planning Poker cards use these to establish continuous communication and figure out which developer would be most qualified to tackle which user story. The game uses the intrinsic proficiencies of all involved, as each player starts by making their own hidden estimations themselves, laying their chosen hand face-down without showing it to the others. This removes any kind of ‘anchoring bias’, or the unconscious sway of other people’s points of view over one’s own.

Keep it simple. But efficient.

Planning Poker not only makes project management more agile: it also helps to establish boundaries. Thanks to regular and open communication in the Scrum, the Product Owner can intervene early before the team becomes overburdened and before efficiency becomes compromised by new requirements. The game helps put a project management strategy into place rapidly – all while keeping it realistically planned and tailoring it perfectly to your team.

What are the advantages of Planning Poker®?

Awesome! Why Planning Poker® makes the team happier.

In addition to optimised task distribution, the game also boosts team motivation. As individual user stories are taken on by developers using the PULL principle rather than PUSH, task distribution develops in a way tailored specifically to the resources at hand. Individual capacities, fields of expertise and even preferences regarding subject areas are automatically taken into account. Scrum Poker therefore not only makes a more efficient developer team, but also a happier one.

The task distribution process ensures that everybody plays to their strengths as much as possible, that everybody is included in the process, and that all team members pull together. It creates a transparent way of working with clear areas of responsibility.

Planning Poker is an exciting analogue activity that provides variety and offers a haptic alternative to day-to-day digital work.

A collaborative, agile and efficient way to meet your goals.

Where can Planning
Poker® be used?

Planning Poker is the perfect tool for enabling the implementation of agile project management within a company. Both IT enterprises and developers benefit from the fact that agile project management creates an optimised workflow and ensures all requirements in a project are met: the prompt handling of a user story, timely completion of the most valuable user story at a particular time, and high-quality processing of any user story. Both potential risks and desired outcome are taken into account. The key prerequisite for succeeding with Planning Poker is that everybody involved must have an agile mindset throughout the process – including the stakeholders.

Is your team overburdened? Is the quality of your user stories suffering? Does your product backlog now block the light at the end of the tunnel? If the Product Owner has long since lost control of the Scrum, Planning Poker offers an innovative way to optimise the Scrum process while working in a structured yet flexible way that can be sustained in the long term.

When should you
decide to use
für Planning Poker®?

Does Planning Poker® work?

The optimised outcome will start to become clear in just a few Sprints. After a short familiarisation period for employees, the new Scrum processes created using Planning Poker will increase both the flexibility and the quality of the project, in addition to minimising risk (e.g. of technical debt).

The Planning Poker® card set from Ulassa

 

Planning Poker® numbers – the Fibonacci sequence

In order to provide a realistic effort estimation, Scrum Poker uses the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. This sequence demonstrates a biological growth process and can also be applied to many different areas: in this case, to effort estimation in software development.

What is the Fibonacci sequence?

Named after Leonardo da Pisa, an Italian mathematician better known as Fibonacci, the sequence comprises a series of natural numbers starting with 0 (the leading number) and 1, continuing with the next number always being the sum of its two predecessors. So, after 0 and 1 also comes 1, as 0 plus 1 equals 1. The sequence is infinite:

Fibonacci sequence:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc.

Why is the Fibonacci sequence so special?

The Fibonacci sequence makes it possible to visualise exponential growth, thereby also facilitating long-term estimation. This has many advantages for forecasting in project management, and can be used as a starting point for differentiated decision-making. Ulassa Planning Poker takes this approach.

Why is it used in planning by Scrum teams?

Along with effort estimation, the Fibonacci sequence also takes into account the uncertainties that come with processing user stories, and therefore helps to create a promising project estimation. Scrum Poker uses a simplified version of the Fibonacci sequence in order to classify a user story as precisely as possible using only a few parameters.

The sequence for Planning Poker runs as follows:
0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100.

The range from 0 to 100 allows enough values to be gathered and used for creating a plausible estimation, while also offering a reasonable framework of limitations.

Planning Poker® as an
estimation technique

People tend to be able to assess small tasks and user stories very well, but often start to have problems when judging the resources necessary for large or especially complex tasks. The simple, intelligently crafted Planning Poker deck offers a solution to this. Every card has a specific value that reflects the size and complexity of a particular task. For example: while the ‘1’ card contains a picture of a baby, meaning that the developer would estimate the completion of the request to be child’s play, the ‘100’ card comes with a picture of an iceberg, ¾ of which is underwater. This signifies that the task would require an extremely high amount of effort, and would present many risks that would be difficult to initially assess. This provides a clear overview of how the effort and complexity of individual user stories is generally estimated, and who within the team can offer the best resources to tackle a particular task as efficiently as possible.

