Raph’s Blog

3, 2, 1 - REVEAL POINTS. The true value of poker sizing

Many of us are in teams with a good habit of sizing work items and in many cases this is a good habit. However, do we truly understand the importance of this behaviour? Why do we do it? Is it even necessary and where is the real value of all this?

A Royal Flush, the highest possible hand in poker: Source Wikimedia Commons

Planning poker sizing using Fibonacci numbers is very common. The team calculate velocity and use this velocity to forecast their work for their next work iteration. Some environments have different pressures than others so a forecast doesn’t need to be that accurate.

There are many environments where calculating a forecast isn’t important, or set iterations (sprints) aren’t used (those teams using Kanban or pull methods of delivery). In these environments: Is it worth sizing at all? Many teams also find sizing time consuming. A few hours a week of sizing, means a few hours a week taken away from delivery.

Several years ago the ‘no sizes’ movement was picking up traction because of this assumption. I differ, I think sizing is important not only for forecasting, but to establish a shared understanding of work to be delivered. Differing sizes between team members, suggests inconsistent understanding in the work-item to be delivered. As such, a healthy sizing session would bring this lack of understanding to the surface so that all team members are fully synced up with the assumptions and constraints that the work-item is written with.

Stick with sizing even if you’re not using it to forecast. It creates a shared understanding of requirements and this in turn will save time in delivery. Eventually if you find that Fibonacci points isn’t working for you (maybe because of its high level of granularity), it could be time to use an alternative method of sizing such as bucket or T-Shirt sizing.