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How Long Does a Planning Poker Session Take to Complete?

To know if you’re running your planning poker sessions effectively, you need to know how long it should last. So, how long does a planning poker session last?
October 29 · 4 min read
Learn how long a planning poker session should last to complete

Effort estimation is an important project activity since it facilitates achieving expected results by completing certain tasks on time. Product managers, project managers, and software developers all agree that estimation is difficult. Many software developers regard it as one of the most challenging aspects of their work.

The good news is that there are a variety of estimation methodologies to select from in the area of agile project management. Planning Poker is a popular strategy nowadays.

This post will guide you through a Planning Poker Session from start to finish.

Explaining Planning Poker

Planning poker is a task or project estimation strategy in which teams use a deck of poker cards to estimate the size or scope of various tasks. The technique aids groups in ensuring that everyone is given a reasonable amount of work for future sprints.

Teams review a selection of user stories or tasks from the product backlog in planning poker. Then each participant assesses how much effort that task will require on their own. Teams accomplish this by using a modified deck of cards with varying values.

Before they are all revealed at the same time, everyone chooses their card anonymously. This procedure allows teams to have an open and honest discussion about how much effort is required to achieve specific tasks or user stories. Following that, a panel of everyone's estimates will take place so that teams may agree on the amount of effort required to execute tasks.

How Long Does a Planning Poker Session Take

Typically, a planned poker session lasts 2-4 hours. There is no established time limit for each phase; thus, the scrum team's leader must make the final decision. The leader frequently makes adjustments based on various parameters, including the team's size and level of involvement, among other things.

As a result, a typical Planning Poker Session runs this course:

Distribution of Cards

Each player receives a deck of conventional playing cards or a set of bespoke designed Planning Poker cards. As suggested by Mike Cohn, each card will get assigned a value, such as 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, and 100.

If you are using standard cards, you will need to develop a theme for yourself, such as awarding 100 points to the King of Hearts. The numbers represent the number of story points, ideal days, or any other unit of estimation that the team utilizes.

The decks are limited, with a significant number of jumps, because the goal is for all participants to reach a consensus figure for each story. Giving participants too many options, such as any number between 1 and 50, would waste time because the outcomes would be too close across the board.

Discussion of the Story

Whoever is leading the session will read the user story to the group. This story gets followed swiftly by discussing several methods to the goal, an estimate of the number of people required, the skill sets needed, and any potential problems that may develop.

This opportunity is also excellent for the group to clarify any questions they have.

Estimation

After everyone has agreed on the user story, it is time to play poker.

Each participant will secretly choose a card from their deck to represent their story point estimation. When everyone has made their decision, the team reveals their cards at the same time. The higher the number on a participant's card, the more difficult it is expected to complete the task in the story.

Discussion of Findings with the Goal of Reaching Consensus

No two persons will likely reveal the same card. However, that number will become the official estimate if they do, and the team will move on to the next user story.

If the cards are not identical, the team will have to go over the user story again. Those who have played a higher or lower card than average will explain their reasoning to the rest. The purpose of their explanation is to persuade them to agree.

Once the second round of discussion gets completed, the team will play again. Depending on how the conversation went, the team will play a different card that matches the points given or play their first decision again if they are not convinced.

If the team decides to play the same cards as the initial draw, the outlier vote gets ignored, and the average rating is used as an estimate instead.

Aside from the Planning Poker Session, the leader must also schedule time for estimating preparation. There is no specific time to prepare for the estimation, just like there is no set time for the actual session because various circumstances come into play, such as whether or not this is your first Planning Poker session. First-timers will require more time to prepare than those who have prior experience. Moreover, the Planning Poker leader must examine the following elements during the planning phase:

  • Who to Invite
  • The Size of the Team
  • Who will Estimate

Activities to Complete after a Planning Poker Session

During a Planning Poker Session, there is a lot to track. As a result, you may overlook something important. Following that, here are some suggestions for what to do following a Planning Poker session:

  • Make a list of the final costs for each task.
  • Put the estimations in the backlog of your tracking tool.
  • Compile a list of all of the decisions and other important topics.
  • Briefly reflect on the meeting and brainstorm ways to improve future meetings.
  • If there are any follow-up actions, define and assign them.

Fortunately, most of these tasks are taken care of automatically when you use Async Poker to run your session. After the meeting, all participants can refer to the tool's estimations and discussions at any time.

Conclusion

The agile estimation process does not need to be difficult or time-consuming. On the contrary, if you have the right tools and tactics in your toolkit, the effort estimation process may be a fun and collaborative exercise for remote and distributed teams.

In this context, Async Poker makes it simple to run your next Planning Poker session.

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