Planning Poker app – watch this space!

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At Red River Software we’re into SCRUM. As part of this framework, we like to use a simple form of Planning Poker. I won’t be discussing the benefits of this approach here, but essentially we (the devs) try to quantify how complex a new application feature will be to implement.

We had a bunch of poker cards printed up to use during planning meetings, and it proved quite effective and popular. However, it was only a matter of time before we all did what geeks do; we pushed the cards aside in favour of an app on our phone. Not really a problem, but when we have a customer sitting in on planning meetings, it’s nice to shove your branded poker cards in their face.

In addition to blatant product placement, we had another issue… what if you can’t get everyone round the table?

To give you some background; Red River has been working on a project for a number of years, and more recently there have been some changes within the development team. Specifically the development team has doubled, and now operates from different countries. This makes it difficult to do our planning poker as we can’t see each other. Simple solution you say? Use web cams or a chat room? Well if you’ve ever been in a video conference with more than 3 people, you’ll know it can be painful. We barely get 8-10 people on a GoToMeeting using voice properly. I digress.

To quote one of the many SCRUM commandments:-

“As a SCRUM master, I want my team to be able offer estimates simultaneously, in order to fairly determine the story point value for a story.”

So we needed a simple solution for playing our planning poker games within a distributed team. As a bonus, we also wanted it to be mobile friendly so we didn’t all need laptops during the planning meeting. We’ve all got smartphones right?

So some key application features:

1. Accessible
2. No-installers
3. Simple to use
4. Spectator mode
5. Chat

I could have made that list even simpler, but I wanted to try some new things out. The technologies of choice are NodeJS and plain old HTML.

I invite you to watch this space as we develop it further.

While you wait, you can use this excellently simple app for your planning sessions…
Scrum Poker cards for Android and iPhone.

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