In the world of Agile, sprints are one of your most valuable tools.
A way of fast-tracking progress within the Scrum framework, sprints help you isolate aspects of the project you’re working on so you and your team can go about your work efficiently.
However, sprints are only effective if you know which direction you’re heading in. To ascertain where you and your team will focus your energy, how long you’ll work on the sprint, and other important factors — you need a foolproof project plan.
Keep reading to learn the benefits of a free sprint planning template and how it can support your Agile team to ensure sprints are effective.
What is a sprint planning template?
The main use case for Agile sprints is in software development. With various product features to work on or fix, coming up with a clear system for your team workflow will likely result in higher levels of productivity.
During the sprint process, you’ll run through your product backlog or user stories to track down your high-priority action items. Once you’ve established what these are, you can imagine what each sprint will look like.
A standard project sprint template helps you put the pieces into place and visualize each sprint in detail for the benefit of you, your team, and any internal or external stakeholders.
With sprint templates, you can:
- List the product features you’ll tackle with each sprint
- Assign tasks to different team members
- Add status updates and priority levels
You can also map out how long they’re likely to take based on the scope of the work, the resources available to you, and expected completion dates.
Once you’re finished filling out your sprint planning template, you’ll have a comprehensive roadmap for tackling product features taking up space on your backlog. This dynamic plan for completing future projects can also help eliminate the productivity paranoia that often plagues senior leadership.
Why are sprint planning templates beneficial?
Introducing sprint planning templates can help you and your team stay on track during the product development process.
Standardize product development
When you work to a standardized template that you’ve customized to your team’s needs, you have a reliable system for working that you can replicate over and over again. What’s more, after running one or two sprint planning sessions, you’ll get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t, which can help you do a better job the next time around.
Refining your sprint planning process as you go will force you to look for bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and other hold-ups that could be costing you and your team valuable time or resources.
Focus on what matters
The way you approach a marathon versus how you would approach a short-distance race is completely different.
A marathon requires you to be focused on how you’re feeling in the moment, but also keep an eye on the future and your overall pacing. A sprint, on the other hand, is a highly-focused burst of energy, which can be very effective for achieving a lot in a short space of time.
With an Agile sprint, you encourage your team to focus only on the task in front of them.
These days, information overload is common in many workplaces, as team members have to contend with:
- Context shifting from one task to another
- Dozens of notifications from various sources
- Input from customers, stakeholders, and team members
By implementing sprint planning templates, you can help your team members put up the blinders and create a singular focus that can help them stay engaged with their work and overcome distractions. It also removes the need for individual task prioritization, so team members aren’t preoccupied with what they should be doing at any moment.
As with any form of project management, sprint planning provides you with a degree of transparency.
Instead of relying on manual updates from team members and checking in regularly, you can use the sprint planning template to systematize everything from task completion to status updates.
With a system like this in place, you have a valuable real-time project overview, which can keep you in the loop throughout the process. This data allows you to create accurate timelines, manage your resources effectively, and make any adjustments to scope that you deem to be necessary.
How to use Wrike’s sprint planning template
Wrike’s sprint planning template supports objective-focused sprints and provides you with all the information you and your team need to succeed.
Assign tasks with priority levels
When designing custom sprints for your team, it’s important to break the work down into individual tasks with corresponding priority levels. That way, when you get started, there can be no doubt about what task each team member should complete first.
With Wrike templates, you can create and then delegate project-related tasks to your team members and assign a priority level to each.
By marking each task with a priority level, you streamline your team’s workflow by minimizing confusion and taking the guesswork out of the equation.
Create accountability with clear roles
Once you’ve issued all the tasks associated with a sprint, you can also create personal accountability within your team.
With various task owners, you can share the accountability around, which should help both the team member with ownership of the task and those working on core task dependencies.
For instance, if you assign ownership for a how-to instructional video, the team member in question will know the onus is on them to complete that task. Plus, their coworker will know they are the person to contact if they’re working on tasks that could directly affect or impact the creation of the video.
Use cloud-based reports to refine your planning
Using this template isn’t just a short-term solution for making sure your current project goes according to plan. It’s a way of collecting valuable information that can inform your future projects.
