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Sprint Planning

Goals

During the sprint planning, the team discusses and agrees on the scope for the upcoming sprint.

Goals:

  • Select the stories that will be implemented in the sprint.
  • Estimate the effort required for the stories in the sprint.
  • Split the stories into tasks.

General guidance:

  • The sprint planning should happen at the beginning of the new sprint (or at the end of the previous one). It usually lasts between 1 and 4 hours depending on the size of the team and duration of the sprint.
  • Each story should be able to be completed within the duration of the sprint. Otherwise, the story should be broken up into multiple stories.
  • Each task duration should be somewhere between 2 and 8 hours.

Participation

Everyone in the team should participate in the sprint planning, including the Product Owner.

Specific roles:

  • Process Lead:
    • Facilitate the conversation.
    • Ensure everyone is heard.
    • Remind scrums/agile/other principles and sprint planning goals if necessary, updating the working agreement where needed to ensure a mapping between principals and what is working/not working for the team.
  • Product owner:
    • Prior to the sprint planning: performs some backlog refinement to ensure that each story that they want to propose for the new sprint (*) :

      • Is in the correct position in the backlog, by right priority order.
      • Is attending the definition of ready.
        • Do NOT pre-assign stories to the future sprint. This is the purpose of the sprint planning.
        • During the meeting:
      • Clarify team's questions and improve the story accordingly, if necessary.
      • Describe to the team the stories that they propose for the sprint.
  • All team members:

    • Listen to the product owner story description.
    • Ask questions to make sure everyone understands each story properly.
    • Estimate the effort for each backlog item, as a team.
    • Split each story into tasks.
    • (Optional) self assign first task to team members.

(*) some teams find useful to define a Definition of ready that describes the list of things that needs to be done in each story before the product owner can propose it for a sprint. The list proposed here is the classic minimal definition of ready.

Impact

Sprint planning key benefits:

  • Everyone participates, the entire team is aware of the scope of the sprint.
  • The team has an agreement on the goal of the sprint.
  • Each team member takes responsibility in the sprint scope by participating in the story's discovery, prioritization and estimation.
  • Creates a channel to communicate, discover and discuss dependencies.

Measures

  • How many stories needed more work before being presented (and were rejected because they were not clear enough)?
  • How realistic was the estimation of effort?
  • Team satisfaction (can be assessed during the retrospective): does everyone in the team feel included in sprint planning?

Facilitation Guidance

Prior to the meeting:

  • Set sprint goal.
  • Make sure the backlog is prioritized.
  • Make sure each story that is a candidate for next sprint is ready.

During the meeting:

  • Confirm team capacity. This should be done using the average velocity (number of points achieved per sprint) and removing the project vacations/holidays/off days. If it helps, you can get the daily average velocity, divide by the number of team members and multiply by number of off days.
  • Timebox (for instance: half of the meeting for story selection, half of the meeting for task splitting).
  • Agree on how much capacity needs to be "saved" for bug fixing (might depend on the sprint).
  • Ensure everyone understands each story that is selected for the sprint.
  • Ensure everyone participates in story effort estimation.

Other considerations:

  • Take into account off days (vacations, national holidays, unavailability).
  • When the backlog reaches a size that makes it difficult to manage by one team, you might want to split into different work streams. This might require thinking about scrum of scrums and all related ceremonies.
  • For Azure DevOps, leverage the Sprint Goal extension to display the goal in the tab-label on every page within the sprint.

Last update: May 7, 2021