The Silent Grouping method, also known as Bucket System Estimation, was introduced by Ken Power in 2011. It is designed to minimize unnecessary discussion users often get bogged down with when using the Planning Poker method to estimate user stories. It complements Planning Poker perfectly; now, both methods are available from Smart Guess.
When to use Silent Grouping?
When teams start a new project or feature, estimating many stories using Planning Poker takes time. It takes time because teams often end up in a detailed discussion for each story, which is perfect when development is about to start but is not needed for stories further away.
With Silent Grouping, teams naturally focus on the relative size of each story compared to others rather than diving into details for one story, leaving detailed discussions for later. This allows teams to move considerably faster, perfect for long-term planning.
When to use Planning Poker?
With Planning Poker, the discussions that take place are ideal for assessing what to implement during upcoming sprints. Because before starting work on a user story, a common understanding of what you plan on having ready when you finish the sprint is essential. For this reason, you must discuss and decide how to implement the user story and how much time to invest. There are always tradeoffs where the team and, ultimately, the product manager need to weigh the value vs. the cost of different implementation options, such as:
- Simple and quick - 2 story points
- Better, yet not perfect - 5 story points
- Fancy pansy - 20 story points
The Planning Poker method clarifies how much effort the product manager is willing to invest relative to everything the team can spend their time on. So many teams use Planning Poker during refinement meetings to clarify what to build during the upcoming sprint(s).
Balancing how deep your story discussion goes
So it’s a balancing act of how deep you go with each story discussion. Stories you will soon start working on are smaller and need more clarity and a deeper discussion. Planning Poker is the perfect tool for this case.
However, for stories further away on the backlog that will be further broken down later, focus the discussion on what you know today and note down key areas of uncertainty to clarify. Bucket Estimation is perfect for this case.
How to run your first Silent Grouping meeting with your team?
Here is an article that walks you through the step-by-step process of how to run your first Silent Grouping meeting with your team.