Parabol is an agile meeting tool that helps remote teams run guided retrospective, check-in and Sprint Poker meetings. Parabol’s structured format and built-in templates make it easy for facilitators to run a great agile meeting – no matter if you’re a pro or just starting out. It’s free to use for up to two teams.
Author: Gareth Davies, Parabol, https://www.parabol.co/
Agile estimation can be a pretty complex process at the best of times. But it becomes a lot more complicated when you’re a remote team. We know, because we spoke to agile teams all around the world about their remote estimation process.
We heard our fair share of horror stories: Scrum masters copy/pasting stories from Jira to their planning poker tool. Team members juggling three or more windows. Facilitators frantically counting fingers on a video call, while struggling to keep discussions on point and efficient.
We set out to fix that with Sprint Poker – a free Planning-Poker-style tool for agile teams.
Here are 6 reasons we think you owe it to yourself to try Sprint Poker:
1. Fun and engaging meetings
Nobody likes boring meetings. You don’t. Your team-mates definitely don’t.
When meetings are boring, chances are you’re not getting a whole lot out of them.
We designed Sprint Poker to keep everyone engaged and contributing. Here are a few of the ingredients we’ve included:
- 🃏 Interactive card deck: It wouldn’t be Planning Poker without a deck of cards, would it? Play around with a fun deck of cards to select your estimate. Every deck also comes with a question and pass card. Once you’re done selecting a card, your deck will neatly stack on the side of the screen.
- ☕ Icebreakers to get teams talking: Did you know that if you speak once in a meeting you’re way more likely to speak again? Sprint Poker features built-in icebreaker questions to give everyone a chance to talk at the start of the meeting. For teams with members in different offices or locations, it also helps teams to connect on a personal level. Here are a few of our favourite questions.
- 👍 React with emoji: Sometimes when two people are locked in debate it can be hard to get a word in. We tried to resolve that challenge by bringing the commenting and emoji reactions you’re used to in chat tools directly into your meeting. Think someone has had a great idea? Add a 🔥 or a 🙌. Agree with something? Add a ➕. Not sure about something? Add a 🤔 or 🧐. Do you really, really, like unicorns? Oh, go on then, add a 🦄. Emojis help your team sprinkle a little bit of extra joy into meetings. Use them liberally!
2. Integrates with Jira to make estimating easy
Everyone wants to use the right tool for its specific purpose, and move smoothly between tools. It’s just the worst when information is siloed in different tools. Wouldn’t it be better if all the information was just… connected?
Parabol’s Sprint Poker meetings let you pull in stories and their descriptions directly from Jira, estimate them within our tool, and sync the estimates back home – automagically. Oh, and it all happens without you needing to switch windows, keeping all your work connected.
That means no more copying and pasting between tools or wrestling with your estimation tool and backlog during your call.
Integrating with Jira takes just a couple of clicks to set up and keeps all your estimates neat and organized where they belong (that’s in Jira by the way).
3. Built-in and Custom Estimation Templates
One of the hardest things for facilitators running agile meetings is finding inspiration for new meeting approaches. Teams don’t want to do the same retrospective exercise week after week. And estimation benefits from being customized to the specific practices your team have.
After getting positive feedback about our retrospective templates, we decided to add meeting templates for Sprint Poker too. So next time you run a meeting you can just select a template and run with it. No more scrambling to get a whiteboard set up ahead of time.
Sprint Poker comes with two built-in estimation methods and three estimation scales.
- Estimated Effort – Focus on how much effort stories take
- Weighted Shortest Job First – Estimate and prioritize at the same time
- Fibonacci Scale – A classic sequence for all purpose
- T-Shirt Sizes – Make sure your stories are dressed properly
- Five Fingers – A simple scale you’ve always got on hand
Can’t find something that tickles your fancy? Well then, build your own scale in Parabol and share it with your team, organization or the world!
Put anything you want on your scale. How about a scale that runs from Chihuahuas up to Great Danes?
Or try a fruit scale, like us. Because sometimes a story is just… mango sized. There’s no two ways about it.
4. Async-friendly for remote and hybrid teams
It’s not always possible to meet in person. Team members may be located in different offices, in different countries, all over the world.
When the team is spread across the world, time zones are a very real constraint. Nobody wants to wake up at 5:00 or stay up until 22:00 for your estimation meeting. Your sleep is worth more than that.
Even when the team is in the same city, team members may be in different locations – maybe stuck at home due to a… pandemic, maybe working from a coffee shop for the afternoon, or maybe juggling work around personal responsibilities.
The point is: finding synchronous time is difficult.
Sprint Poker comes with features that help you run meetings asynchronously, so your team can all contribute without being sleep-deprived, wherever they are in the world.
- 🎯 Scope stories in advance – Choose the stories you want to estimate in advance, so your team can contribute their estimates over a series of days or a whole 24 hour period, for example.
- 🗳 Vote in secret – It wouldn’t be much good if you estimated first and everyone else on the team could see your vote! In Sprint Poker, all votes remain secret until they are revealed all-at-once, supporting your async workflow.
- 🧵 Threaded discussions – Dig into the details by leaving a comment in a story’s discussion thread. Raise questions to get clarity or add emoji to +1 a colleague’s proposal.
5. Meeting summaries keeps the team updated
Ever tried facilitating a meeting and taking notes on it? I have. Trust me, it’s not fun. Wouldn’t it be better if everyone was focused on the meeting and the notes could take care of themselves?
Why yes, it would.
Automatic summaries keep your whole team updated. Couldn’t make the meeting? No problem. You’ll get a summary delivered right to your inbox. So that means the intern no longer has to take notes (woohoo) and neither do you!
Sprint Poker lets you focus on what’s important. Leave the heavy lifting to us.
6. Built for your Agile Workflow
We don’t know what your workflow is. But if you’re an agile team, you’re probably running standups (or check-ins), retrospectives, and backlog refinement meetings.
Parabol helps agile teams run better meetings every single time. It connects your sprint from start to finish, covering each of the main ceremonies. Sprint Poker is just one of the meeting types on offer.
Sign up for Sprint Poker and benefit from our Retrospectives and Check-in meeting functions for free as well. We’ve designed Parabol to make it easier for anyone to run better structured agile meetings.
Life’s too short for bad meetings.
Start running more fun and engaging agile meetings today.
Bonus reason: Parabol is free for up to two teams with an unlimited number of users. Fancy giving it a whirl? Get started now.
Want to see how it works in practice first? Check out our complete guide to running a Sprint Poker meeting.
This is a white paper written by Parabol. Contact ScrumExpert.com if you want to contribute quality Scrum and Agile software development content on this website.