We are not able to gather into a company lounge as usual due to the virus thing, so it's impossible to get all team members to join the planning poker session. Some work in a remote locationr and the others are in the office.

I cannot expect them to accept my session invitation, and I want to assign a story point as soon as possible as a product owner wants newly added tasks to be included in a current session.

I am just worried about whether a story point made by a few developers is valuable or not because it's not a consensus from all developers.

Is the story point meaningless or not?


So, if I understand your question correctly, you are asking if story points are still meaningful if only a few developers (not all) estimate those story points for the work that you need to do in the sprint?

Planning poker is a consensus based technique for estimating. The idea is that when all the people doing the work discuss and estimate a task, the estimation you get is better than if only one developer (or fewer) did the estimate. More heads are better than one basically, because a developer can overlook something that another developer can catch and raise attention to. So, when a few developers estimate, that estimate can be less valuable than the estimate given by all the developers.

I say "can", not necessarily that it "will". It really depends on how much experience each team member has, how much practice they have with estimating as a team, who are the actual developers missing from the meeting, how many times the people disagreed on things before, the difficuly of the task, if the task is something new or something similar to what was done before, etc.

But I think you are trying to solve the problem in the wrong way. The problem here is not the meaning of the story points, but the fact that not all developers are at the planning meeting. That is what you need to fix. I understand that some people are not in the office because of the COVID situation, but they can join remotely. If they can work remotely, it makes sense they can also join a meeting remotely. Find out why they aren't joining the planning and try to fix it.

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    +1 The situation's not much different than if a developer was sick or on vacation during the planning and unable to give their estimate because of that. What is different is that you (OP) have some control over whether developers participate or not. If you do it remotely, everyone can participate. – Llewellyn Sep 5 '20 at 13:22

I'm not convinced that this an an "all or nothing" story point, if some/most of the team aren't present.

You could get the story point estimate from whoever joins the meeting, and then send it around to the entire team for their feedback. (Add a deadline so that you don't have to wait too long for the response.)

This way you can get (at least) passive buy-in from the entire team, and be more confident that the story point is valid.

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