Ulassa Planning Poker®: instructions, gameplay and rules

How does Planning Poker work? Here is all the information you need about how to play, including instructions and game rules:

Planning Poker® instructions

The ideal roster for a round of Planning Poker comprises a moderator, who is not involved in the game but who takes the lead throughout, the Scrum Master, the Product Owner (to field any queries), and all developers involved in the project.

Planning Poker® gameplay and rules

  • Each of the developers receives a set of 13 Planning Poker cards that are aligned with the Fibonacci sequence, as explained above.
    After the Scrum Master has presented and explained the user stories (i.e. the content of the product backlog) with the help of the PO, each team member chooses the card from their set that best reflects their personal effort estimation for a particular user story.
  • The numbers are laid face-down at first to prevent any outside influence on each developer’s decision.
  • After everybody has laid their cards face-down, they are then turned over and the effort estimates for a particular user story are discussed. Any especially low or high cards take priority, so that a constructive discussion can take place to reach a consensus. From time to time, one user story may require several rounds.
  • The moderator places a time limit on each individual round to prevent discussions escalating.

Tip: normally, the Product Owner should not join in with the estimations, as this could falsify results due to conflicts of interest. It could also be the case that the PO does not have the technical expertise to provide an objective enough viewpoint for estimating complexity.

Planning Poker® for IT and developers: Made in Germany

Why not try our high-quality Planning Poker cards and see the benefits for yourself? Our intelligently crafted, innovative game leads to a higher level of software development efficiency. Planning Poker helps teams integrate a structured approach into the Scrum process with ease, which in turn allows them to deal with new requirements in a flexible and results-oriented way.

Planning Poker® estimation cards for Scrum: low cost, great value

There are 53 cards in the Planning Poker deck, which are sorted into four different coloured sets. Each set contains 13 cards with the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40 and 100. There is also one question mark card.

  • 53 cards in a deck: 4 x 13 playing cards, 1 cover card
  • 1 short description in English, German, Spanish and French
  • Up to 4 players per round, with 13 cards per person.

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Planning Poker:

What is the minimum team size for Planning Poker?

Ulassa Scrum Poker was designed for four team members, but it can also be extended using additional decks. However, we recommend including no more than 8-10 players per round, so discussions remain efficient and both teams and moderators can keep track of the bigger picture.

Why are Story Points used in place of hours in Planning Poker?

Story Points enable teams to draw comprehensive conclusions about effort estimation. When time investment, or cost, or other parameters are considered in isolation, teams have a tendency to get stuck on just one aspect and are usually unable to see the wood for the trees in the process of project planning. It is here that Parkinson’s Law comes into play; the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. This phenomenon can lead not only to the inefficient processing of user stories, but also to the unnecessary draining or inflation of budgets.
Story Points offer a holistic perspective and facilitate a sensible forecast – and while they may not immediately provide the highest output, they tend to offer the best output in the long term.

How many card decks do I need?

The number of Planning Poker decks required depends on the extent to which you plan to use this method of project management. Do you have a lot of developer teams who need to complete a range of different tasks? In that case, one deck per team would be right for you. If you have only one large team, we would recommend three decks, as Planning Poker works best with no more than 8-10 players.

How often should I use Planning Poker in the course of a project?

The best way to use Ulassa Planning Poker is in the context of a refinement meeting, which is ideally to be held once or twice per week. This one to two-hour meeting should focus on the product vision and the product backlog that comes with it. This product backlog should be updated, prioritised and estimated at these meetings. The meeting should include the Product Owner, the developer team, the Scrum Master and, where applicable, the stakeholders.

Agile Starter Box

Our Starter Box for Agile Planning Poker contains everything you need to get started straight away with agile project management. The set consists of more than 500 pieces, including two Planning Poker card sets with 53 cards each.

The Agile Starter Box includes:

  • Planning Poker cards (card sets with clear illustrations)
  • Knowledge Cards (for developer skill estimation)
  • Scrum guide (a detailed tutorial for implementing agile management using Poker cards)
  • Scrum flow poster (shows status quo, potential and requirements at a glance)
  • Awesome cards (cards to motivate and express appreciation)
  • Awesome notes (notes to motivate and express appreciation)
  • Badges for all team members
  • Further information on how to integrate Scrum Poker