BlogScrumWhy use planning poker online for your teams.

Why use planning poker online for your teams.

Planning poker is a technique used in Agile development to estimate the effort required for each task in a project. It helps teams collaborate and make informed decisions by combining the expertise of all team members. This article explores the concept of planning poker, its importance in Agile development, the transition to online planning poker, available tools for online planning poker, how to conduct online planning poker, and case studies of successful and unsuccessful implementations.

Understanding the Concept of Planning Poker

Before diving into the specifics of online planning poker, it is essential to understand the core concept of planning poker itself.

Planning poker is a consensus-based estimation technique where participants use numeric values, typically based on Fibonacci numbers, to estimate the effort required for each task. It is a collaborative process that allows team members to share their knowledge, experience, and insights to arrive at a shared understanding of the work ahead.

By incorporating multiple perspectives, planning poker helps ensure that the estimation process is not overly influenced by a single individual. This method harnesses the collective intelligence of the team and leads to more accurate and reliable estimates.

What is Planning Poker?

Planning poker is a game-like activity where each participant independently estimates the effort associated with a task and then reveals their estimate simultaneously. It is often played using a deck of special cards, with each card representing a specific numeric value.

After the cards are revealed, any discrepancies or differences in estimates are discussed. The team members have an opportunity to share their reasoning and insights, allowing the group to converge on a consensus estimate. This process continues until a shared understanding and agreement are reached.

The Importance of Planning Poker in Agile Development

Planning poker is a crucial tool in Agile development for several reasons:

  1. Collaboration: Planning poker fosters collaboration and encourages active participation from all team members. By involving everyone, it ensures that each person’s insights and perspectives are taken into account during the estimation process.
  2. Accuracy: Through shared discussions and deliberations, planning poker helps the team arrive at more accurate estimates. By leveraging the collective intelligence of the team, it reduces the potential for biased or inaccurate estimates.
  3. Transparency: Planning poker promotes transparency by making estimation and decision-making processes visible to everyone. This transparency enhances trust within the team and creates a shared sense of ownership over the project.
  4. Learning: The discussions and debates that arise during planning poker sessions provide valuable learning opportunities. Team members can gain new insights into the work, learn from each other’s expertise, and improve their understanding of the project as a whole.

Moreover, planning poker encourages open communication within the team. By allowing each team member to express their estimation independently, it prevents the influence of dominant personalities and ensures that all perspectives are considered. This inclusive approach fosters a sense of equality and respect among team members, creating a positive and productive team environment.

Another benefit of planning poker is its adaptability. The use of Fibonacci numbers for estimation allows for a more nuanced approach to estimating effort. The sequence of Fibonacci numbers, where each number is the sum of the two preceding ones (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.), reflects the inherent uncertainty and complexity of software development. By using this sequence, planning poker acknowledges that some tasks may have a higher level of uncertainty or complexity than others.

Planning poker also helps teams identify potential risks and challenges early on in the project. Through the discussions that arise during estimation, team members can share their concerns, ask clarifying questions, and address any potential roadblocks. This proactive approach allows the team to make informed decisions and develop mitigation strategies to minimize risks.

In addition to its practical benefits, planning poker can also have a positive impact on team dynamics. The collaborative nature of the activity fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. As team members work together to reach a consensus, they develop a shared understanding and ownership of the project. This shared commitment and sense of belonging can increase motivation and productivity, leading to better outcomes.

In summary, planning poker is a valuable technique in Agile development that promotes collaboration, accuracy, transparency, and learning. By incorporating multiple perspectives and leveraging the collective intelligence of the team, it enables more accurate estimates and better decision-making. Furthermore, planning poker encourages open communication, adaptability, risk identification, and positive team dynamics. It is a powerful tool that can contribute to the success of Agile projects.

The Transition to Online Planning Poker

As technology continues to evolve, many teams are now opting for online planning poker instead of traditional in-person sessions. This transition offers several advantages but also presents unique challenges that need to be addressed.

Why Move Planning Poker Online?

Moving planning poker online provides teams with increased flexibility and accessibility, especially in remote and globally distributed environments. By conducting sessions virtually, team members can participate from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for physical presence.

Online planning poker also offers advantages such as easier tracking and record-keeping, as well as built-in features for generating reports and analyzing estimation data. Additionally, it allows for the integration of other tools, such as project management software, which further streamlines the planning and execution process.

Moreover, online planning poker enables teams to leverage the power of data analytics. By collecting and analyzing estimation data over time, teams can identify patterns and trends that can inform future planning and decision-making. This data-driven approach enhances the accuracy and reliability of estimates, leading to more effective project planning and resource allocation.

Challenges in Transitioning to Online Planning Poker

While online planning poker offers numerous benefits, it is not without its challenges.

One of the primary hurdles is ensuring that all team members have access to reliable internet connectivity and suitable devices for participating in the sessions. Technical issues such as audio/video lag or platform compatibility can also disrupt the smooth flow of online planning poker.

