Scrum is a widely known Agile framework. It breaks down big complex projects into phases or stages called "sprints", which are managed one at a time. Sprints work for teams and organisations of any size, from big organisations to nonprofits.
Sprint planning is a critical component of Scrum, a project management methodology. It is a timeboxed event that takes place at the beginning of each Sprint, in which the Team decides what work will be done during that Sprint.
During sprint planning, the Team also estimates the amount of work that can be practically done during the Sprint. It is essential to set expectations and ensure that the Team can deliver a quality product at the end of the Sprint.
Sprint planning is essential for ensuring that the Team can meet its sprint goals. It is also a good opportunity for the Team to identify potential risks or issues that could impact Sprint.
What is Sprint Planning?
Sprint planning aims to give direction by developing measurable goals, setting performance targets and milestones, working on priority tasks and other activities, and defining the scope of this endeavour.
During a sprint planning session, the Scrum team comes together to plan the sprint backlog, a list of activities that need to be completed.
Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the sprint meeting, and the product owner provides input on the product roadmap. The rest of the Team offers their expertise and knowledge to help prioritise the Sprint backlog.
Sprint planning is an integral part of Scrum because it helps the Team align on the goals for Sprint and ensures everyone has the same understanding. It also allows the Team to identify any risks or impediments that could impact Sprint.
For most companies, their primary goal is growth. Growth here means delivering a product that meets customer needs and customers' changing expectations. So, sprint planning is a helpful tool for communicating, coordinating, and monitoring progress. It ensures that everyone knows what they should do if things go wrong. Sprints allow everyone to focus on the goals set during the planning and ensure maximum participation.
Importance of Sprint Planning Meetings
Sprint planning meetings are essential gatherings that occur at the start of each Sprint in Scrum. These meetings bring together the Development Team, Scrum Master, and Product Owner to collaborate and plan the upcoming work. The purpose is to determine which backlog items will be included in the Sprint and to set a clear plan and direction for achieving the Sprint Goal.
How to Prepare for A Sprint Planning Meeting
Sprint planning is a collaborative process between the Scrum team and the product owner. When preparing for a sprint planning meeting, a few steps should be taken to ensure the meeting is productive and results in a clear action plan.
Steps that can be helpful for a sprint planning meeting are:
Ensure Your Team has A Clearly Defined Leader
Agile project management establishes a clear leader in the work process. In sprint planning sessions, a product owner generally sets the goals and priorities, and the Scrum Master facilitates. They are often the leaders in the agile framework.
The leaders are responsible for managing sprint planning, organising product backlog items, and ensuring that the entire Scrum team stays on track against the sprint timeline. If they come across a challenge, for instance, a team is burdened with work, it is their duty to address this and come up with a solution to support the team member.
Complete Backlog Refinement Regularly
One of the valuable guidelines in Scrum is that the whole Team should dedicate some percentage of each Sprint to refining the Product Backlog to support future Sprints. The Sprint Backlog is a dynamic list of items selected from the Product Backlog for the current Sprint. During the sprint planning meeting, the Development Team collectively decides which backlog items they will commit to completing within the Sprint. The Sprint Backlog serves as a guide and provides transparency into the work that needs to be done during the Sprint.Backlog refinement is a continuing task for the entire Team and the product manager.
First, the Team should review the product backlog and select the items they want to include in the Sprint. Next, the Team should estimate the time each task will take. Finally, they should create a sprint goal that everyone can work towards. The backlog refinement ensures that everyone understands the purpose.
Some benefits of creating backlog refinement:
Backlog refinement creates a shared understanding of the goals of what the product will do, what it will not and what is required to be done to develop the product. This reduces the risk of implementing the wrong and brings more clarity to the Team.
Regular backlog refinement improves the sprint planning meeting efficiency. A regularly maintained product backlog ensures clarity and keeps the Team focused on the relevant tasks.
Sprint Planning sessions become comparatively easy because the Product Owner and Scrum Team begin the planning with a well-analysed and carefully estimated set of items. This can help a sprint retrospective and planning meeting be smooth and effective.
If the product backlog is regularly maintained, many questions are answered, and the team leader will know which tasks need to be completed.
Focus on Functionality—Not Just Tasks
Scrum is an Agile project management methodology that values customer input and satisfaction. The teams incorporate user stories to improve the customer service experience.
In simple words, user stories are general explanations of how an end product should function from the end user's perspective. It puts the customer at the centre of the conversation. It tells how an end product will provide value to the customer.
The team members collaborate and develop a better product that benefits the end customer. The stories ensure that the Team emphasises creating unique solutions for real users instead of checking a task off their to-do list.
The Team decides what stories they want to cover in that Sprint during the sprint planning meeting. Teams discuss the areas of focus in user stories.
During Sprint Planning Meetings
Sprint planning encourages active participation and engagement from all team members. Each member contributes their expertise and perspectives during the planning process, fostering a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for the Sprint's success. Engaging team members in sprint planning meetings promotes collaboration, creativity, and a collective commitment to achieving the Sprint Goal. Estimating team capacity accurately is also crucial during sprint planning to ensure that the team commits to a realistic amount of work that can be completed within the Sprint's time frame.
Setting a Time Limit for Sprint Planning
The most effective way to make it easier when planning a meeting is by having a set timeline beforehand and having these dates in place before you hand over the task. This means getting all the team members to agree on what the next stages are to complete before the actual meeting starts.
Be sure to put together some schedules for each member (the calendar) and stick to it. You can also create a template or take notes during the discussion.
The goal here is to build up a set of expectations for all the team members ahead of time so that they know what to expect in case something unexpected happens before the actual meeting. This information is crucial for organising the meeting and ensuring no one feels rushed into starting because they didn't expect anything.
In essence, a proper pre-meeting activity will help everyone feel better about themselves in front of the group instead of feeling stressed from having made preparations for an unplanned meeting. After the activity, this gives everyone a chance to relax and connect. It also allows the person preparing to understand why it was necessary to prepare in the first particular manner.
Research suggests around 30 per cent increase in efficiency, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance; made the companies five to ten times faster; and turbocharged innovation who practised agility.
Scrum and Agile are in demand after the training and certification courses. Students that take Agile and Scrum training courses are more likely to stand out among competitors and have a better salary than those who are not certified. More and more organisations seek professionals implementing Scrum values in their business.
IPM offers a Professional Scrum Master Certification course. By attending our Scrum education, you will be able to implement Scrum principles and Scrum values successfully in your organisation. You will become the leader that organisations need for their growth.