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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Distributed Team Planning Poker Tools

Planning Poker (PP) is among the most popular and effective estimation techniques available today.

But  a question here - "How can I play planning poker with teams that are geographically distributed"? There are likely many options to achieve this. Sharing a few common ones below:

Option-1: Chat Window (Tried, but leaves loop holes for biased points selection)
It is implied that communication mediums like GoTo or WebEx are used when teams are geographically distant. Once the requirements are clear, product owner can signal via an utter to give points and every member can use chat window of tools to put a number and hit enter.

Option-2: Webcam (I'm using this one in current project - Not great fun, But works!)
If communication medium used supports video conference with multiple people (Google+ video a free and popular one), one person takes responsibility of saying 1-2-3-Go and as soon as "Go" is said, teams can show up their cards on webcam. Since tools supporting multiple people video chat display them in a mosaic/tiles based views,  it is easy to grab figures at once.
A funny note: People tend to show up cards after watching other's. Ask every member to hold up their card facing backside on webcam. Once host asks to show, they'll flip it.

Option-3: Planning Poker.com (Good. But you can't change cards)
This website is from same organization which is pioneer in planning poker cards - Mountain goat software. It is free and allows moderator to create project, add stories and invite people (via emailing shared link) to participate in process. Any user who click on this link (needs no authorization) sees story and standard scrum cards. He can click on any scrum to post his thought on story complexity.

Option-4: Google Docs
Idea is simple: Create a spreadsheet in GoogleDoc and allow people to type their numbers.


Option-5: OneNote
This is pretty cool. Idea is similar to Google Docs but MS Office documents can be used for live synchronization and platform. Also usage is limited to desktop browser as people can post their opinions from smartphone too. If you're new to OneNote, probably http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dubGfyvrbI (he is funny) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP1OEx_i4Fg&feature=related should give an idea.


Option-6: JIRA plugin
If you're using JIRA for scrum management, it does has a plugin to integrate planning poker within JIRA UI.
You can find more details at http://www.jiraplanningpoker.com/

If you're using any other interesting creative option, please suggest!!!