Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Exercise: Planning poker scenario

Scenario: You are a member of a joint committee of Engineers Ireland and the Irish Software Association tasked with developing instructional documentation, training videos and conducting an outreach programme for secondary schools.
Your goal: Excite students about a career in bridge design!
The volunteers are ‘sizing’ the effort needed to deliver educational exercises addressing stated requirements. Mary is facilitating the workshop. Yi and Daniel are engineers.
Yi started; “This kind of estimation technique is called ‘planning poker.’”
“What’s planning poker?” asked Daniel.
“It’s an approach to overcoming some of the difficulties surrounding estimation” said Mary. “The problem of different people anchoring their estimates in others’ figures, you know, when the first person picks a number out of the air, and you go along with it just because it’s out there”.

Yi added; “We have a list of stories captured from the requirements study.” (Table 1)
Mary explained, “Our goal is to size these stories for the next iteration. We’ll be using the story points I talked about before, remember this is just to get a general feel for the size and difficulty of the story before we talk about how long it will take.”

“Shouldn’t I be thinking in terms of how long it’ll take?” said Daniel.
“Not yet,” said May, “this way we’ll get a general feel for the size, complexity, and difficulty of the story, and maybe even agree some of the detail and what the story means.”
Yi spoke up, “each of you take the numbered cards. Think of estimates ranging between ‘small, medium, and large’. We deal with duration after we’ve got a feel for difficulty and complexity.”

Note: Estimation challenges include: anchoring behaviour, task misinterpretation, not understanding one task's relationship to other tasks.

References and Links
Inspired by ‘Agile Estimating and Planning’ (Cohn, 2006).