Agile Estimation Technique: Planning Cards

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Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ has Planning Cards as a tool to help agile teams estimate work. Excerpts of the information and instructions—which are included with each deck of the cards—follow. This article is for those interested in getting an overview.

About These Planning Cards

  • These cards are used to help estimate work
  • Each deck contains four sets of cards—enough for four estimators
  • Each of the four sets has a unique color on the front side of cards—it’s in either blue, green, orange, or yellow
  • Cards are based on the Fibonacci sequence, where every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding numbers
  • Each set includes cards with the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and "?"
  • Each deck comes in a storage case

Purpose

These cards and instructions support the most popular approach to estimating work in Scrum projects—estimating the complexity of work via story points.

The Development Team—which may be comprised of business analysts, coders, testers, etc.—collaboratively estimates each item in the product backlog in story points. Story points are a relative measure of complexity.

Participants

  • Product Owner
  • Development Team
  • Scrum Master (facilitator/observer)

Frequency

  • Once or twice per sprint

Time-box

  • One hour for each week of the sprint
  • It’s a common practice to limit each meeting to one hour and have multiple meetings as appropriate

Prerequisites/Inputs

  • Product backlog containing user stories, bugs, and other requirements
  • One set of planning cards for each member of the Development Team

Suggested Steps

1. If each member of the Development Team does not already have their own set of planning cards, the Scrum Master provides materials as needed

2. The Product Owner describes an item (a user story, bug, or other requirement) from the product backlog and mentions its intent and business value

3. Each member of the Development Team silently picks a card best representing their assessment of the complexity of the work and places the card face-down

4. After all of the Development Team members have made their selections, the cards are turned face-up, and the values are read aloud

5. If all of the selections have the same value, the Product Owner records it as the estimate, and that completes the exercise for the item; otherwise, proceed to the next step

6. Team member(s) who gave an outlier value —such as someone who gave a high value and/or someone who gave a low value—explain their reasoning

7. After a brief discussion, the team may take the most common value (the mode average) as the estimate or they may play another round of this planning game (steps 3-7)

8. Steps 2-7 are repeated until each item in the product backlog has been estimated

9. The Product Owner updates the product backlog with the estimate values

Options

Some organizations use a subset of the cards and slice product backlog items when the estimate is "too large." Here's an example:

  • Development Team uses cards with the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21
  • Predetermined that 21 is "too large"
  • If a product backlog item is estimated at 21, it is sliced into two or more parts in collaboration with the Product Owner, and the resulting smaller items are estimated by the Development Team

★★★★★

This article provided a quick overview of an aspect of estimation in agile projects. Further details—including more information on the Fibonacci sequence, and additional options—are provided in the book, Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. Agile Scrum is available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon. For additional information, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.

★★★★★

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For more information, you can
review what we do, see who we are, check out our infographics, read additional stories from our blog, and visit our newsroom.



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Estimation Tool for Agile Teams: Produce Planning Cards (Limited Edition)

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Planning cards help agile teams estimate work. Decks of the cards were originally distributed as a promotional item. Reactions were incredibly positive, and several people asked how they could get their own set. Based on demand, Produce Planning Cards™ (Limited Edition) are now available for purchase. This article covers what's included, product information, suggested guidelines for use (including a video), and how to get them—while supplies last.

What's Included

  • Each deck of Produce Planning Cards™ contains four sets of cards—enough for four estimators

  • Each of the four sets has a unique color on the front side of cards—it’s in either blue, green, orange, or yellow

  • Cards are based on the Fibonacci sequence, where every number after two is the sum of the two preceding numbers

  • Each set includes cards with the following values and images:

——— 0 (No picture)
——— 1 (Blueberry)
——— 2 (Cherry)
——— 3 (Strawberry)
——— 5 (Plum)
——— 8 (Apple)
——— 13 (Orange)
——— 21 (Coconut)
——— 34 (Pineapple)
——— "?” (No picture)

  • Each deck includes instructions

  • Each deck comes in a storage case

Product Information

  • Type of cards: Poker sized

  • Number of cards per deck: 54

  • Dimensions in inches: 2.48 x 3.46

  • Dimensions in mm: 63 x 88

  • Printing: Full color print

  • Material stock: 330 GSM professional weight stock

  • Material finish: Finest quality, superior smooth finish

  • Material sourcing: Printer sources materials from well-managed forests, and it supports green practices

  • Printer: Printer is a prominent manufacturer in the gaming industry

Suggested Guidelines for Use

The product page is referenced at the end of this article. That page includes a PDF with suggested guidelines for use—and more. A video (shown below) also covers the topic.


Produce Planning Cards™ Help Agile Teams Estimate Work from Scott Graffius on Vimeo.



How to Get Them

Produce Planning Cards™ are available here: http://exceptional-pmo.com/Produce-Planning-Cards/. While supplies last!

Items ship within the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico via USPS Priority Mail in a small flat rate box with delivery confirmation.


★★★★★


You're invited to connect with Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ on social. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

For more information, you can
review what we do, see who we are, check out our infographics, read additional stories from our blog, and visit our newsroom.

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