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How Agile Poker can support business teams with their projects' estimations

Angelika Troka
Angelika Troka
Oct 26th, 2021

How Agile Poker can support business teams with their projects' estimations

Estimating issues or tasks your team should work on in the upcoming weeks is not easy. We can surely state it's even more complicated than doing the actual job. It's a matter of guessing how much time the work will take and making decisions that affect the entire team and the business itself (psst, no pressure).

If the team doesn't deliver tasks on time, it's not the case of the employees' poor work or laziness. It's rather a simple mistake made during the estimation process, perhaps lack of estimation experience, overestimating one's abilities, or the fault of unexpected problems or priorities changes. However, in the end, it's only estimating, guesstimating, and supposing, not making a blood oath.

In the following article, we will focus on the estimation methods that various business teams can use in their everyday work and also present the capabilities offered by our app, Agile Poker.

Hey! Some news first!

Our developers have worked on a few improvements within the app so that all our customers can take advantage of them at no extra charge.

Thanks to the new update in the cloud version, you can estimate all Jira Service Management tickets and issues from Business projects (Jira Work Management projects) with the help of our app. Simply start estimating the issues from the project settings panel by navigating to the Agile Poker icon on the left sidebar menu. You can select any numeric or time field for estimation.

Also, if you decide to edit your personal estimate during the discussion, you can now change your votes during Interactive or Asynchronous sessions — a great feature for the undecided.

The powerful tool to help you estimate your work

Agile Poker application is more than just a tool helping you plan out your work. It offers several methods to accurately, conveniently, and collaboratively estimate the backlog issues with your team. To do it faster and more efficiently, we suggest downloading the app from the Atlassian marketplace.

Once you install the app in your Jira instance, you can hop on a team planning session and brainstorm backlog Jira issues. With the help of Agile Poker, you can decide which of the four available options is most suitable for you. Don’t hesitate to give them all a try before choosing the one that works best for you, and remember, you can estimate literally everything with it.

Below, you’ll find short descriptions of each of the available estimation modes.

If your team members work in the same time zone, you can choose the Interactive mode to assign story points to specific issues together. Both teams, remote or co-located, may find this estimation method helpful. Each participant of such a session estimates the issues individually by guessing how much time and effort they should put into specific issues. After the estimation session is over, the whole team can discuss the results and collaboratively decide which issues they start working on first.

Consider using the Asynchronous session to reach consensus at your teammates' own pace if your team works mostly remotely and across different times zones. You can designate a specific day for task estimation so your colleagues can give their votes at any time. Summarize the results the next day and let them know who is working on what after the estimation is complete. It is an excellent solution for people whose calendars are always packed with meetings.

When you feel like time is money and prefer to estimate a large batch of issues at once, choose the Relative estimation mode or Bucket Sizing.

With the Relative estimation method, you can sort issues into columns that are based on their relative size only. The team can discuss many issues at once and set estimations or discuss only a few issues in detail. This method will work great for teams who already have moderate experience in estimation methodology.

The Bucket Sizing option allows teams to sort issues into already pre-defined columns based on the estimation values. It is very similar to the Relative estimation method; however, the process focuses more on the estimated values that are already set. This solution works great for teams with proven estimation patterns.

What types of popular estimation methods can we distinguish?

Before we begin, let's point out one thing. IT teams are no longer the only ones who practice estimation in their workflow. Of course, it helps them get their work done in a timely manner, but don't other teams within an organization also have tasks to complete?

More and more business teams, such as HR, marketing, or accountancy departments, plan out their work with the help of estimation for the upcoming business days. It supports everyone in guessing how much work needs to be completed and what goal exactly should be reached. Most importantly, it is also an excellent moment for team collaboration to discuss the tasks they should mainly focus on.

Below, you'll find a few estimation methods teams can use to plan out their work.

Planning poker

The planning poker estimation method is a technique that uses story points and helps to estimate the difficulty of a task. It is based on the Fibonacci sequence where story points represent a level of complexity for the project.

Fibonacci can be divided into two estimation methods: a standard or modified sequence. The standard Fibonacci sequence is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on — each number is the sum of the preceding numbers. However, some teams modify the Fibonacci sequence to 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, and 100.

When estimating the backlog issues using the Fibonacci method, it is simpler for teams to decide which task is easy to do, thus giving it only a 1 value, or which one is the most difficult, giving it, for example, 100 value. The method used — standard or modified one — is agreed upon by the entire team.

Time estimate

Time estimates are the easiest estimation method as everyone understands them and has been dealing with them from a very young age. A specific time estimate came into our lives when we were still children and wrote our first exams. We were given a few minutes or hours to complete some exercises and, hopefully, get a good grade.

It's no different now when working on tasks as adults. We propose some time to resolve an issue, deliver a task, or propose a solution, but if we didn't finish it yet, we just keep working. At school, getting additional minutes was not an option.

T-shirt sizes

Identifying the issues' size can be done with the help of the... t-shirts. The measurement is straightforward and can relate to a real-life example. Minor issues will get an estimate of 0.5 which stands for XXS, just as the smallest t-shirt you can get. The biggest estimate could be 13, which stands for XXL.

If the team does not want to estimate issues using time or it is too difficult for them to get used to the Fibonacci sequence, they might take the t-shirt sizes into consideration.

Threats when using the standard estimations methods

A perfect estimation method simply does not exist. There will always be tasks that you and your team might underestimate because of a lack of experience working in such a way or unexpected circumstances. The purpose, vision, or scope of a project can change as quickly as it appears.

