The Planning Poker App for Agile Development

Vincent Bruzac - 23rd March 2021

Estimating the costs for developing a feature is certainly one of the more complex tasks in Project Management. It requires alignment and collaboration of technical as well as functional experts. Estimations depend on the expertise of these participants, as well as their knowledge of the client and its technical environment. Agile Scrum and DevOps methods give development teams a particularly effective tool to estimate User Stories workloads: the Planning Poker.

With ServiceNow, many of our customers are using agile User Stories to prioritize product backlogs through the Agile Development module: basically, ITBM Agile Development allows you to create, organize and plan sprints for your team, to assign User Stories to the development team and manage end-to-end lifecycles.

poker hand image

So, you can specify the duration of the sprint, define its objective and its definition of complete, link it to its release then close it once completed. You can also use the burn-down chart to graphically represent the evolution of work remaining for a given period and make corrections as needed.

However, with ServiceNow, users are missing integrated Planning Poker functionality, which means they are unable to directly manage cost assessments per story. Moreover, as scrum teams are very often distanced (including before the Covid context) during the planning poker sessions, turning over the cards as a group around the table is not possible.

Customers are therefore forced to use in parallel to ServiceNow one of the many third party tools available, allowing them to create and return cards, but without integration into their Now Platform©️.

This means management during these sessions for the Product Owner and the Scrum Master is a very manual process, based on switching from one screen to another, copy/paste when it is supposed to be a friendly and fluid moment within the team.

To resolve this, Engage ESM developed a dedicated Planning Poker application for our customers, embedded in ServiceNow Agile Development.

Concept of our Planning Poker App

The Planning Poker App virtually brings together the project team around the Scrum Master, who then facilitates the discussion taking place between the participants, in order to estimate the workload for the User Stories presented.

The main advantage of the Planning Poker App is to allow all participants to knowledge share and it enables the accurate estimation of complex workloads for new functionality (User Stories) or for fixes directly within ServiceNow. 

Have a look !

We created a short video to show the app : 

Functional and technical summary :

App’s main features

  • Fluid "seamless" integration with Agile Development application (User Stories)
  • Customizing point cards
  • Session planning and follow-up in calendar view
  • Generation of invitations
  • Timer in the session
  • Collecting votes
  • Note taking in the session
  • Generation of the session report (Word or PowerPoint template multi-language)

Planning Poker process, step-by-step

1. Session preparation

  • Creation of the theme of the session with date and time of the meeting
  • Definition of stakeholders: participants are assigned a role: non-voter organizer / voter organizer / voter / spectator.
  • Notifications are generated when the session is created or canceled and when participants are added / removed
  • Possibility to define the values of the cards (the participants will use a deck of cards specially adapted to the evaluation of the execution time and the complexity of the tasks. The cards * have the following values: 0, 0.5, 1, 2 , 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100, “∞”, “coffee” and “?”).

2. Live session 

  • The participants connect to a session.
  • The session leader (Scrum Master) presents a User Story from Agile Development to the technical team.
  • The participants ask the Product Manager questions, discuss the scope of the scenario, and agree targeted outcomes for the scenario to be considered "finished". Each of the participants then evaluates the development effort of this scenario, chooses the card that corresponds to their estimate and votes.

Deployment information

  • No software license is required (this is an update set provided by Engage ESM)
  • Deployment is done via an update set in the global scope
  • This application has 4 tables
  • Support is recommended to optimize license management (declare the tables to be associated with the ITBM suite)

Do you want to know more about this app ?

Contact us and find more !