Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Team Estimation Game - By Steve Bockman

Well, Steve didn't have time to put it up his website, so I figure I'll write up what I have learned here.

I ran into Steve during the agile 2007 conference so I invited him to do the session for us at BayXP. Last October, Steve came down and hosted a session of the Team Estimation Game. This is the first time I learned it I really liked it.

Given a set of defined stories, the purpose of this game is to come to the consensus about the relative estimation of the work to be done for each story. If you don't have a set of stories to try it out, you can use the sample produced by Steve here.

So once you have all the story cards, you first estimate their complexity relative to each other:

  1. Place Story Cards in pile on table.

  2. First player places top card on playing surface.

  3. Next player places top card on playing surface relative to first card.

  4. Next player can either:
    * Play top card from pile, or
    * Move a card on the playing surface, or
    * Pass
  5. Repeat Step 4 until
    a) no more cards remain in pile, and
    b) no player wishes to move a card

Here is an example of the result:

After the first stage is finished, you can now go on to assign points to them so that you can track your team velocity:

6) As a team, choose estimation units and values.

With the agreed units:

7) Place an estimate at the top of each column.
8) Change estimates until all team members agree.

We did it during the meeting and it went very smoothly. The interesting thing is that Steve told us the result is not too much different from the ones that he has conducted elsewhere with other groups.

I am definitely going to try it on my next story estimation session.


* Planning poker, which is another popular and useful estimation game.
* Steve's slides: http://www.shaneduan.com/estimation/Team_Estimation_Game.ppt
* Planning Poker Cards you can buy here.
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