Asynchronous issue estimating for distributed teams in Jira
Important: New version of this blog post is available here.
Agile Poker Enterprise for Jira is now offering two estimation modes: interactive and asynchronous. Both modes focus on teamwork as key element of accurate planning. Live sessions are consensus-based estimations based on Planning Poker® methodology. Asynchronous estimating mode is inspired by consultative techniques like Wideband Delphi and PERT analysis.
Estimate as a team to avoid biases
Humans are subject to multiple cognitive biases and there is a growing body of evidence that even when people are aware of a given bias, they cannot detect it, let alone mitigate it. The ‘illusion of skill’ described by Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues, or Dunning-Kruger effect, are sufficient to illustrate what we're dealing here with. If, by the end of your project, you want to feel good about your planning skills, you should be aware of consensus based, collaborative estimating techniques.
Live Planning Poker® sessions work for some teams only
Agile Poker for Jira 2.0 offered quick, live planning poker sessions run directly in Jira backlog view. You can read more about interactive sessions in this blogpost announcing the release for Jira Cloud version. Since last year, we've been receiving requests for asynchronous mode for two reasons:
- to include estimations of remote team members, often from different time zones
- to involve an expert who is not available full-time to project team
Save the golden time for stand-ups
Many agile teams are not sharing office space, not even the time zone. Some are located so far apart that shared office time, sometimes referred to as 'golden time', is just one hour. The precious slot is usually used for stand-ups and updating each other about current issues. When it comes to planning, there is not enough time for live estimating sessions. With the new release of Agile Poker Enterprise for Jira, users may now try collaborative asynchronous estimating sessions. They are suitable for those who want to estimate as a team, but do not have the comfort of working with face-to-face or even live communication.
Learn more from the process
While the interactive mode is about instant exchange of opinions and reaching agreement as quickly and efficiently as possible, the asynchronous mode is all about saving the comments and estimates for future analysis. Comments provided by an expert working in another team may be the breakthrough insight.
Asynchronous estimating in progress. The participant goes through the list, selects votes from customizable scale and saves comments.
Interactive and asynchronous sessions compared
The table below is a summary of how the synchronous and asynchronous contexts impacted Agile Poker functionality. Interactive sessions do not save results apart from the final estimate. Asynchronous sessions save the votes and comments from all estimating rounds, but may require more time spent on reviewing the votes by the person in charge of estimating.
During the asynchronous estimating session, comments left in the edit field are as important as the votes. After the session is closed, they can be reviewed by all team members, but final estimations can be saved by the team lead only.
The team lead view after asynchronous session is closed and results are ready for review.
In the screenshot above, the team lead can now decide on the final estimate based on votes and comments. In interactive mode, the differences in votes would trigger a discussion where people explain their reasons, discuss them and come to a conclusion. In asynchronous mode, participants can only explain their reasons, the lead is supposed to read them, draw conclusions and make the decision. If asynchronous votes are too distributed, the team may be asked to re-estimate the issue, after reading each other's comments.
Asynchronous sessions are currently available for the Server version of Agile Poker Enterprise for Jira. If you’re using Jira Cloud, tell us if asynchronous mode would be useful to your team. This is the best way to propel our efforts to deliver this feature to teams using Jira Cloud.
Share your comments with us or simply check out Agile Poker Enterprise for Jira to see how it works for your team.