We engaged in an exercise called Planning Poker. This is one of the Scrum estimation techniques for the team to effectively plan and execute a sprint planning session. Planning poker, also called Scrum poker, is a planning technique for estimating effort and time required for software development.

The “game” starts with each player holding a deck of card in their hands. Each player has some time to think individually before choosing a card, which in their opinion signifies the amount of time needed for the predetermined task to be done. There is no unit of time measurement on the cards, so the time unit can be communicated, or withheld until revealing. The card is then revealed at the same time for all players and the discussion ensues.

For my group, we had a wildly different expectation of the amount of time required to complete the task of creating a course module. With the two extremes vary 40 times. In the discussion it was revealed that there were different implications that the members didn’t take into consideration. The one with shortest time frame didn’t consider day-to-day tasks that will be added on top of the project, believing that the short amount is dedicated 100% to the focused single task. On the other spectrum, the longest time frame chosen has overestimated the scope of work that was given.

The Planning Poker discussion went on for 5 minutes and then proceeded to second round, doing the same task but with updated information. On the second round all the answers have converged in the middle, with a relatively insignificant differentiation between the answers.

The main advantage of Planning Poker is the absence of the initial “anchoring” effect. On every discussion, there will be someone starting with “I think…” that will lead to the anchoring of that opinion. For Planning Poker, everybody has time to think through so it leads to absence of influence from other participants.

This is a good technique that can be used in future management sessions. The physical cards serve as functional tools, however there are multiple online tools and mobile applications that serve the same purpose that we can utilise in the future.