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InfoQ Interview: Experiences with Planning Poker

In this fourteen-minute InfoQ interview,  recorded at the Javazone conference in Norway, Nils Haugen described the "Planning Poker" technique his teams have been experimenting with. It is a simple mechanism for arriving at estimates collaboratively, with additional team building benefits. It is also likely to improve team estimates over time. Nils Haugen is an agile developer and coach with Objectnet in Norway and has also worked with XP/Agile teams at ThoughtWorks. Hear his views on why this simple technique is an important tool for Agile teams, in the InfoQ interview: Nils Haugen on Planning Poker.

The term "Planning Poker" was coined by James Grenning in a white paper in 2002, but the technique has also been used other places, and is described in Mike Cohn’s books on User Stories and Agile Estimating and Planning.It doesn't use regular playing cards, but rather each developer has an identical deck of half a dozen index cards numbered with increasing numbers of story points - this could be a simple sequence (1,2,3,4,5,6) or a Fibonnaci sequence (0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8). What's most important is not the cards themselves but way the team uses them.
The idea behind planning poker is simple. Individual stories are presented for estimation. After a period of discussion, each participant chooses from his own deck the numbered card that represents his estimate of how much work is involved in the story under discussion. All estimates are kept private until each participant has chosen a card. At that time, all estimates are revealed and discussion can begin again. (from
One notable benefit of using this technique is that it levels the playing field for both dominant and shy members, experts and novices. With this technique, each one must  be prepared to share the thinking behind each estimate - potentially injecting new ideas or identifying risks that might have been missed.

Despite our best efforts, it's not always possible for everyone to be in the room. A group of Agile trainers have provided a free, browser-based tool to help travelling team members or even distributed teams use Planning Poker, at

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