Estimation made effortless
ZenHub’s planning poker, designed for teams who are too busy shipping to stop and story point the old fashioned way.Start estimating
The benefits of estimation, without the productivity loss
ZenHub’s planning poker makes estimating easy and effortless.
Reduce time spent in meetings and backlog refinement, understand how much work you can commit to in a sprint, and set your team up for success by hosting your planning poker online.
Simply request estimates in GitHub from key team members, and they can estimate on their own time. We’ll apply the story point to the Issue automatically if your team reaches a consensus. Schedule a quick-sync for the leftovers, it’s that easy.
Keep it simple – Keep it in GitHub
No need for a separate planning poker app, ZenHub’s planning poker is built right into GitHub. Estimate where you work and get back to coding.
Save time, shorten your meetings
We’ll automatically apply estimates when everyone agrees, allowing you to focus the conversation on the most debated Issues.
Everyone has a voice
Team members can vote independently on their own time from anywhere, reducing bias and increasing accuracy.
Accurate velocity for better planning
Accurate estimates help the team understand its velocity, so the team doesn’t overcommit and stretch itself too thin.
Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? Check the FAQ page.
What is planning poker? Why is it more accurate than other types of estimation?
Planning poker is one of several methods for performing story point estimation. Used in agile project management, story point estimation helps predict the effort required to complete a development task. The purpose of agile story points is to compare a task in relation to the sizes of your other tasks, helping Scrum teams determine how much work to pull into a sprint based on velocity. Velocity is the average number of story points a team has completed over the last several sprints.
Planning poker is a consensus-based estimation technique. Traditionally, planning poker is done in a meeting. The team members discuss an Issue to understand its complexity. Once the team has an understanding of the Issue, they simultaneously vote on the amount of effort required. If the team is in agreement, the estimate is applied to the Issue. If the team disagrees, they will continue to discuss until the team is in agreement on the estimation.
However unlike traditional planning poker, ZenHub’s planning poker allows team members to do planning poker online asynchronously. This means team members can provide their estimate on their own time – right in GitHub.
Many teams experience improved accuracy when using the planning poker format. It allows experts in each area of the team (developers, UX, QA, etc.) to share how complex they think the Issue is. Additionally, having to discuss Issues that the team didn’t agree on in detail can help bring to light misunderstandings with the scope and requirements of an issue, improving overall accuracy.
What format of story point estimation does ZenHub feature?
By default, ZenHub’s planning poker uses the Fibonacci Sequence – a popular scoring method in the Agile and Scrum community. In the Fibonacci Sequence, every number is a sum of the prior 2 numbers. The sequence is as follows: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21. However, you can customize the story point scale in ZenHub by creating or removing story point values.
Regardless of the estimation technique used during Scrum, the fundamental idea is to ‘size’ an issue in relation to a known issue. For example, if your team developed a new feature last week that you agreed was an estimate of 5 points, you can now use this as the benchmark for deciding if future work is bigger or smaller than that previous Issue.
Why should I estimate in GitHub?
Bringing agile and Scrum ceremonies into GitHub can be quite impactful for agile teams. While estimation is crucial to any Scrum team, some may view it as a pesky interruption, or in some cases, even a productivity killer. By bringing estimation into GitHub, you can save time, improve estimation accuracy, and bolster your team’s attitude towards estimation.
Estimating directly on the Issue inside GitHub creates a centralized source of truth. Scoping, requirements, definition of done, and all the other information your team needs to review and point an Issue, and begin working on it, is in one central place.
For developers, this saves precious time and keeps them in an environment they are comfortable in. For product owners or managers, this means no longer having to manage an external planning poker app and waste time transferring over the estimates into your agile project management software. It’s all conveniently located right in GitHub with ZenHub.
How does planning poker work in ZenHub?
It’s completely up to your team how you leverage ZenHub’s planning poker.
To start, you can either do planning poker all at the same time during a backlog refinement meeting, or you can perform planning poker in GitHub separately at a time that’s most convenient for individual team members.
To kick off, the product owner will request estimates from all team members who need to estimate. Team members can then filter the ZenHub Board to show Issues requiring their estimation. Additionally, the team can see what Issues require estimation from the Board view by watching out for the timer clock icon.
