By Michel Golffed

Have you ever worked in teams, where several and simultaneous projects take place and stories need to be estimated quickly and accurately so as to commit to a delivery date?
If you ever encountered this challenge, you would probably find this article very useful.

A different scenario from Sprint Planning

Traditional Scrum Sprint planning definitely works for some of our clients. But, in this particular scenario we are talking about a team working on several projects for a single client. Therefore, we are constantly receiving tickets which need to be estimated. Since it does not make sense to gather the whole team too often in order to estimate, we came up with this idea of an asynchronous planning. We are positive you would find it extremely helpful.

How it works?

Diagram

  • Once a new task arrives, the team members working for that particular project know they must post their personal estimates on a special board (asynchronously and not anonymously). This board would then contain several post-its with the right estimations facing the wall, so they are not visible for the rest of the team.
  • After a minimum of estimates have been cast, one team member turns around the pieces of paper and gets an average.
  • In cases where the estimates presented are too different (which is rare), and then the average could be just not that useful, the team members gather to discuss the estimates more in details and reach an agreement.

Every two weeks the estimations are analyzed and compared with the actual execution time. Along with this, a retrospective meeting takes place to improve the overall functioning of the team.

Pros

  • Super fast.
  • Average improves accuracy.
  • Visibility (every team member sees all estimates).
  • Time saving.
  • Team player philosophy.
  • Improves performance.

Cons

  • Fewer group discussions.
  • Only works with highly organized teams.

Taking it to the next level

We started this process using only a whiteboard, a few markers and some post-its. As we are geeks, and love creating software to solve pretty much everything, we decided to take this to the next level and create a specific tool for it. We called it “Zenkai” – playing with the letters of “Kaizen”.

Zenkai

It works by simply automating the above described process.

Pending Estimates
Dashboard with pending estimates.
Dashboard
Dashboard.
Report
Tickets per project report.
reports_2
Hours and Team Velocity over Time.

Zenkai on GitHub – Fork it and tweak it, or submit your Pull Request!

We’ve been following this process (and using this tool) for almost a year now and are constantly trying to improve it. Naturally, this facilitates the estimation process. Beyond that, it truly helps our teams to stay aligned, deliver in time, and keep track of their improvement.

If you want to implement this with your team, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss further!