Scrum Guide

Scrum Sprint Planning

Scrum Sprint Planning

In Agile project management, every Scrum development cycle begins with a sprint planning session. But, like any other team, Agile Scrum teams can often encounter the problem of unproductive, unstructured, or unfocused sprint planning meetings.

In this section you’ll learn how a sprint planning meeting should be structured, and why they are so important for Agile Scrum teams. Avoid productivity setbacks and pave the way for more successful sprints.

Before we dive deeper into what a sprint planning meeting is, we should understand how Agile Scrum sprints work.

How does a sprint work?

A sprint is a period of a time where a Scrum team will work on a set of features and objectives prioritized for that development cycle. Sprints can last anywhere from 1-4 weeks and are typically followed by a sprint review and sprint retrospective. 

Let’s move on to the definition of a sprint planning meeting.

What is a sprint planning meeting?

A sprint planning meeting is a time-boxed event where the product owner, Scrum master, and Scrum team gather to decide what backlog items should be worked on during the next sprint. The main outputs of a sprint planning meeting are the sprint goal and the sprint backlog. 

  • A sprint goal is a high-level description of what the team aims to accomplish by the end of the sprint. It does not need to be overly detailed or go into day-to-day tasks. 
  • A sprint backlog is a list of features and functionalities identified by the product owner and stakeholders as essential to the product increment and, ultimately, the final deliverable(s).

Who attends the sprint planning meeting?

Sprint planning meetings are a collaborative planning session involving the product owner, development team, and Scrum master. During the sprint planning meeting, the team will collaborate to establish what priority features will be worked on in the next development cycle.

In the sprint planning meeting, the role of each team member is as follows: 

  1. Product owner outlines the sprint goal and objectives of the sprint based on the product roadmap and stakeholder priorities.
  2. Development team conveys their bandwidth and capacity. This is essential for establishing the amount of work that can realistically be accomplished during the sprint cycle.
  3. Scrum master ensures that Scrum processes are followed and communication and productivity obstacles are addressed. 

The sprint planning meeting should set the right expectations, provide the proper structure and define how each item on the product backlog should be tackled during each sprint.

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Importance of a sprint planning meeting

Sprint planning meetings are an essential Scrum ceremony, but why exactly should you hold them and what value do they bring? Scrum sprint planning provides an excellent opportunity for teams to get on the same page, establish the goals for the next development cycle, and be realistic about the bandwidth and capacity of the project team. 

Here are a few of the ways Sprint planning can be beneficial for Scrum teams: 

  1. Sets clear defined goals: For a Scrum sprint to be effective, it needs a starting point and a finish line. When goals are clarified, it paves a clear path to a more successful sprint.
  2. Creates a communication platform: The open nature of a sprint planning meeting should create a forum for communication regarding work and priorities.
  3. Collaboration: A Scrum sprint planning meeting should help to bridge the gap between the product owner and the development team.

Length of the sprint planning meeting

If you’ve been in a meeting that has lasted hours without a clear plan being set out, then you know how important it is that all meetings should have a time limit. 

When planning a sprint, one rule of thumb is to multiply the duration of the sprint (in weeks) by two hours. For example, a three-week sprint should ideally have a meeting limit of six hours; a two-week sprint will ideally have a limit of four hours. This is called a time-box — a period set aside to achieve a task.

The Scrum master facilitates productive conversation and helps the team reach a consensus before the meeting’s end.

How to run a sprint planning meeting

Running a sprint plan might seem easy, but it might be more complicated than you think. For starters, there should be a plan and structure that you and your team follow. It’s advised that you share and create a meeting agenda so there is a clear understanding of meeting priorities.

Sprint planning meeting agenda sample:

  1. Phase 1: The product owner communicates the sprint priorities for the team. They may provide an overview of the sprint objectives and the proposed velocity of the development team. An agreement must be reached between the product owner and the team on what backlog items are prioritized for this sprint.
  2. Phase 2: How do we do this? When the focus has been determined, your team can move on to the how. How will we accomplish the sprint goal? People can ask questions and discuss velocity to ensure they are on the same page. Ideally, notes for a sprint meeting should be put in a project management solution like Wrike, where all team members can access.

Executing your sprint planning meeting with Wrike

The purpose of the sprint planning meeting is to arrive at the product backlog and product goal.

Track your sprint planning meeting notes with Wrike. Outline your sprint goal and backlog, turn discussion points into actionable tasks, and collaborate effectively with Wrike. 

Learn more about Scrum methodology in other sections of this Scrum Guide.

Further reading
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A Guide To Managing Agile Meetings

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How To Get the Most Out of Stand Up Meetings