Planning Poker and Single Estimation Points

Story Points Single Point

Planning Poker Estimates

Have you ever been in the situation where your planning or backlog refinement meeting gets heated, the development team are giving their estimates based on how complex they think the task is, product are complaining because the estimates are too high and they think they know better?

Then maybe you try and split the task up into different parts, investigation, development and testing. I have seen some teams then try to assign a different scale to these, and have ‘investigation points’, ‘development points’, ‘testing points’, and then add these to a backlog.

This is a mistake.


Story Points

A story point should represent the effort of the whole task, including design, investigation, development, testing and deployment. A task should be discussed as a team and the team as a whole needs to come up with the story point. This is why we do planning poker as a team, to keep voting and discussing until a consensus is met.

It would be impossible to combine these points together when planning, for example 5 points development and 3 points testing, you might plan for 8 points to complete this task, but this will not be accurate.  I think there are other effects to doing this, as a manager might be tempted to start to measure these points independently, and monitor development velocity vs testing velocity.


Teams might be tempted to split estimate points into skills, but you should not do this. A story point should represent the task as a whole, and encompass all the effort to get the task done. If you are having successful daily stand up then any issues should come out here. Each single tasks should be represented by a single estimate in your backlog, and this will enable you to deliver that task fully at the end of your sprint.


Ashley-Christian Hardy
Process hacker, optimizer and team motivator. Blogging my ideas, initiatives and innovations. Certified Scrum Master/ Product Owner & Agile Project Manager

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