We recently published a piece describing why we think Relative Estimation is a more effective alternative to Planning Poker. In this article, Principal Consultant Joel Bancroft-Connors provides instructions on how to learn our recommended alternative, Team Estimation.

I’ve been using the Team Estimation Game since 2012. As soon as I learned it, I immediately saw its value and I have not taught Planning Poker since. In the last decade, I’ve worked with dozens of teams and taught hundreds of students this technique. With every team and class, they quickly embraced the concept and were able to take unknown items and quickly come to a consensus-driven estimate. 

One of the most impressive uses was with a team that was just forming together around a brand new product idea. In the 90 minutes I taught them the technique, they reviewed the items with their Product Owner, estimated 20 items and created their initial ordered Product Backlog. The team then went on to execute their first Sprints and those original estimates stood up to the test of time.

How Team Estimation Works

This game allows a team to quickly review 5-15 items, organize them in relative rank order, and then assign a value scale to those items. Relative estimation is completed by comparing an item to the items around it to find where it falls in the prioritized list. The Team Estimation Game is most commonly used by work groups to create effort estimates and by product groups to assign business value

Download the Learning Exercise, Playing Cards, and Miro Board

The downloads below will teach you how to play Team Estimation to quickly estimate or value work items.

Learning Team Estimation Instructions (16 pages, PDF)

Team Estimation Playing Cards (6 pages, PDF)

Team Estimation Miro Board (3MB, ZIP)

Attribution: The Team Estimation Game was originally developed by Steve Bockman.