What is Sprint Planning? A Comprehensive Guide on Agile Sprints

What is Sprint Planning? A Comprehensive Guide on Agile Sprints

The Agile project management methodology is one of the most interesting and effective ways to manage your projects and get the most value out of them. They encompass everything from the software development process to construction management.

But how does methodology work? How is it so effective? The answer is Sprints.

Sprints are incredibly productive ways of working on achieving different goals and milestones associated with the project, which have been set by the upper management or the project managers.

But how do these sprints unfold and what are the steps that go into the sprint planning process.

If you are here to find out about that then you are in luck, because in this article, we are going to talk about sprint planning, what it contains and what are the steps that go into the sprint planning process. Let’s begin.

What is Sprint Planning?

In scrum methodology, the work management or projects are divided into time intervals called “Sprints”. The sprint duration could be anything between 1 to 4 weeks, but most popularly businesses go for 2-week sprints.

A sprint planning meeting determines what backlog items will be picked to be worked on in the next sprint. The meeting includes the product manager, scrum master, and the whole scrum team.

The sprint planning event that is perfect for establishing a developmental plan and goals for any and every upcoming sprint in the project development process.

If your sprint planning session is successful, it will yield two important items for your development team. They are:

  • Sprint Backlog: This backlog is a collection or a list of stories that the development team has agreed to work on in the next couple of weeks or the upcoming sprint
  • Sprint Goal: This goal is a summary of what the project development team plans to achieve in the next sprint

Duration of a Sprint Planning Session and the Attendees

sprint-planning-session-duration

The scrum framework that contains these sprint sessions suggests that the sprint planning should be time-boxed and that it should always have an upper time limit for each session so that it should take only 1 or 2 hours for every week of sprint time when the development team is working.

Let’s take a look at the attendees of these regular sprint planning sessions.

  • Product Owner: This member of the attendance is the one who explains all of the product backlog items to the people in attendance, is also responsible for answering all of the backlog questions that are asked during the sprint planning sessions, and helps the team to define the sprint goal according to the needs and requirements of the project
  • Development Team: The development team is the most important audience of all as they make all the commitments to finish the work of the sprint, estimate all of the timeframes in which all of the work activities and tasks are going to be finished, and explain all of the risks and scope creeps that can hinder the progress of work that is going to be done in the sprint
  • Scrum Master: Another important entity in the whole process is the scrum master who is the one responsible for conducting the sprint planning session and is also responsible to coordinate all of the meetings related to the sprints in question
  • Product Manager: The product manager can also be the product owner, but that’s never been confirmed

One thing that you need to know is that if you want to get the most creative and strategic input from the team members of the development department, you need to bring the product roadmap of your entire process to sprint planning meetings, and not just the product backlog.

This will make sure that the entire development team has all of the information laid out in front of them regarding the strategic vision of the organization about the product that they are working on so that they can contribute more effectively during the sprint planning session.

The sprint planning checklist

Here is a quick checklist that will be helpful in your next sprint planning session:

  • Agree on the backlog items to be moved in the next sprint
  • Be sure of when the next sprint begins. Team members may be confused about the sprint duration, and if the current sprint is extended for a few more days/weeks. It’s a must that all the members of the scrum team are aligned.
  • Estimate the story points beforehand.
  • Determine team capacity and tally the number with the story points.
  • End the meetings with the retro session (make use of retrospective tools) on how they worked in the last sprints, and ask for suggestions for the improvements.
  • The project manager should prepare the previous sprint statistics and share them with the team and higher management.

What Details are discussed during a Sprint Planning Meeting?

As we have discussed earlier that the main objective of the entire sprint planning meeting is to work out all of the main details regarding the development team’s planning tasks during the next sprint.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the following details that are discussed in a sprint planning session.

  • The first thing that the team has to decide is the team’s overall strategic objective that is going to be achieved in the next sprint. This objective is the goal that the development team is going to achieve, and will be represented as a one or two-sentence sprint goal for the entire team.
  • The second step is to review the entire product backlog that was presented to the meeting and discuss all of the items or the elements in it that belong on the next sprint backlog, and you also have to state the reason why you are doing that to avoid confusion later on.
  • The next step is to call for a team huddle or a team consensus on the proposed backlog items and the sprint goal. This whole activity is led by the scrum master.
  • The fourth step is to discuss the entire team’s capacity.
  • The team also discussed all of the known issues that can slow the progress of the entire sprint or disrupt the sprint backlog
  • All of the new sprint’s backlog’s tasks are assigned to the team members according to their capacity, specific skill sets, and any other relevant criteria that the meeting host deems necessary.
  • The timeframe of the entire upcoming sprint is also discussed according to the needs and requirements of the product and the development team members.

One thing that you need to make sure of in order to make your sprint planning meeting as productive as you can, is to have a well-thought-out product backlog. This will help you reduce any issues or confusion during the meeting and help the team make better decisions.

Conclusion

This was our short but comprehensive guide to sprint planning and how you can conduct one for your product in 2022. If you think that we failed to mention something important, then write to us and we will review it ASAP.


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