Moreover, the absence of physical presence in online sessions can make it challenging to establish a sense of camaraderie and connection among team members. In traditional in-person sessions, participants can engage in informal conversations and build rapport, which can enhance collaboration and teamwork. Finding ways to recreate this collaborative environment virtually becomes crucial in online planning poker.

Additionally, the lack of non-verbal cues in online sessions can hinder effective communication. In physical sessions, participants can rely on facial expressions, gestures, and body language to convey their thoughts and opinions. In the absence of these cues, teams must explore alternative communication strategies, such as using emojis or virtual hand-raising features, to ensure everyone’s voice is heard and understood.

Security and privacy concerns are also critical considerations when transitioning to online planning poker. Teams must ensure that the online platforms and tools used provide adequate data protection and comply with relevant regulations. Implementing strong encryption measures, user authentication protocols, and regular security audits can help mitigate the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.

Furthermore, teams must establish clear guidelines and protocols for online etiquette and behavior during planning poker sessions. Ensuring that all participants adhere to these guidelines fosters a respectful and inclusive virtual environment, where everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and contributing to the estimation process.

In conclusion, the transition to online planning poker offers teams numerous benefits, including increased flexibility, accessibility, and the ability to leverage data analytics. However, it also presents challenges such as technical issues, maintaining collaboration, and addressing security concerns. By proactively addressing these challenges and implementing appropriate measures, teams can successfully adapt to online planning poker and reap its rewards.

Tools for Online Planning Poker

A variety of tools and platforms are available for teams to conduct online planning poker sessions. These tools offer different features and functionalities to cater to various team requirements.

Overview of Planning Poker Web

Some features of software for your planning poker sessions

  • Is free
  • No authentication required
  • There is no user limit
  • There is no task limit
  • You can customize your own card deck
  • Dark mode enable
  • Categories for tasks (Feature, Bug, Issue, Chore…)
  • Mobile friendly
  • Engagement features

Comparing Features of Different Tools

When choosing an online planning poker tool, teams should consider factors such as ease of use, compatibility with existing tools, security features, cost, and support. Evaluating and comparing the features of different tools can help teams make an informed decision and select the tool that best suits their needs.

How to Conduct Online Planning Poker

Conducting online planning poker requires a slightly different approach compared to traditional in-person sessions. However, with the right tools and techniques, teams can ensure a smooth and productive estimation process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Online Planning Poker

Here is a step-by-step guide to conducting online planning poker:

  1. Select a suitable online planning poker tool based on the team’s requirements and preferences.
  2. Invite all team members to the online session and ensure that they have the necessary access and permissions to participate.
  3. Establish clear guidelines and expectations for the session, including the estimated duration, agenda, and rules of engagement.
  4. Facilitate the estimation process by presenting each task, allowing participants to individually select their estimated value, and revealing the estimates simultaneously.
  5. Encourage active participation and open discussions among team members to align their estimates and converge on a consensus value.
  6. Record the final estimate for each task and document any pertinent discussion points or assumptions.
  7. Generate reports or visualizations to track the progress and provide insights for future planning and decision-making.

Tips for Effective Online Planning Poker

To ensure effective online planning poker sessions, teams can follow these tips:

  • Establish clear communication norms: Define guidelines for communication, such as using video conferencing for discussions or using chat features for individual estimations.
  • Encourage active participation: Create a supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions and insights. Facilitate discussions and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.
  • Use collaborative tools: Take advantage of features like virtual whiteboards or screen sharing to foster collaboration. These tools can help recreate the experience of working together in a physical setting.
  • Provide training and support: Ensure that team members are familiar with the online planning poker tool and offer training if necessary. Address any technical concerns or difficulties that team members may encounter.

Case Studies of Online Planning Poker

Several organizations have successfully implemented online planning poker, and their experiences provide valuable insights and lessons learned.

Success Stories of Online Planning Poker

Company X, a globally distributed software development team, successfully transitioned to online planning poker. By leveraging online collaboration tools, they were able to involve team members from multiple time zones and achieve more accurate estimates. The streamlined process and improved accessibility resulted in increased productivity and better decision-making.

Lessons Learned from Online Planning Poker Failures

Company Y attempted to implement online planning poker without adequate preparation and training. The team struggled with technical difficulties and communication issues, leading to suboptimal estimation outcomes. This experience highlighted the importance of proper planning, training, and ensuring the availability of reliable tools and infrastructure.


As Agile development continues to gain popularity, tools such as planning poker have evolved to meet the needs of remote and globally distributed teams. Online planning poker offers numerous benefits, including improved collaboration, accuracy, and transparency. While the transition to online sessions presents unique challenges, selecting the right tools and following effective practices can help teams overcome these hurdles and conduct successful estimation sessions. By embracing online planning poker, teams can enhance their Agile practices and deliver projects more efficiently and effectively.

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