Skip to main content

A backlog brimming with features, bug fixes, and enhancements, and the daunting task of deciding what to tackle next… As a scrum master and product manager, this scenario probably feels all too familiar. What if there was a way to turn your prioritization process into a collaborative game that involves your whole team? 

Priority poker, a variation of planning poker, is an agile framework that allows product development teams to prioritize backlog items, functionalities, and initiatives collaboratively. In this game-like prioritization process, your team will use a deck of cards to vote on the importance of each feature. This ensures everyone is included in the decision-making, and helps align your agile team so you know which task to tackle next.

What Is Priority Poker?

While there are many feature prioritization frameworks you can use in the agile world, priority poker uses playing cards to rank the importance of various tasks or features. A step beyond planning poker sessions, it’s not about estimating story points, but about assigning a priority score to product backlog items. Each team member, from the product owner to developers, plays a role, making decisions through democratic consensus rather than the highest-paid person’s opinion (HiPPO).

Stay in-the-know on all things product management including trends, how-tos, and insights - delivered right to your inbox.

Stay in-the-know on all things product management including trends, how-tos, and insights - delivered right to your inbox.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive our newsletter and occasional emails related to The Product Manager. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more details, please review our Privacy Policy. We're protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Origin Of Priority Poker

Priority poker is an agile methodology that came from the fusion of the fundamentals of planning poker and the need for inclusive prioritization in product management. It shifted the focus from effort estimation in software development to prioritizing functionalities in the product backlog so high-priority tasks lead the roadmap.

How To Play Priority Poker

Make a list of features, then assign a value to each. The value can be based on anything, but it is typically based on how important the feature is to the success of the product. You can play priority poker in person, online, asynchronously or in real time.

How To Play Priority Poker in Person

Get your team members together, hand out playing cards, and let the games begin!

1. The product owner or scrum master acts as the moderator and presents a user story or backlog item.

2. After a discussion, everyone reveals their card at the same time. The numbers might follow the Fibonacci sequence, a common element in planning poker work.

3. Talk it out until you’ve reached a consensus on the priority score.

How To Play Priority Poker Online

Since many of us are living the 'WFH' life, playing priority poker online is a much more common scenario for most teams. Product management tools like Jira offer templates and integrations for real-time priority planning poker sessions where remote agile teams can engage effectively in the prioritization process.

How To Start an Asynchronous Priority Poker Game

If your team is spread across time zones, asynchronous priority poker will come in handy. Use a platform that lets team members vote on their availability so everyone is included in the prioritization process.

Here are a few online priority poker platforms you can try out:

How To Start a Real-Time Game

Rally your development teams on a video call, and use a digital product prioritization tool. This is the next best thing to meeting in person since it allows for lively discussions and an immediate consensus.

The 9 Key Benefits Of Priority Poker

  1. Democratic Decision-Making: Every stakeholder, from the product owner to team members, has a say.
  2. Team Alignment: Ensures all members, including the scrum master, are on the same page.
  3. Clear Prioritization: Turns a daunting backlog into a prioritized list of actionable items.
  4. Enhanced Communication: Fosters open dialogue and breaks down silos within agile teams.
  5. Time Efficiency: Makes the prioritization process quicker, a boon in fast-paced product development.
  6. Engagement and Fun: Brings the excitement of a poker game to planning sessions.
  7. Transparency: Lays out priorities openly, minimizing the influence of the highest paid person’s opinion.
  8. Conflict Resolution: Acts as a neutral ground for discussing and resolving differing viewpoints.
  9. Versatility: Adaptable to various settings, from scrum poker in a meeting room to a digital sprint planning session.

Priority poker is a great way to make feature prioritization strategic, engaging and effective. 

Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more product management resources and guides, plus the latest podcasts, interviews, and other insights from industry leaders and experts.

By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor of The Product Manager. Following six years of experience in the tech industry, she pivoted into the content space where she's had the pleasure of working with some of the most brilliant voices in the product world. Driven by insatiable curiosity and a love of bringing people together, her mission is to foster a fun, vibrant, and inspiring community of product people.