After each team member provides an Estimate, Zenhub will automatically apply the estimates when there is consensus (when the entire team provided the same estimate). Estimates that did not reach consensus will stay open. The team should then come together to discuss the remaining Issues, and decide collectively on the correct estimate. We recommend outliers, those providing the highest and lowest estimates, state their case.
Not to worry, estimates can be updated retroactively if the team changes their mind or something changes.
My team doesn’t have a dedicated Scrum Master. Can we still use ZenHub’s planning poker?
The short answer is, yes! While ZenHub’s planning poker is also great for mature Scrum teams, it’s the perfect introduction for teams just beginning their Scrum journey, who do not have a Scrum facilitator, or have limited resources to spend on Scrum.
ZenHub’s planning poker is very lightweight and straightforward to use. Requesting estimation, estimating, and assignment story points is all centralized right in GitHub. We even automate away the repetitive work of having to manually apply estimates when the team is in agreement.
There is no extra set up or customization required, as long as your team is using sprints in GitHub with ZenHub. ZenHub provides a structured, effortless way to build planning poker into your team’s regular work flows in GitHub.
How will ZenHub’s planning poker save my team time?
We believe taking a short amount of time away from ‘development time’ is a necessary part of being a high-performing agile team. However, our mission is to make the process of planning poker as seamless and short as possible. ZenHub’s planning poker is designed to minimize the amount of time spent story pointing, in many cases from hours to minutes. Here’s how:
- We automatically apply estimates when the team is in agreement, so your team spends less time debating when you’re already in alignment
- Voting team members can provide estimates at a time that’s convenient for them, so their flow of work isn’t interrupted. Productivity loss from context switching is minimized
- Our planning poker feature is built right into ZenHub, so you can say goodbye to your annoying planning poker app. Estimates are directly applied to Issues
- All the details needed to provide an informed estimate are located directly where planning poker takes place in ZenHb
- Voting team members can filter the board by Issues that require estimation, so it’s quick and easy to see what Issues they need to provide story points for
- Product owners will spend less time tracking down estimates, sending reminders, and transferring points over from other platforms
- Planning poker seamlessly integrates with ZenHub Sprints, automatically building sprints from your backlog pipeline
Story point estimation hasn’t worked for my team in the past. How is ZenHub’s planning poker different?
Some common objections to story pointing range from the fact it’s inaccurate and a waste of time, to it being just for leadership and an annoying distraction. We want to change this. ZenHub’s planning poker bridges the gap between how technical folks prefer to work and the Scrum tasks Product Owners need to perform their jobs effectively and keep their team moving forward.
Having planning poker online ensures everyones’ opinion can be expressed in an unbiased way without the influence of other team members, improving the honesty and accuracy of estimations.
ZenHub’s planning poker is designed to be as minimally invasive as possible. Significantly cutting down the time developers need to spend in meetings. This feature allowed ZenHub’s internal team to turn hour-and-a-half backlog refinement meetings into quick, 10-minute syncs.
Accurate story points are essential for velocity reporting. While velocity charts are important for product owners, improving the accuracy of velocity data can improve the working experience for technical team members. It helps protect their capacity, improve mental health and reduce context switching.
Does ZenHub provide reports using story point estimation and sprint data?
In addition to several other reports like the Cumulative flow and Control chart, ZenHub provides two reports that leverage story point estimation data: Velocity Tracking and Burndown Report.
The Velocity Tracking chart is an agile tool that displays a team's historical rate of work. At a glance, you're able to see exactly how much value your team can ship each sprint. People tend to overestimate how much they can get done in a given time period, resulting in missed deadlines and frustrated teams. Using learnings from velocity charts, you can make more accurate goals.
The Burndown Report chart helps teams meet deadlines more predictably by providing an early indicator of how a project is coming along. You’ll be able to see mid-sprint if your team is at risk of not completing the Issues.
Do more in GitHub
ZenHub’s planning poker and Sprint Planning are more powerful together. Learn how accurate estimates generated by planning poker will help bolster automated sprint planning, and save you time.
Get an accurate understanding of the progress of multiple teams. Get an accurate understanding of the progress of multiple teams.