Sprint Planning

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Purpose

The first thing to do in each Sprint is Sprint Planning. Sprint Planning is a short meeting for the Scrum Team to prepare a Sprint Backlog, which is their plan for what they are going to deliver until the end of the Sprint.

In the beginning of the project, the Scrum Team does not wait until the Product Backlog is 100% planned (all requirements are gathered and cleared) to start developing the project. As soon as the Product Backlog is mature enough (has the necessary number of stories) which will provide the information for the Sprint, the Scrum Team can start the first Sprint.

Duration of Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning is a timeboxed meeting, usually fixed to 8 hours for a one month Sprint, or shorter for Sprints of less than a month.

During the Sprint Planning

The Development Team estimates the capacity of work it can deliver in a single Sprint. The Product Owner has already ranked and ordered the Product Backlog based on the business value of the items. The Product Owner also ensures that the items are easy to understand. The Development Team then selects an appropriate number of items from the top of the Product Backlog, and puts them in the Sprint Backlog, to deliver in the current Sprint. The amount of work for each item is estimated by the Development Team and the total amount of work of the selected Product Backlog items is close to the estimated capacity of the Development Team.

The Scrum Team composes a Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal is an objective that should be met within the Sprint through the implementation of the Product Backlog. The Sprint Goal provides guidance to the Development Team on why it is building the Increment.

The scope of the Sprint, which is made up of the items selected from the Product Backlog, needs more details through the Sprint. These details should be aligned with the Sprint Goal, and likely re-negotiations for them should be done in presence of the Product Owner.

When the items are selected and the Sprint Goal is agreed, it is time to plan how they will deliver the items into a “Done” product Increment and realize the Sprint Goal. This is the second element of the Sprint Backlog: tasks. Not all tasks are planned in this event; having a detailed plan for the first few days is enough. The Development Team can prepare detailed plans for the rest of the work later on. After all, Agility is about replacing upfront planning with adaptation.

A detail plan, is a breakdown of a Product Backlog item into detailed tasks needed to be done in order to create the item. Each task might have estimates, dependencies, and similar information to make tracking possible.

The Sprint Backlog will be ready at the end of this meeting and the Development Team should be able to describe what items they will deliver through the Sprint, and how they will do it.

The Output of Sprint Planning

There is no specific rule on documenting, storing, and presenting the Sprint Backlog. It can be on a simple, physical board, with items and tasks on sticky notes.

The Sprint Backlog consists of the following:

  • Selected items from the Product Backlog, to be delivered through the Sprint (they do not change during the Sprint)
  • A detailed plan for turning the selected items into “Done” Increment of the product and to realize the Sprint Goal (they evolve during the Sprint)

The Sprint Backlog elements are shown on the sample board above. The board can contain other elements such as the Sprint Goal, and a burn-down chart. This sample Scrum board has extra features for tracking the tasks and items in “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done” columns as well.

Items in the Sprint Backlog usually have the same order they had in the Product Backlog; therefore, the Development Team should work on the higher items first.

Scaling

In scaled Scrum, members of all Development Teams will gather and select their items with agreement with the Product Owner. Each team has its own Sprint Backlog.

External Resources