Sprint Planning is one of the key components of the Scrum Puzzle. It should take place after the Backlog Refinement meeting – click on the link to find out more information about this Scrum technique. As a quick recap – during the Refinement session we review and decompose the PBIs (Product Backlog Items) and decide on their priority. Backlog Refinement should be treated as an introduction to agile Sprint Planning.
Working with the Sprint Backlog
During the Sprint Planning session the Product Owner sets the goals for the upcoming iteration and negotiates with the Development Team which Product Backlog items are going to be delivered. Next, the developers decompose those PBIs into smaller tasks and estimate them (a task should not take longer than one working day to complete). Keep in mind that most often the Development Team will identify only around 60% of the tasks. The remaining work is going to be unveiled during the Sprint. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about.
The Sprint length
All Sprints should be of the same length. The maximum Sprint size allowed in the Scrum guide is 30 working days or 1 calendar month. However, if possible, we recommend to keep Sprints within a one or two weeks timebox. Below is an example of a Scrum meetings schedule for a two week Sprint (without the daily standups).
According to the Scrum framework each Sprint should end with a delivery of a working, usable product (e.g. a new product feature). Because of that each iteration is a mix of analysis, design, coding, testing and implementation work.
Working in a Sprint
After the Sprint Planning meeting is over the team begins working on the tasks added to the Scrum board. A Scrum team should self organize its work – by that we mean that the team members will know how to divide work between themselves in order to deliver a working solution as fast as possible. Beginnig Scrum teams require more support from the Scrum Master.
During the Sprint the Scrum Master acts as a guardian, protecting the team from external influences and tasks that are not related to the product that is being developed. No one (apart from the Product Owner and only in exceptional situations) is allowed to terminate the Sprint before its official end date.
A word of advice – don’t forget that Scrum is an agile framework and the team needs to stay flexible throughout the entire project. Even though the Sprint Planning sounds like a thorough planning session there is always room for the uncertainty associated with this project management approach. Scrum teams do not panic when change happens – they embrace it and adjust to the new requirements. That is why we work in Sprints that allow us to adopt to the changing environment on a regular basis.
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