3 minute read

Remote story point estimation made simple with Span Workspace

Tricia Whenham
Posted by Tricia Whenham on Mar 18, 2020 6:00:00 AM
Find me on:

Producing story estimates you can count on is tough. There’s no such thing as perfection, of course. But if you really miss the mark, it can seriously throw off the rest of your sprint. Getting every team member’s ideas on the table – through Planning Poker® and other estimation techniques – is one way to strive for better accuracy. But this gets more complicated when you have a distributed team or when multiple team members need to work from home.

That’s where Span™ Workspace can help. It gives teams digital tools to pool their knowledge quickly and effectively – even if they’re not in the same room. And it’s fully flexible to adapt to what your team needs.

In this video, Jeff demonstrates how in-room and remote team members can estimate stories using a digital canvas. You’ll see how QuickShare lets each team member share story point estimates easily and anonymously. And he’ll show several examples of how Span Workspace can be used for pretty much any estimation approach.


Video transcription

When your distributed agile team estimates user stories, are you feeling more stress than success?

Story estimation only works when you have an entire team pooling their knowledge. When people aren’t in the same room, it can slow you down or leave important voices on the sidelines.

Enter Span Workspace. It offers digital canvases your whole team can interact with anonymously – no matter where they are. And it’s flexible enough to work for any story estimation technique.

Getting started

Planning Poker is a common way to estimate, so let’s start there. On your shared canvas in Span Workspace, you’ll have a note for each story you’d like to estimate.

Add any other details your team needs or links to background information. Then create a group for the team estimates and turn on QuickShare. It’s the fastest way for people to add ideas from their phones – no need to log in.

And that’s all the prep you need. Gather team members in a room – you can open up the canvas on a shared display. It’s easy for remote people to access Span Workspace from where they’re working. Everyone can see the canvas at the same time.

Estimating with QuickShare

Ready to start estimating? Details on the canvas help the product owner walk the team through the user story, acceptance criteria and anything else they need to know.

Next the dev team discusses what they’ve heard. They can ask for clarification or share past experiences – all the time using the canvas as a reference.

Once questions have been answered and issues resolved, it’s time to estimate. Using QuickShare on their phones, team members come up with their story point numbers. There’s no extra effort for the remote person – it’s truly a level playing field.

When all team members are ready, everyone can press send. All the story points appear instantly on the canvas in the QuickShare group. The contributions are totally anonymous, so there’s no bandwagon effect or groupthink.

If there are outliers, get the people with the lowest and highest number to explain their rationale. Then vote again – using the same simple tools – until the team is united.

Do the same thing for the next story, and the one after that. When the meeting’s done, you’ll have a canvas full of estimates that stem directly from the expertise of your whole team.

Flexible options

And if your team doesn’t use Planning Poker? Span Workspace is flexible enough to work for any estimation technique.

Let’s say your team’s go-to approach is affinity grouping. You can create a scale on your canvas, from low to high story effort.

After discussing each story, any developer can drag the note onto the scale. Stories get quickly slotted into the right spots, and it’s easy to visualize the workload ahead. Now you’re ready for sprint planning to begin.

No matter your approach, Span Workspace lets you create estimates you can count on. And you’ll have the tools you need to involve everyone – whether they’re in the room or around the world.

Interested in what else Span Workspace can do for your agile team? It’s flexible enough to work for any scrum ceremony or collaborative activity. For a couple more examples, watch how it can be used for sprint planning, and sprint retrospectives.

Topics: Agile Remote Work Span Workspace Scrum Estimation