With cloud-based storage, all work and communication that occurs in a Wrike sprint will remain accessible after completion. As such, you can retroactively evaluate how the project went and use this data to refine your next planning session and iron out any issues.
Here’s how you can set up and start using your Wrike sprint planning template:
Set up your custom workflows
First, create custom workflows that reflect how you want your team to work during your Agile sprint sessions.
- Under Account Management in your profile you’ll find a Workflow tab, allowing you to add and name a new workflow.
- Once you’ve created a workflow, add statuses to each section that reflect each phase of project completion, from In Progress to Completed. You can set this up to suit your team’s unique processes.
- Now, set up three folders to store the bulk of information for your team: Backlog, Sprint, and Archive. The first is where you’ll add all incoming tasks related to the project, the second will contain all live tasks, and the third is where you’ll store your completed tasks for future review.
Create a dashboard and request form
After you’ve created your custom workflows, set up your dashboard and request form to track relevant data as you make progress.
- Go back to Account Management in your profile and select Request forms.
- Create a request form and add all the important fields you’ll use to track progress during your sprints. This can include due dates, priority levels, and resource requirements.
- Now, set up a project overview by creating a new dashboard. Select New Widget and click Configure under Custom Widget. To make it suitable for your sprints, tick the box marked Include tasks from subfolders. Under filters, choose the first status you’ve added to your sprint workflow. Repeat these steps until you’ve completed your custom workflow and can visualize it all in your dashboard.
Build data reports
Finally, set up data reports that you can use after you’ve completed sprints to refine your processes.
- Click on Reports and select + New Report From Scratch or choose one of the available report templates.
- Add in any data you want to appear in your project reports.
Sprint planning best practices
In many cases, your sprints will only be as effective as your plans. You’ll need to focus on project management best practices to ensure that your plans lead to focused and momentum-driving sprints.
There are several factors to consider when you approach sprint planning to make sure you provide the right framework for your team members to work under.
Establish high-priority features
If you want to help your team members thrive from the outset, you need to think about your product features and which ones will provide the highest ROI.
Assigning task priority levels will only help you make progress if you’ve previously considered which features are the most important. This is the time to go over your product backlog to evaluate and update it.
Consider whether your strategic priorities have shifted since you created the backlog and whether it needs a refresh before you start using it to plan out your sprints.
Think about your product roadmap
To use our previous analogy, splitting a race over short distances can be effective for hitting high-level objectives quickly but running without a clearly defined direction could prove costly.
To aim your team members in the right direction, see how compatible your backlog and sprints are with your product roadmap.
Refer to this strategic document regularly to align your thinking on where your priorities should lie to satisfy the bigger picture.
Consider resource management
Regardless of how ambitious you and your team may be, you’re limited by the resources at your disposal.
To avoid biting off more than you can chew and setting unrealistic timeframes for your sprints, consider the capacity of each of your team members and budget for each one.
Capacity management is an important aspect of any project and it can be a make-or-break factor. The last thing you want is for your team members to run themselves into the ground with over-ambitious sprints, as this can lead to burnout.
Simplify sprint planning with Wrike
To reduce planning-related headaches and simplify your Agile meetings, use Wrike’s sprint planning template for your upcoming projects.
As well as streamlining your sprints, Wrike’s Agile project management software can support consistent progress in other ways:
- Manage resources: A proactive approach to resource management can help you avoid issues such as labor shortage and employee burnout. With Wrike, you can both look ahead with the resources available to you and make changes in real time when necessary.
- Automate tasks: Task automation should be an integral part of your project management process as it could save you a lot of time but can also help team members avoid context-shifting, which can interrupt their workflow. Wrike lets you push tasks forward automatically, trigger notifications to bring others into the loop, and more.
- Cross-tag team members: With cross-tagging, you can make sure every sprint you work on aligns with your other projects and objectives. Open up the doors to other departments with Wrike to create stakeholder transparency and invite valuable feedback.
A sprint planning template is essential for successful Agile project management. Download yours today from Wrike and see how we can support your team.