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How To Run A Scrum Estimation Meeting

A Scrum estimation meeting should be properly organized with a clear agenda, where team members collaboratively discuss, assess, and estimate the time, effort, and complexity of each task or user story using a predefined measurement scale like Story Points or T-shirt sizing.

A Scrum Estimation Meeting, also known as a Scrum Poker or Planning Poker session, is a meeting in Agile or Scrum methodologies where team members come together to estimate the effort required for a particular set of tasks or user stories. In this session, each team member uses cards, often numbered, to anonymously provide their estimates. Once all estimates are in, they are revealed simultaneously to promote discussion and prevent influence from others’ estimates. The objective is to reach a consensus on the effort required, which assists in effective sprint planning and task prioritization.

What is the purpose of a Scrum Estimation Meeting?

The purpose of running a scrum estimation meeting as a leader is to facilitate the team’s effort in estimating the complexity and effort required for each task. By providing guidance and setting the agenda, the leader ensures that the team collectively understands the scope of work, optimizes time management, and establishes a clear understanding of project deliverables.

How To Run A Scrum Estimation Meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Preparation

In this phase of preparation, the product owner or scrum master takes charge of getting everything ready for the meeting. Tasks involve consolidating user stories or tasks that require estimation, identifying and inviting the relevant team members to attend, and assuring that all required tools or platforms for effective communication are setup and fully operational. They strive to foster an environment conducive to productive and proactive discussion, ensuring everyone’s readiness and knowledge about the meeting’s agenda.

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Step 2: Meeting overview

The scrum master or product owner initiates the meeting by defining its purpose and procedures. They detail the Scrum estimation techniques such as planning poker, T-shirt sizes, or story point estimation, identifying items up for estimation, and elucidating on how these estimations contribute to achieving project goals.

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Step 3: Discussion of Items

In every estimation meeting, each user’s story or task is scrutinized meticulously. From detailing requirements and projected outcomes to identifying potential challenges and other pertinent information, everything is covered. Often, this review is supported by specific acceptance criteria or a ‘Definition of Done’ – a predefined checklist to illustrate a task’s successful completion.


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Step 4: Questions & Answers

Once all necessary details are thoroughly disclosed, team members are encouraged to seek clarification or ask questions. This open dialogue aids in comprehending expectations, ensuring that assigned tasks are conducted effectively, and enables accurate work estimations, promoting an environment of comprehensive mutual understanding.

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Step 5: Estimation

In the estimation process, each team member individually provides their projections. Frequently, they use story points or ideal days based on the chosen methodology. These estimated figures showcase the amount of work, complexity, and uncertainty involved in completing a task or project.

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Step 6: Share & Discuss Estimates

Each team member is encouraged to share their individual project estimates with the group. If substantial discrepancies emerge in these estimations, further in-depth dialogue is initiated. The purpose of this additional discussion is to gain an understanding of the varying points of view and find a middle ground. This cooperative process ultimately aims to reach a consensus, thereby ensuring everyone is on the same page while promoting collective decision-making within the team.

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Step 7: Finalize Estimates

Once all team members have reached a consensus, final project estimates are agreed upon, primarily based on the complexity, effort, and duration required for the task completion. Then, these determinations are meticulously noted by the product owner or scrum master as a significant reference for future task requirements, planning, and resource allocation, ensuring the team is always prepared and well-informed.

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Step 8: Plan Next Steps

As per the finalized estimates, the subsequent progression steps are defined. This generally involves deliberating over the priority of tasks for impending sprints, or modifications to the product backlog. It’s a critical phase that guides the team’s focus, organizes resources, identifies risks, and shapes the direction of work for the forthcoming period.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. “What tasks are needed to complete this project?”
– This question helps the leader understand the specific tasks required for project completion, ensuring a clear understanding of what needs to be estimated.

2. “Is there any complexity involved in any of the tasks?”
– By asking about complexity, the leader gains a better understanding of potential challenges, helping to estimate more accurately.

3. “What factors could potentially impact the completion time of each task?”
– This question assists in identifying any external or internal factors that might affect the timelines, ensuring a more realistic estimation.

