Agile planning, grooming, and estimation

This article describes the difference between planning, grooming, and estimation in agile methodology.


Based on the company goals and user research, the Product Manager (PM) comes up with the business case.

The Designer comes up with prototypes and conducts user testing. This happens during design sprints, which engineers can participate in the discussion and activity.

Once the business case is approved, the PM creates an initiative with an epic for spikes and tech designs. (See guide for writing technical specs.)

The Tech Lead (lead engineer) works on the tech design, which is reviewed by the team.

Once the tech design is approved, the Lead and PM perform story breakdown:

  • Tickets are created, which consist of user stories and technical tasks
  • Tickets are organized under epics
  • A SWAG estimate is provided to business

The initiative is then prioritized by the PM in the product roadmap.


The iron triangle (PM, Designer, and Lead) grooms the tickets by:

  • Removing tickets out of scope
  • Moving foundational work up
  • Consolidating tickets to minimize context switching
  • Splitting out tickets to maximize parallelization of work

Each member is responsible for the following:

  • PM writes the user stories and fills out the acceptance criteria and requirements
  • Design specs the UI/UX (if applicable) and attaches the mock
  • Engineers add the technical requirements
  • Quality Assurance (QA) outlines the test plan

Once tickets are groomed, they are marked as Ready for Estimation


The team points the tickets using planning poker. The goal of estimation is to generate a discussion and the points themselves shouldn’t be held sacred. Estimation occurs periodically but can happen ad-hoc.

Tickets are then marked as Ready for Dev and are ready to be picked up.

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