Agile Estimation For Distributed Teams
The teams I’m working with use Planning Poker to estimate the size of user stories. This has proved to be an extremely useful activity, and we rely on it to plan upcoming work. In the past, we used special card decks for this, which worked well when everyone was based in the same room. However, with team members now distributed across two continents, this quickly became less effective.
To address this, we initially tried running the sessions over a conference call, using group chat channels to record votes on the items being discussed. However, the quality of estimates noticeably deteriorated as a result, with less confident developers waiting to see what others thought before voting, and outliers not always being discussed. With distributed IT teams becoming more prevalent, a number of online Planning Poker tools have been developed. Since none of the available offerings quite met our requirements, I set about building our own. The key features of this version are:
- Unobtrusive and extremely lightweight.
- Easy to extend and add new features as required.
- Can be hosted locally if needed.
- No signup or payment needed
- No need to know which user stories are going to be estimated at the start of the session.
The backend is implemented as a RESTful API (using the Spring Boot framework), with Web Sockets being used to communicate with the React UI. Source code and binaries are available on GitHub. Pull requests are welcome, and please consider starring this project if you find it useful!
To start using the tool immediately, head to https://planningpoker-tool.herokuapp.com/, wait for the server to start up, and create a new session.