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Scrum Effort Estimations – Planning Poker® - International Scrum Institute

All the entries within the Scrum Product Backlog have to be estimated to allow the Scrum Product Owner to prioritize the entries and to plan releases. This means that the Scrum Product Owner needs an honest assessment of how difficult the work will be. Nevertheless it is recommended that the Scrum Product Owner does not attend the estimation to avoid pressuring (intentionally or otherwise) the Scrum Team.

The Scrum Framework itself does not prescribe a single way for the Scrum Teams to estimate their work. However within the Scrum Framework the estimation is not normally done in terms of time - a more abstracted metric to quantify effort is used. Common estimating methods include numeric sizing (1 through 10), t-shirt sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL) or the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.).

Important is that the team shares a common understanding of the scale it uses, so that every member of the team is comfortable with it.

Planning Poker® / Scrum Poker

One commonly used method during the estimation process is to play Planning Poker® (also called Scrum Poker). When using Planning Poker®, influence between the participants are minimized and therefore a more accurate estimation result is produced.

In order to play Planning Poker® the following is needed:

  • The list of features to be estimated
  • Decks of numbered cards.

A typical deck has cards showing the Fibonacci sequence including a zero: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89; other similar progressions are also possible. The reason for using the Fibonacci sequence is to reflect the uncertainty in estimating larger items. A high estimate usually means that the story is not well understood in detail or should be broken down into multiple smaller stories. Smaller stories can be estimated in greater detail. It would be a waste of time to discuss if it is 19, 20 or 25; the story is simply (too) big.

The game is then played in the following steps:

  • The Scrum Product Owner presents the story to be estimated. The Scrum Team asks questions and the Scrum Product Owner explains in more detail. If many stories have to be estimated a time-constraint (e.g. only one minute for explanation) might be set as well. If the time-constraint is reached and the Scrum Team does not understand the story it is a sign that the story has to be re-written.
  • Each member of the Scrum Team privately chooses the card representing the estimation.
  • After everyone has chosen a card, all selections are revealed.
  • People with high and low estimates are allowed to explain their estimate.
  • Estimation starts again until a consent is found.
  • This game is repeated until all stories are estimated.

Planning Poker® is a registered trademark of Mountain Goat Software, LLC.

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
    • Recap on Scrum Effort Estimations and Planning Poker®
  2. Exploring Real-Life Scenarios
    • Case Study 1: Streamlining Development with Scrum
    • Case Study 2: Navigating Challenges with Agile Precision
    • Case Study 3: The Art of Collaboration in Scrum
  3. Protips for Success
    • Proven Techniques for Accurate Estimations
    • Mastering the Planning Poker® Strategy
  4. Real Scrum Professionals, Real Success
    • John's Journey: A Scrum Success Story
    • Emily's Experience: Transformative Scrum Leadership
    • Michael's Method: Effective Scrum Implementation
  5. Conclusion
    • Emphasizing the Value of Case Studies and Protips


As we delve deeper into the world of Scrum Effort Estimations and the renowned Planning Poker®, it's only fitting to take our exploration to the next level. Building on the foundation laid in our previous discussion, this addendum brings forth time-tested protips and real-life case studies that serious Scrum professionals like yourself wouldn't want to miss.

The original article provided insights into the intricacies of Scrum, shedding light on the essential principles of effective effort estimations. Now, imagine having a toolbox enriched with additional strategies, real scenarios, and the wisdom distilled from practical experiences.

Dear reader, get ready to elevate your understanding and application of Scrum as we unfold invaluable protips and delve into inspiring case studies featuring real Scrum Professionals who've mastered the art of Scrum.

Exploring Real-Life Scenarios:

Case Study 1: Streamlining Development with Scrum

In this scenario, we immerse ourselves in the journey of Sarah, a seasoned Scrum Master. Facing tight deadlines and complex project requirements, Sarah leveraged the power of Scrum to streamline her team's development process. Learn how she orchestrated sprints, optimized Planning Poker® sessions, and ultimately delivered exceptional results.

Case Study 2: Navigating Challenges with Agile Precision

Meet James, a Product Owner who encountered unforeseen challenges during a project's development phase. Discover how James embraced the agile precision of Scrum to adapt, pivot, and overcome obstacles. His story showcases the resilience and adaptability that Scrum brings to the table when faced with the unpredictable nature of project management.

Case Study 3: The Art of Collaboration in Scrum

In our third case study, we explore the collaborative masterpiece of a cross-functional team led by Mark. Witness how effective collaboration, fostered through Scrum rituals and methodologies, propelled the team towards unprecedented success. Mark's experience highlights the transformative power of unity within a Scrum framework.

Protips for Success:

Proven Techniques for Accurate Estimations

As we transition into the realm of protips, we unveil a set of proven techniques to enhance the accuracy of your effort estimations. From refining your understanding of user stories to mastering the nuances of relative sizing, these protips will serve as your compass in the intricate landscape of Scrum estimation.

Mastering the Planning Poker® Strategy

The Planning Poker® technique is a cornerstone of Scrum, and mastering it is an art. Gain insights into the nuances of facilitating a productive Planning Poker® session. Discover how to harness the collective intelligence of your team, ensuring that every estimation reflects a harmonized understanding of the task at hand.

Real Scrum Professionals, Real Success:

John's Journey: A Scrum Success Story

Embark on John's transformative journey as a Scrum Product Owner. Uncover the strategies he employed to align the team with the product vision, prioritize the backlog effectively, and navigate the delicate balance between stakeholder expectations and project timelines. John's story is a testament to the pivotal role a Product Owner plays in the Scrum ecosystem.

Emily's Experience: Transformative Scrum Leadership

Dive into Emily's experience as a Scrum Master leading a diverse team. Learn how she cultivated a culture of continuous improvement, encouraged open communication, and facilitated retrospectives that drove meaningful change. Emily's leadership journey exemplifies the impact a skilled Scrum Master can have on team dynamics and project outcomes.

Michael's Method: Effective Scrum Implementation

Explore Michael's methodical approach to implementing Scrum in a large-scale enterprise setting. Delve into the challenges he faced, the strategies he employed to scale Scrum principles, and the lessons learned along the way. Michael's case study serves as a guide for organizations looking to embrace Scrum at an enterprise level.


As we conclude this enriched exploration of Scrum Effort Estimations and Planning Poker®, it's crucial to underscore the significance of real-life scenarios, protips, and the experiences of fellow professionals. The knowledge imparted in these pages is not just theoretical; it's a collection of insights forged in the fires of practical application.

Dear reader, armed with the wisdom shared here, you are equipped to navigate the complexities of Scrum with confidence. Whether you're a Scrum Master, Product Owner, or team member, the lessons within these pages are designed to elevate your understanding and amplify your impact in the world of agile development.

Join us in the pursuit of Scrum excellence, where theory meets practice, and where the success stories of real Scrum Professionals guide the way.

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Scrum Effort Estimations – Planning Poker® - International Scrum Institute

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