Normally, I have used sticky notes and a wall to estimate user stories. (Put the stories on the wall in the different story point columns).
The problem that I have always had with this approach is that sticky notes are SMALL and if you have a big team, you either end up with a crowd around the board, or people continuously walking up to the board. Its always been disruptive to the estimation meeting having people swarm up to the board.
There are a number of open-source and free tools out there that might allow you to do it on a computer.
But today I saw one of our business-analysts use a simple but ingenious ideas. She used a Windows 7 widget called “Sticky Notes”.
First she created Sticky Notes for the story point columns: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13….. Next she created a pile of sticky notes with the user-story title on them. Then she pulled one from the sticky note pile and we estimated it. Upon estimating the user-story, she stuck the sticky note under the correct user-story column.
Simple, indigenous and provides visibility to the entire agile team in the room.
Here is what it looked like at the end of the estimation session:
Important: The above is not the task-board. It does not represent the tasks that are planned, in progress, done, etc. It’s a board that allows for estimation of stories and being able to have a sense of what your stories assigned to a certain story-point look like. In my mind this makes it easier to have uniformity in the stories and the story points that they are assigned.