How To Make The Most Out Of Sprint Planning

By Andy Sio
November 14, 2016

Sprint planning is a critical component for effectively implementing an Agile development or project management lifecycle. The ScrumMaster should facilitate the sprint planning; however, in order to effectively maximize his efforts, he should also collaborate with the Product Owner, and the entire Agile team. Making the most of sprint planning begins with a comprehensive understanding of each person’s role.

The ScrumMaster should facilitate the meeting. The Product Owner should define sprint goals and prioritize backlogs. Finally, the agile team should help to define both the work and the level of effort needed to meet their sprint commitment. Through the effective collaboration of all team members, sprint planning can help an Agile team effectively complete all project tasks.

3 Tips To Maximize Sprint Planning Efforts

Tip #1: Backlog Grooming

Before beginning the true sprint planning stage, spend some time backlog grooming, which will give the team a “preview” to the top items of the backlog. The team can then use this information to better estimate the work and effort needed to complete the future sprint. Additionally the team will benefit from hearing specific details from the product owner; these details will help them to better understand the tasks that need to be completed in the upcoming sprint. Another key benefit to backlog grooming is that the Agile team can asks questions before sprint planning begins, which can save time during the actual sprint planning stage.

Tip #2: Know Your Capacity

At the start of sprint planning the ScrumMaster should spend time discussing each person’s schedule for the entirety of the sprint. This simple discussion will reveal potential delays, such as scheduled out of office days for developers or other team members. These potential delays should be factored into the typical available hours for each team member, which will then result in the “net capacity” for the entire team. Use this number to better estimate what work can be achieved during the sprint.

Tip #3: Don’t Fill Capacity

A common mistake during sprint planning is to fill in the entire “net capacity.” By breaking down user stories into tasks, you can better estimate, down to the hour, how long each component will take. Next, you can schedule “free” time, which will effectively factor in unexpected delays or unknowns that might occur during the sprint. The simple task of leaving a little extra time, will help you to more effectively plan the timeline and account for unplanned work for your upcoming sprint.

Make The Change To Agile Today

With the above three tips at the ready, you will be able to get the most out of your sprint planning, and maximize the effectiveness of Agile project management. To further assist you in the adoption of Agile best practices, contact Sapience Consulting, LLC today. Sapience Consulting is a Minnesota-based IT company that focuses on helping businesses choose the Agile strategy and execute solutions needed to achieve future business successes.

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