What is Sprint Planning?
In Scrum, a meeting that initiates an iteration (Sprint), where members of the Scrum Team collaborate to agree on outcome(s) for that Sprint, and select work items that help achieve the outcome(s).
What’s the Benefit?
The primary benefits of Sprint Planning are that it helps ensure members of the team all have the same understanding of:
- Why. Evidence that the work to be done supports the overall Product Goal – the customer “why.”
- What. Articulation of a Sprint Goal, and selection of work items that support the Sprint Goal.
- How. Confirmation on the approach they plan to take to complete the selected work items.
Sprint Planning occurs on the first day of a Sprint, and the Sprint officially commences when Sprint Planning is complete. The longer the duration of the Sprint, the longer that the Sprint Planning meeting tends to be.
Who attends Sprint Planning?
- Scrum Master (Facilitator)
- Product Owner
- Developers *
- Subject Matter Experts (as needed)
* As articulated in the most recent update to the Scrum Guide, the term “Developers” is inclusive of all members of the Scrum Team, other than the Scrum Master and the Product Owner.
- Prioritized list of “ready” work items from the Product Backlog
- Outcomes from Sprint Retrospective
- Information about team capacity
- Sprint Goal
- Sprint Backlog
Preparing for Success
It is helpful to know in advance what team availability is going to look like during the Sprint, taking into account time-off for holidays, personal leave and other assignments. It is also helpful if team members are familiar with the highest-priority items on the Product Backlog, and are aware of any changes to business priority.
Product Owner (PO)
The most important thing for the Product Owner to be prepared to convey is the relative importance (priority) of each work item, along with sufficient detail in each work item for team members to understand its business intent and desired outcomes. It is also important for the Product Owner to be prepared to clarify the Who, What, and Why for any given work item.
The facilitator should also be familiar with the highest priority work items, along with data points that provide insight into team capacity, and any improvement items from the Sprint Retrospective. For collocated teams, the facilitator should also ensure that materials the work space is ready for use, and that materials such as Post-it Notes, index cards, Sharpies, markers, and white boards are available.
The Scrum Guide articulates three main components of Sprint Planning:
It is up to each team to decide what techniques work best for them, to ensure they all have the same understanding of the why, what, and how. Below are some examples of topics to consider.
It’s helpful to revisit the Product Goal — that is, the “why statement” — behind the work that the team is doing, in support of the product or service or other deliverable that is the focus of their efforts.
- Product Owner reviews the Product Roadmap, upcoming Epics or Features, and the reasons that the work supports organizational strategy, product vision, and similar level-setting artifacts.
- The team asks clarifying questions, as necessary.
Team members select prioritized items from the Product Backlog, which they believe can be completed during the Sprint, and which support the Sprint Goal.
- Scrum Master partnering with the Product Owner, facilitates a conversation about a draft Sprint Goal (to be revisited at the end of Sprint Planning).
- Scrum Master assists team members with evaluating their capacity during the Sprint.
- The Product Owner summarizes the highest priority items in the Product Backlog.
- The team, taking into account their capacity, along with dependencies and other factors, selects work items for the Sprint.
- The team reflects on whether they feel that it’s realistic for them to complete the selected work items, making any adjustments to the Sprint Backlog that might be needed.
- The team discusses any modifications that might be necessary to the Sprint Goal, based on the work items that they selected.
Team members ensure that they have the same understanding of how they plan to complete individual work items. The ways in which teams address the How can vary considerably. Below are some guidelines.
- The Product Owner often steps away during this part of the conversation (it’s helpful if they are reachable for any questions that may arise).
- Team members may choose to articulate specific tasks they need to complete for work items.
- If at any point information emerges that might impact the Sprint Goal, consult with the Product Owner and reevaluate accordingly.
- The facilitator ensures that team members feel they have adequately addressed the considerations that are unique to any given work item, and that they have clarity on which work item they will be working on first.
- The facilitator ensures the team is ready to start the Sprint.
Additional Guidance for Sprint Planning
- The Product Owner is the decision-maker with respect to business priority; the team decides how much work they can realistically complete during the Sprint.
- Approaches vary from one team to the next with respect to evaluating their capacity. The amount of confidence that a team has with respect to evaluating its capacity tends to be directly proportional to how much history they have had with working together.
- Any work item that the team accepts into the Sprint should be “ready,” meaning that they should be able to work on it with no need for further clarification.
- While the Product Owner owns the Product Backlog, it is important for the team to be able to articulate the need to address setting aside time to address technical debt that may arise, along with other forms of “enabling” work that make the product or service as robust and maintainable as possible over time.
- When considering how to do the work, it’s ideal if more than one team member has input into the approach, and it’s also preferable for partnering to take place when doing the work, to eliminate gaps, create alignment, and cross-pollinate knowledge.
- In the event that specialized skills are needed to complete a particular work item, team members may need to take that into account when selecting work items.
Sprint Planning Video
Sprint Planning Podcasts
Sprint Planning Example
Authored by Steve Moubray
Edited by Philip Rogers
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