Within agile methodology, there is a framework that many organizations and companies follow to reach success. It’s called scrum — named after the rugby term — and it’s a way of organizing work into sprints.
This approach has been found to be very successful for product development, as it allows for teams to be flexible and adaptive while still maintaining a high degree of productivity.
The scrum process breaks down into three core phases: sprint planning, the sprint, and the sprint review. In this article, we’ll explore what goes into each of these phases in order to help you better organize and execute your next sprint.
Let’s dive in!
Agile sprints: explained
So, what is a scrum sprint?
In scrum, the framework stipulates that breaking work down into sprints of fixed duration is the best way to ensure regular delivery of value to stakeholders. The length of a sprint is typically two or four weeks, and at the end of a sprint, the team should have something tangible to show for their efforts.
The goal of a sprint is not only to produce something tangible, but also to ensure that the team is constantly moving forward and making progress. This is why it’s important to have a sprint goal, which is a specific objective that the team agrees to achieve during the sprint.
The three phases of scrum
Now that we’ve defined what a sprint is, let’s take a look at the three phases of scrum:
1. Sprint Planning: This is where the team comes together to come up with a sprint goal, and then determines how they will accomplish that goal during the sprint.
2. The Sprint: This is where the team actually works on accomplishing their sprint goal.
3. The Sprint Review: At the end of the sprint, the team comes together to review what they’ve accomplished and determine whether they met their sprint goal. They may also decide to adjust their sprint goal based on what they’ve learned.
Most of the time, this method is used by software development companies — but it can be applied to other types of work as well.
Examples of sprints
You may be wondering; what does a sprint actually look like? It’s not a literal sprint, of course, and it doesn’t even need to be super fast. The idea is that you’re constantly moving forward, making progress and getting things done.
Here’s an example of a sprint in action:
You work at a software development company and your team has decided they want to update the company website.
- In the planning phase, your team sits down and establishes a few key goals for the website update, such as adding a new section to the website or redesigning the home page.
- They then come up with a plan for how they will accomplish these goals during the sprint.
- The team begins working on the website update and, at the end of the sprint, they have a finished product that they can show to stakeholders.
- The team then meets in the sprint review to discuss what they did, what went well, and whether they met their goals. Based on this feedback, they may adjust their goals for the next sprint.
This is just one example of how scrum can be used in the workplace. It’s important to remember that the sprint framework is flexible, and you can adapt it to fit your specific needs.
Since each phase of scrum sprinting is quite involved, it’s important to understand each on a deeper level. Today, we’ll be discussing sprint planning in detail. This includes understanding the purpose of sprint planning, what goes into a good sprint plan and how to execute it successfully.
Purpose of sprint planning
The primary goal of sprint planning is to come up with a plan for the upcoming sprint. This includes identifying the goals for the sprint, as well as the tasks needed to achieve those goals.
The planning phase is also an opportunity for the team to get organized and start building momentum. By taking the time to plan out their work in advance, they can avoid wasting time later on trying to figure out what needs to be done.
What goes into a good sprint plan?
There are several key elements that should be included in every sprint plan. Here’s a quick rundown:
1. The goals of the sprint: These should be specific, measurable and achievable. They should also align with the company’s overall goals.
For example: The goal of the website update sprint might be to redesign the home page within a certain timeframe.
2. The tasks needed to achieve those goals: Once the goals have been established, it’s time to figure out what needs to be done in order to achieve them. This should include a timeline and estimate for each task.
3. Assigning tasks to team members: After the individual tasks have been identified, you will need to assign them to specific team members. This helps ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of what they need to do and prevents overlap.
4. The sprint backlog: This is a list of all the tasks that need to be completed in the current sprint, as well as their priority level.
In the planning phase, you’ll also need to identify what the desired outcome of the sprint is. This could be anything from a working prototype to a completed product.
Executing the sprint plan
Let’s dive into the actual sprint in terms of how you would go about executing it.
1. Meeting with stakeholders
The first step is to meet with any stakeholders who need to be updated on the progress of the sprint. This could include upper management, clients or other teams within the company.
2. Reviewing past sprints
In order to establish a realistic plan for the current sprint, it’s helpful to review what was accomplished in past sprints. This can help you set achievable goals and avoid repetition.
3. Establishing the sprint goal
The goal of the sprint should be clearly communicated to all team members. It should also be written down and accessible to everyone.
4. Breaking down the goal into tasks
This is where the real work begins. Each task should be clearly outlined and assigned a specific individual to complete it.
5. Assigning resources
Once the tasks have been assigned, you’ll need to determine who has the time and resources to complete them.
6. Setting a timeframe
Each task should have a specific timeframe attached to it. This helps keep everyone on track and prevents tasks from dragging on for too long.
7. Measuring progress
It’s important to track the progress of the team throughout the sprint in order to ensure that they are on track to meet their goals.
The final step is to hold a sprint review at the end of the sprint in order to assess what was accomplished and determine whether the goals were met. This meeting should also be used to generate feedback that can be used in future sprints.
Tips for organizing a successful sprint
As with any agile framework, there are a few tips that will help you organize a successful sprint. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Preparation is everything
Before you even hold the first meeting, it’s important to do your homework — not just on the project, but on the product owner, the stakeholders and the team itself. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page from the start and that there are no surprises during the sprint.
Keep it manageable
While it’s important to set goals that are challenging, they should also be achievable. Trying to do too much in a single sprint can lead to frustration and missed deadlines.
Set and stick to a time limit
When completing a sprint, it’s best to have weekly planning meetings — but don’t drain away hours and hours of team productivity. Set a time limit for these meetings and stick to it.
Focus on your input and output
Input and output are two key metrics that should be tracked during every sprint. Input is defined as the work that goes into the sprint, while output is what’s produced as a result of the sprint. Measuring these metrics will help you track progress and determine whether the goals of the sprint were met.
Of the two metrics, however, output is what you want to focus on most. If you only think about the work going in, you’ll forget to visualize the outcome and may not be able to measure the team’s progress accurately.
Organizing a sprint can seem like a daunting task, but following these tips will help make it a little easier. With a little preparation and teamwork, you’ll be sprinting towards success in no time!
Sprint Planning: Final Thoughts
The planning phase of a sprint isn’t everything, but it’s one of the most crucial elements. Starting work without one would be no different from assembling IKEA furniture without reading the instructions — it might be possible, but it’s going to be a lot harder than it needs to be.
The same goes for sprint planning. By taking the time to properly organize and execute your sprint, you’ll make sure that everyone is on the same page and that the team can focus on producing quality work.
Ready to put these tips into action? Start planning your next sprint today!