What is the Expected Output of a Planning Poker Meeting?Planning Poker is a consensus-based estimation technique that requires the contribution of the key team members to make the meeting result in fruitful outputs.
Planning Poker is a popular estimation technique used by thousands of Scrum teams to estimate their product backlogs efficiently. Its simple consensus-based estimation approach has attracted many Scrum teams to regularly conduct Planning Poker estimation sessions for their product backlog items. Although it's undeniable that Planning Poker is quickly becoming the preferred choice of more and more Scrum teams, the question is what to expect as an output from a Planning Poker meeting? So, let's explore this point in-depth and see the expected output of a Planning Poker meeting.
Expected Output of a Planning Poker Meeting
When the customer or product owner reads user stories in front of the team, it results in many fruitful outputs for the product, team, and the organization. So, the expected output of a Planning Poker meeting is not just confined to one specific point, but it results in multiple beneficial outputs. Therefore, some of the major expected outputs of a Planning Poker meeting are as follows:
1. Refined/Prioritized Product Backlog
One of the important outputs of a Planning Poker meeting is a refined/prioritized product backlog. The product owner usually prioritizes the items in a product backlog prior to the Planning Poker meeting, but the team discussion results in more refinement and better prioritization. Once the team listens to the user story and begins the discussion, the members analyze all the complications they have to deal with to complete that item. Moreover, they also get to know the importance of the item in the product's success and also know if a more prioritized item can be completed first. So, if there are some elements that the product owner missed while preparing the product backlog, then the meeting will be of great help in prioritizing the product backlog in the right way.
2. Better Team Understanding
Another expected output of a Planning Poker meeting is a better collaborative team understanding of the key tasks that the members are going to work on for the next few months. When team members have a clear view of the lined-up tasks, they are well-prepared beforehand on what to expect. They know the possible hurdles, the direction to proceed, and the approach they have to adopt. In short, the team's understanding results in more timely deliveries, fewer uncertainties, and more quality deliveries.
3. Focused Sprint Planning
Sprint planning is a meeting session conducted before the beginning of the sprint, which is meant to set the deliveries of the current sprint. During every sprint, the team takes up some items from the product backlog and tries to complete them in that sprint. So, a sprint planning meeting is an event where the team decides which items to complete in the next sprint. So, another expected output of the Planning Poker meeting is to provide a prioritized product backlog that makes sprint planning a more efficient and focused process. When the team knows the efforts required to complete the product backlog items, the sprint planning becomes a lot easier, more focused, and more productive.
4. Training Employees
Planning Poker meeting gives everyone the chance to contribute. Whether it's a newcomer or an experienced developer, everyone can contribute during the discussion. In case someone is hesitant to speak up during the story point discussion, then his/her estimates can speak up for themselves. For example, if that member gave the lowest or highest size compared to other members, then the team will demand that member to provide justification. The forced estimation and forced discussion let everyone contribute. So, another expected outcome of Planning Poker is training employees and raising their analytical expertise.
5. Projection of Team's Velocity
During the Planning Poker meeting, the team members estimate all the user stories based on the efforts required to complete them. They even use past estimates as a reference to make the right estimates. At the end of the meeting, the team has the estimates of all the user stories, which then helps to project a more accurate team velocity. It is because estimates done through Planning Poker are consensus-based, which results in more accurate estimates. So, another expected output of the Planning Poker meeting is a better projection of the team's velocity.
Planning Poker is a simple and effective way of doing estimates of product backlogs. It requires that teams conduct the meeting rightly with all the key team members to ensure that they can extract the above-mentioned outputs efficiently. However, if the team struggles to achieve accurate estimates during the meeting, then it can try out the modified Planning Poker technique, i.e., Asynchronous Poker or Async Poker. This technique is meant to serve those teams that struggle with some stages of the Planning Poker technique but still want to achieve all the above-mentioned outputs.