What should you do in that case? Draw the conclusion and adapt to the situation if misestimation happens! Learn from the mistakes and try to estimate issues more accurately next time by assigning more story points or giving your coworkers more time to complete them. But what you should never do is do nothing or scold your teammates for a failed estimation.

In which popular work management ceremonies can you also use estimation?

Below we present short descriptions of the most popular work management ceremonies during which your business team can consider choosing estimation as a method of keeping track of your work, prioritization, and delivery. The examples shown below can be found within your Jira Software when creating a new project. However, we would like you to keep in mind that you can also perform the proposed ceremonies with the help of Agile Poker.

Marketing teams

Marketing teams have plenty of projects to juggle, whether it is a simple blog post or email campaign, as presented in the screenshot above. Agile Poker and Jira integration can help you run multiple projects simultaneously, plan out the product launches or community events (either online or offline), and manage the content strategy, just to name a few.

  • Project management

With Agile Poker, you can start and execute your simple or complex projects by coordinating deadlines, teams, or stakeholders. Keep all the work done stored in one place for you to easily manage, track, and update it. The four available estimation methods allow you to prioritize, distribute, or assign tasks to their owners. It might help keep a record of issues' status and start the collaboration with your entire team.

  • Email campaign

Track the status of all your tasks and assets in one place to make sure everyone is aligned with the deadlines. Record all updates and even the smallest details to let your team know what still needs to be done and what is ready. Use the Agile Poker app to estimate how much time is required to prepare a campaign and adjust the workflow towards its smooth launch. Control the due dates with a timeline or calendar views to prevent any scheduling conflicts.

HR teams

To make the talent hunt easier or start the new employee onboarding, the HR teams can take advantage of pre-defined templates dedicated to their specific work and a little bit of help from the Agile Poker application.

  • Recruitment process

Find potential new hires using the Agile Poker app that can let you understand how many candidates are applying for a particular role and how far they got in the recruitment process. Make mindful final decisions with the managers to invite the best candidates to join the team's ranks.

  • Performance review

Track the performance of your employees with Agile Poker by organizing ongoing conversations and meet-ups to discuss their little successes, refine minor setbacks, and measure job performance. Organize the reviews with the help of a timeline and get ready for the upcoming performance cycle. Gather all necessary information about the employees' overall performance, estimate what strengths and weaknesses the employee should work on, and run open and sincere feedback sessions.

Finance teams

For teams managing an organization's budgeting and finance processes, you can use Agile Poker to simplify and streamline financial tasks.

  • Month-end close process

Get through another month while collaborating with the whole accountancy team and tracking the task completion by all team members with the Agile Poker app. Keep a record of the documents and ensure no financial transaction for the ending month is left behind. Use the calendar view to know what issues still need to be paid and who is responsible for the bank transfer. Plan the work ahead and see how everything is completed in the appointed time frame.

  • Budget creation

Don't forget about the importance of a budget when planning the new campaign or product launch. Use Agile Poker to track the progress of all tasks from start to finish by estimating how much finances each of the project's stages will cost, assigning them to the right people, and setting deadlines. Stay in charge when priorities change to keep the work smooth.

Sales teams

Track how the leads become your trusted customers with the help of Agile Poker. Watch your sales grow and how you can nurture your relationships.

  • Lead tracking

Turn your leads into customers by using Agile Poker to track sales deals starting from an opportunity through to the conversion. Check which prospective sales are being negotiated and which have been won or lost.

  • Sales pipeline

Take advantage of Agile Poker to check out your sales cycle, negotiations, and closure in the form of a list, board, timeline, or calendar. Estimate revenue, track your deals, and nurture the relationships from a lead to a customer.

How can I benefit from using Agile Poker for estimation?

Just to name a few:

  • You have plenty of methods to choose from.

Agile Poker offers four estimation methods: Interactive, Asynchronous, Relative, and Bucket Sizing. If the option you choose is not working for you and your team, choose a different one until you find a model that fits your needs and, most importantly, helps you be productive.

  • You can collaborate with your whole team.

If you care about your teammates' opinions, the estimation session might give you a helping hand. Set up a meeting with your team and collaboratively estimate the tasks. Discuss your mates' estimating decisions, ask questions, and help them achieve the objectives.

  • Your team can estimate at their own pace.

When meeting up with your entire team is not an option due to different time zones, try asynchronous mode to engage everyone, but in their own time. No one should feel left out!

  • You can estimate one or several values at once.

By using the weighted sum formula, you can estimate one or several fields at once. Alternatively, you can also use the prioritization frameworks such as Ability and Impact, ICE, RICE, WSFJ. The final score of the estimates will be available at the end of the estimation session.

  • Make your estimation sessions private.

You can manage the list of participants for specific estimates by making the estimation process private and giving access to it to only chosen people.

  • The estimation process is challenging but also teaching at the same time.

Don't worry that you may underestimate some of the issues. It is a difficult thing, and no one can do it perfectly! But what you can do is learn from such mistakes and improve your processes for the future.

  • Business teams can estimate literally anything.

Whatever team you're a part of, rest assured you can use Agile Poker to estimate and keep track of any project, task, or assignment. Use the app to manage your campaign, onboard a new employee or hire new talent, get your budget and finances right, or track sales and revenue at every step of the way.

Summing up

Estimating issues or tasks that a business team works on daily is not an easy thing to do. It is often a trial and error method, but this method becomes easier and more accessible with every project. Applications dedicated to estimation allow you to estimate literally everything, as you can find out in the examples above.

Agile Poker application lets you collaborate with your entire team to estimate projects you're currently working on. With its help, you can make more conscious financial decisions, hire great talents, or manage your marketing campaigns. The possibilities are countless, and each business team can find an estimation method that works best for them.