When you start estimating your backlog as a team you may encounter some unexpected challenges. You then think of different ways to overcome them by trying different approaches to estimating, but the reality is whatever method you use you have to make sure it serves your team, your goals, and the way you work. This is why, when choosing the right tool it has to give you the freedom and flexibility in finding your favorite way to estimate and get your backlog ready for grooming and planning.
Here, I want to bring up and describe all the estimation modes currently available in Agile Poker for Jira and highlight some advantages and recommendations for each of them to help you identify and introduce the right method for your team.
Every meeting or session, where team members meet to estimate stories and work items has its own rules. You strive for accurate, reliable estimates based on which the team can commit to. Sometimes we are part of a team that can meet in the same office, sometimes it’s distributed, and work is done across different time zones.
If you are a Scrum Master you’re in the hunt for tools that enable realistic commitment and collaboration by providing flexible, and proven ways of estimating and planning.
As a Product Owner or Team Manager, on the other hand, getting trustworthy estimates for accurate planning by engaging team members in the process is your main goal. So you want to make sure the estimation you run enables discussion and helps to maintain the balance between the estimating process speed and required accuracy.
Sounds about right? Let’s start.
1. Play the Poker
Interactive Session in Agile Poker for Jira is based on Planning Poker®, the consensus-based, gamified estimating technique used to estimate effort or relative size of Backlog Items. In planning poker, team members make estimates by playing numbered cards face-down, instead of speaking them at loud. Then the votes are revealed and estimates discussed by the team. The voting rounds can be repeated until the consensus is reached.
This method works best if your team is located within the same time zone, or you simply want to estimate at the same time. This is important since the sessions are meant to be interactive and require the attention of every person participating in the session. Team members all participate and discuss the estimations. What’s convenient in Agile Poker Interactive Mode, is that it doesn’t really matter, whether a team is remote or co-located.
It is mostly used to estimate effort or relative size of user stories in Scrum. The most important thing is that the entire Scrum team is involved and it results in achieving reliable estimates.
Achieving reliable estimates during planning meetings could very often take a lot of time as it may take a few rounds of voting until the estimates converge to a single estimate that can be used for the Story. The number of those rounds could vary from one user story to another.
Choose Interactive Mode if:
- You estimate in Story Points with team members at the same time
- No matter if your team is distributed or co-located
- You want to facilitate discussion and consensus for better estimation accuracy and reliability
2. Estimate at your own pace
Standard Asynchronous sessions are designed for teams that can't or don't want to estimate simultaneously, but also it is widely used by teams who want all members to check out estimation scope and put questions before the joint team estimation. Many teams decide to use Asynchronous mode if they are working in a remote team or in different time zones.
It’s efficient and results in consultation based estimations. The flow for asynchronous sessions is inspired by the Wideband Delphi estimation method. Backlog Items and participants are selected by the session moderator who will then share the link to the session with selected team members. Then, participants estimate issues at their own convenience in the given time, putting the comments or questions to support the estimation, to discuss optionally later. Once all the votes are filled moderator closes the session and all estimates for issues are saved and optionally proceeds with further discussion interactively if needed.
While the interactive mode is about the instant exchange of opinions and reaching agreement as quickly and efficiently as possible, the asynchronous mode is all about estimating given issues at their own time with additional comments that will be then used for future analysis.
Choose Asynchronous Mode if:
- you are part of a remote team or;
- you just prefer estimating at your own pace;
- prefer estimations based on consultation to agree on meaningful commitment.
3. Let the magic happen
Relative Session that is inspired by the Magic Estimation Game, also known as ‘silent grouping’ or ‘affinity estimating’. This method is perfect for making pretty rough, relative estimations of many issues, as well as a small number of issues with detailed discussion. It consists of estimating tasks or user stories, not separately, but by comparing or grouping the items of equivalent difficulty or effort.
This method is really fast, easy, and very intuitive as the team doesn’t need to think of estimation values, but only compare one issue to another.
Magic Estimation is considered as an estimation method with a low level of issue discussion comparing to standard Planning Poker, but as a team, you can easily adjust it to the way you run the sessions.
Who is it recommended for? No matter if you work in a team that is new to estimates but also for mature teams with greater experience in estimating that want to speed up the estimation process. This method is for your team if you prefer a visual representation and interaction.
Choose Relative Mode if:
- your team has a low to moderate experience in Story Points estimation,
- you want to make quick and rough estimations of many issues,
- you want to run a detailed discussion for a small number of issues.
4. Throw them into the Buckets
Our newest addition to Agile Poker is finally here - the Bucket Sizing. This method lets you sort issues into pre-defined columns based on the estimation values. Similar to Relative, but here the process is more focused as the estimation values are already set, the issue is just dropped into the corresponding bucket.
The bucket sizing method is a very good alternative to try instead of Planning Poker. It could be potentially faster than Planning Poker and you still get sensible and reliable results.
Choose Bucket Sizing if:
- you want to do your estimations fast;
- you want to facilitate collaboration;
- you want to achieve relative results;
- you work with teams to estimate effort or with stakeholders to estimate value.
Over to you
Having tried all estimation methods I can openly say that It doesn’t really matter what method you use, as long as they work for you and your team and bring the expected result.
There are various tools like Agile Poker for Jira that can help you find a way that will fulfill your team’s needs. The App supports team managers in getting trustworthy estimates for accurate planning, by engaging team members in the process. It enables discussion and helps to maintain the balance between the estimating process speed and required accuracy.
Now your turn to choose the method that suits your team best. And if you are looking for the right tool for your estimation this article will help you make the decision. Share your feedback and let others learn from your experience. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and will be happy to connect.