Sprint Planning is one of the Scrum Events in which work performed in a Sprint is planned and is created by the collaborative work of the entire Scrum Team. Sprint Planning is a kick-start for the Sprint to begin. The primary purpose of this meeting is to define the work that is to be achieved and analyze how to accomplish the task discussed. Scrum encourages the entire Scrum Team to continuously deliver Sprints to develop working software while simultaneously learning and improving the Scrum knowledge and skills.
Sprint Planning Meetings are time-boxed meetings where a maximum of eight hours is allotted for a Sprint of one month. The shorter the Sprint, the quicker is the Sprint Meetings. The ScrumMaster coordinates this meeting and makes sure that the attendees understand the purpose of the Sprint and how it would enhance the product quality. The ScrumMaster makes sure that the event is time-boxed, and the use of the meeting gets fulfilled.
What is a Sprint Goal?
Sprint Goals are the objective of the Sprint Meeting, which is met by implementing the Product Backlog. It gives direction and guidance to the Development Team and provides them an idea of how the Sprint would build the Increment. The Sprint Goal is created within the Sprint Meetings and gives the team members a sense of flexibility regarding the functionality implemented within the Sprint. The Development Team works concerning the Sprint Goals in their mind and makes plans and efforts to achieve the Sprint Goals.
Who is involved in Sprint Planning?
The Sprint Planning Meetings usually involve the whole Scrum Team i.e., the Scrum Development Team, the ScrumMaster, and the Product Owner.
- The Product Owner identifies the preferred item from the Product Backlog and their relative priorities and proposes a Sprint Objective.
- The Development Team analyzes and determines the number of Product Backlog items they can complete from the forecasted Product Backlog items.
- The ScrumMaster facilitates Sprint Planning such that discussion about the Sprint is productive.
- The ScrumMaster also makes sure that the Scrum Team agrees on a proper Sprint Goal.
Where does the Sprint Planning take place?
Sprint Planning Meetings are usually conducted in team rooms where all the necessary information about the Product Backlogs and other items are present, making it easier to plan Sprint Goals. The team room is a dedicated space for the entire team to discuss their project related requirements and has all the essential items necessary for conducting the meeting. All the information could be referenced and updated in the team room without investing more time and effort.
The team room also allows the Distributed Team to discuss the Sprint Planning and simultaneously reinforce person to person connections. It is an excellent opportunity for the team to understand their requirements for the product development. Networking among the team members and the Product Owners or ScrumMaster can also take place before or after the meeting and proves to be an added advantage for all the team members.
When does the Sprint Planning take place?
The Sprint Planning Meeting takes place on the first day of a new Sprint. Conducting the Sprint Planning Meeting after the Sprint Review and Retrospective Meetings of the previous Sprints proves to be very useful. Any outputs from those discussions of the last Sprint can be considered while planning the new Sprint.
The Sprint plan does not have to occur immediately after those two events but may add an advantage to the planning when it happened. The best time to conduct the Sprint planning is when everyone on the team is available. Hence, a previous notice to the team members about the meeting would alert everyone to be present and also give them time to prepare for the meeting. Also, while planning the meeting, a standard consistent time should be fixed such that everyone is available at that time.
How is the Sprint Plan Structured?
The Sprint Planning Meeting is split into two sessions- Topic I and Topic II. In the first Topic, the Product Owner reviews the list of features and proposes the required features for the next Sprint in the form of a Sprint Objective and the Development Team forecasts the possible list of features that can be done. The second Topic involves the identification of the tasks that need to be executed to accomplish the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal and the Sprint Backlog should be ready at the end of the Sprint Planning meeting.
Sprint Planning Meeting Part I
In Part I of the meeting, the Product Owner lists and reviews the Product Backlog Items and describes the elements necessary to achieve the next Sprint. This part of the session involves clarifying queries by the Development Team about the features to be added, such that no ambiguity is present between the Product Owner and the team members. The team clearly understands the requirements for the Sprint and proceeds to create the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Goal is a one-sentence description of the overall outcome of the Sprint. The Sprint Goal gives a clear direction to the development of the Sprint, and hence if the work does not directly tie up to the Sprint Goal, it is not taken up during the Sprint.
The principal activities that are conducted during the part I of the Sprint Planning Meeting are:
- The Product Owner presents the highest priority of the Product Backlog to the team.
- Together with the Development Team, the Product Owner sets the objective of the Sprint called the Sprint goal.
- The functionality of the upcoming Sprint is decided by the Product Owner and the Development Team.
- The Team selects the work from the Product Backlog and pulls it into the Sprint backlog.
This part of the meeting is termed as “the what” of the Sprint. Here, the team analyzes, evaluates, and selects the Sprint Backlog for the upcoming Sprint.
Sprint Planning Meeting Part II
In this meeting, the team decides on how the work will be built. The group begins to break down the Sprint backlog into tasks and estimate the hours to complete each work task. In this part of the meeting, the Product Owner may or may not be present. The Development Team is given the freedom to explore the possibilities to complete the Product Backlog. The team members discuss the ideas and opportunities to complete the work, and work is allocated based on the action taken up by each of the team members. The Product Owner may also present their ideas and opinions to complete the Sprint, which can be used by the Development Team.
The principal activities that are discussed in this meeting are:
- During the second Topic, the team details how they will complete the Product Backlog and plan out each individual’s activities.
- Detailed planning in the meeting includes breaking down the stories into tasks, which will enable the team to understand everything that is to be completed to finish the stories. Here, it is advisable to make testing as a different task as it would ease work.
- The team also makes estimates for completing the stories by utilizing strategies like T-shirt sizing or Planning Poker to allow the team members to sign for the work they choose and give an estimate of how long they may take to complete the task.
This meeting section is called “the how” of the Sprint Planning Meeting, where the team breaks down enough work into actionable plans.
Benefits of Sprint Planning Meeting
- The meeting enables the team to set an Objective for the Sprint and create a Sprint Goal and commitment.
- It also includes task discovery, sign up, prioritization, and estimation.
- It creates a platform where the dependencies are communicated, and the team capabilities can be identified to set and commit to an achievable goal.
- It works as an initial plan to understand what Sprint they are working on and how they will complete the task.
- The Sprint Planning may not be useful if the team does not have an adequately redefined Product Backlog from which Sprint Backlog items can be drawn.
- More time will be consumed during Sprint Planning to develop a better understanding of the product backlog items.
- Often, the team cannot set a Sprint Goal at the end of the Sprint and wind up by discussing the team’s unrelated details.
Who solves this pitfall?
In this situation, the Product Owner’s role is to execute their opinions clearly and ScrumMaster’s task to manage the meeting and ensure that effective communication takes place between the developers and the Product Owner.
The Sprint Planning meeting is the first step to start a new Sprint that is to be added to the product to enhance its quality. The Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the Development Team are a part of this meeting where they discuss what features from the Product Backlog should be added and how the team will execute these features. This meeting is applicable for teams who use Sprint framework or units whose methodology uses time-boxed iterations. Hence, this meeting is an integral part of developing the Sprint where team members, along with the Product Owner and ScrumMaster, get an objective of the Sprint and help them plan their time to achieve the features discussed.