4. “Have we encountered similar tasks before? If yes, how long did they take?”
– By learning from past experiences, the leader can incorporate historical data, making the estimation process more accurate and reliable.

5. “Are there any dependencies between tasks?”
– Understanding task dependencies is crucial for effective estimation, enabling the leader to identify how different tasks may affect one another and adjust accordingly.

6. “Are there any potential risks or uncertainties that may impact the estimate?”
– Identifying risks and uncertainties upfront helps the leader account for possible delays or obstacles, leading to a more realistic and achievable estimation.

7. “Do we have all the necessary resources and information to complete the tasks?”
– Ensuring that the team has access to the required resources and information is essential for accurate estimation.

8. “Are there any external factors, such as holidays or external dependencies, that need to be considered?”
– External factors can significantly impact project timelines, and considering them during estimation helps set realistic expectations.

9. “Based on the team’s capacity and availability, how many productive hours can we allocate to this project?”
– Understanding the available team resources is essential to estimate the project’s duration accurately.

10. “Do we have any additional insights or suggestions to improve accuracy in the estimation process?”
– Encouraging team members to share their insights or suggestions promotes collaboration and might uncover valuable techniques or information to enhance the accuracy of estimations.

To prepare a Scrum estimation meeting agenda as a leader, start by identifying the user stories or backlog items to be estimated. Prioritize them based on importance and complexity. Set a time limit for each item and allocate sufficient time for discussions and questions. Ensure that all team members know the purpose and goals of the meeting, and provide them with any necessary background information. Review any past estimates or reference points to guide the discussions. Finally, have a clear plan for capturing and documenting the estimates during the meeting.

How To Prepare For A Scrum Estimation Meeting
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During a scrum estimation meeting, it is crucial to discuss various topics to ensure effective planning and tracking of work. These may include reviewing user stories and tasks, clarifying requirements, identifying dependencies and potential risks, estimating effort, and assigning story points. Open communication and collaboration are essential to improving the accuracy of estimations and setting realistic expectations for the team.

See Our Scrum Estimation Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Scrum Estimation Meeting

Software plays a crucial role in helping leaders run efficient scrum estimation meetings. With its collaborative features, it enables team members to participate remotely, saving time and increasing productivity. Real-time tracking and visualization tools provide valuable insights into progress and team capacity, facilitating accurate estimation. Additionally, software automates the process by generating reports and facilitating communication, streamlining the overall estimation meeting process for leaders.

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Mastering the art of running a Scrum Estimation Meeting can significantly improve your team’s productivity and project management efficacy. This process is not just about obtaining figures for project planning, but it also helps to strengthen cross-team understanding and collaboration. By keeping the meetings interactive, fun, time-boxed, and focusing on conversation rather than just numbers, you make the task less tedious and more meaningful. Remember, the primary goal is to generate the most precise estimations, promote group cohesion, and improve overall project efficiency. With diligent application of these strategies, your Scrum Estimation meetings can become more effective, leading to more accurate project timeline forecasts and end results.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What is the main purpose of a Scrum Estimation Meeting?

The main purpose of a Scrum Estimation Meeting is to estimate the effort required for the tasks in the product backlog. This allows the team to plan and manage their work effectively during each sprint.

Who typically participates in a Scrum Estimation Meeting?

The Scrum Estimation Meeting typically involves the product owner, the Scrum Master, and the development team. The product owner explains the requirements and prioritizes the work, while the development team gives estimates based on their understanding and expertise.

What methodologies or techniques are commonly used in a Scrum Estimation Meeting?

Several methodologies can be used to estimate effort in a Scrum Estimation Meeting including, Planning Poker, T-Shirt Sizes, The Bucket System, or Dot Voting.

How often should a Scrum Estimation Meeting be held?

Scrum Estimation Meeting should ideally be held before each sprint. The frequency depends on the length of the sprint. For instance, if the team works on a two-week sprint, then these meetings should occur every two weeks.

Why is it important to re-estimate tasks during a Scrum Estimation Meeting?

Re-estimating tasks during a Scrum Estimation Meeting is important because it accommodates for changes that may have occurred since the last meeting, such as changes in requirements, design, or team capacity. Continuous re-estimation helps achieve improved accuracy and effective sprint execution.

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