Ever been a part of a sprint planning meeting which seemed to last an eternity with no concrete conclusion achieved? Everyone has. And we are here to change that.
This article is all about teaching you how to conduct a sprint planning meeting that will make your upcoming sprints more effective, efficient and hopefully less miserable. Let’s start at the very beginning.
What exactly is a Sprint Planning Meeting?
Well, a sprint planning meeting is a ceremonial event in the Scrum paradigm that has been adopted by many teams in the organizational culture nowadays. These teams utilize these gatherings to mark the beginning and ending milestones of the sprint.
Sprint meetings are neatly designed to answer any and every question, the team member has in their mind. What needs to be delivered and how early do we need it delivered? How would the team accomplish a certain milestone? All these questions are answered in these sprint meetings.
Let us talk about all of the roles involved in a typical sprint meeting.
The ScrumMaster is kind of the meeting planner in this whole shindig. It’s their job to ensure that all the meeting rooms are booked on the appropriate time, all the supplies needed for the meeting are available, all the team members are present and prepped up for the meeting, and all of the devices that will be used in the meeting e.g. video conferencing devices and other connectivity modules, are ready to go when they are needed.
It is also the job of the ScrumMaster to manage the time properly so that there is a complete alignment on the sprint goal before the meeting is finally concluded.
The Product owner’s responsibility is a little more specific. They have to prepare all of the files and other items that are in the backlog before the meeting commences. They have to clarify the details of each and every item present in that backlog.
They also have to be the ultimate resource to the team when questions are raised around acceptance criteria or any use case. This is a very important meeting for a PO, and they should prepare heavily for it.
Naturally, the people that make it all happen are also going to be present in the meeting. These include developers, test engineers, and designers, roughly al of the people that are a part of the workforce working on the product.
All of these people have to be properly active in the meeting and they are required to ask a lot of questions so that they can leave the meeting with a crystal clear understanding of what they have to do and what is going to be their next assignment in the upcoming sprint.
If you’re organizing your first-ever sprint meeting, then just keep on thing in mind that every entity in the Agile paradigm improves over time and if your first meeting doesn’t go well then you can always improve yourself into performing well the next time.
Why a Sprint Planning Meeting is necessary?
You will ask yourself a question: Why should you have a sprint planning meeting in the first place? Well, you need to have one because it is an amazing opportunity to gather all of the team in one place and let everyone know what their role is, in the upcoming sprint.
This will make your team more confident because there will be no confusion in role management and prioritization of tasks. A good team is one that knows what their exact roles are. Other benefits that a team gets from a sprint planning session are:
- Promotes Just In Time planning
- Task estimation
- Task discovery
- A common understanding of the product
- Task sign Up
- Task prioritization
- Collaboration and team building
- Knowledge and skill set improvement
- Different perspectives
Let us discuss some of the major benefits of sprint planning meetings.
1. They Define your Goals
If you are in the position of a project manager or a ScrumMaster on a team, then you should really be organizing sprint planning meetings to have your team deliver quality development work per sprint. These gatherings will help your team achieve success because it lets them know what their roles are and what they need to deliver.
As the organizer of the meeting, you need to define two major things for your team.
Sprint Goal is a little description of what the goals and milestones of the team should be during the sprint. The whole team participates in writing this charter and they can always revert back to its central idea if they get off track.
The Sprint Goal is also a sort of cliff note that the senior stakeholders can read and understand what the whole team is trying to achieve from the sprint.
This is basically a listicle of all of the items that are present in the product backlog which has been selected by the team and has been committed to be worked on during the course of the sprint. It also contains the estimation of each task and also the information about all of the necessary tasks that are needed to deliver the work.
2. Brings the Team together
Sprint Planning is an incredible technique to bring the team closer because as a manager you are not supposed to show any bias, and everyone is treated equally.
In addition to that, when you are creating the statement or the charter for the sprint, you take input from every individual on the team which creates a sense of empowerment among the troops and they remain loyal to the project and the company.
3. Sprint Meetings are a Reference Point to Measure Velocity
If you want to know how much your team is capable of accomplishing their goals, you should run a sprint planning meeting. This is typically called velocity and it is only calculated after a particular team has been working together for a while. According to Scrum Inc., Velocity is defined as:
Velocity is a measure of the amount of work a Team can tackle during a single Sprint and is the key metric in Scrum.
What is the procedure of running a Sprint Planning Meeting?
Before the meeting is conducted, you have to prepare all of the entities that are required in the meeting. This is one of the most crucial steps and has to be properly followed by the ScrumMaster or any other individual conducting the meeting. Let us take a look on the Preparation for the Sprint Planning Meeting.
Sprint Planning Meeting Preparation
In the days leading up to the day of the meeting, the Product Owners must make sure that all of the items that are a part of the backlog are considered to be discussed in the meeting complete the team’s criteria of being ready.
These items include bugs, new features, stakeholder feedback and optimizations of all kinds. This means that all of these items are properly identified, test cases have been written and all the descriptions have been set. This prep work is necessary because if the PO tends to all of this during the meeting, it will be less efficient and very time-consuming for all of the attendees.
Measurement of User Stories
With the help of the team, the Product Owner needs to ensure that every story to be discussed in the meeting is of equal size, and not too long or too little. The team will have a better understanding of performing this task when they would have worked together for a while.
The Team’s Commitment has to be properly Examined
If you are hosting a sprint planning meeting or just a normal one, an important thing that you have to keep an eye on is everyone’s availability. Is anyone on holiday or are there any company holidays coming? Confirm everyone’s availability on a day and confirm that day for the meeting.
Plan your Sprint Accordingly with the Team’s Schedule
Sometimes, the resources or the team members are busy elsewhere and they can’t fully commit to providing their services during the sprint. You should gather this information and take it into consideration before you plan the sprint.
What are the steps involved in the Sprint Planning Meeting?
The following steps happen during the Sprint Planning Meeting:
- Team Capacity is confirmed
- Any new information that can impact the plan is discussed
- The team is reminded of the ultimate goal that they need to achieve
- Present the velocity to be used for this release
- All the known issues and concerns are confirmed
- The definition of DONE is reviewed and the appropriate updates are made based on the technology and skill
- Present proposed product backlog items to consider for the sprint backlog
- Needs of the team are determined, they are signed up to work and the work owed is estimated
- Get back to work
- Confirm any new issues and concerns raised during meeting and record
- Confirm any assumptions or dependencies discovered during planning and record
- ScrumMaster calls for a group consensus on the plan
- Product Owner answers clarifying questions and elaborates acceptance criteria
We know that the whole sprint planning meeting and the preparation process can be very daunting at first but if the steps mentioned in this article are properly followed and the team is ready, it is an incredible procedure in the scrum paradigm.