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What Is Scrum Planning?

Scrum planning refers to the project and its structures as a whole and should not be confused with sprint planning, which is one of its steps.

Scrum follows the Agile project management methodology. In this case, Scrum planning refers to what happens before the project kicks off — the higher-level planning that is typically carried out by the Scrum master, project owner, and key business stakeholders.

In larger organizations, creating a Scrum project plan is a process owned by the PMO office that has a view across all projects, perhaps even adopting Scrum at scale framework.

Scrum approach to planning

Scrum is used in software development and its goal, the product vision, is articulated both as functionality and the value it delivers to the end-user. Teams are regularly reminded about this throughout the project.

The initial Scrum planning is not different from more traditional methodologies. The business needs to know what is being delivered, by when, and for how much. The plan needs to identify stakeholders, risks, and KPIs.

  • Goals and deliverables - In Scrum, these are defined both as what the product  needs to deliver as well as the value its users get out of it
  • Stakeholders - Identifying who is involved and affected by the project, both negatively and positively
  • Project schedule - Working out a delivery date and the schedule of sprints to get there
  • Risk assessment - Identifying risks and making sure there are plans to mitigate them
  • Resourcing - Ensuring that the project has enough budget to cover the people and tools needed to deliver the final product

Unlike more traditional methods, Scrum planning should not be carried out extensively nor in great detail. It’s important to start as quickly as possible and put together a product backlog — a list of features needed to achieve the project’s requirements.

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Getting started with the product backlog

The official Scrum Guide refers to the product backlog as “an emergent, ordered list of what is needed to improve the product. It is the single source of work undertaken by the Scrum Team.”

It is the first step of the project following higher-level Scrum planning. The product owner is responsible for creating the backlog and will:

  • Identify product requirements and represent them as user stories
  • Prioritize them and assign story points to estimate their difficulty
  • Plan sprints needed to deliver them all

Following this initial Scrum project planning, a sprint backlog is created to tackle a set of user stories as part of the first Scrum sprint cycle.