Scrum Guide

Guide to Scrum Sprints

Guide to Scrum Sprints

What is a Scrum sprint? How long should a Scrum sprint last? What’s the best way to plan a Scrum sprint? Every Scrum team is different, but the one thing that unites them is the need to execute effective and successful sprints.

In this section, we’ll explore more about sprint planning, sprint ceremonies, and what happens after the sprint is completed. Let’s begin with the definition of a Scrum sprint.

What is a Scrum sprint?

A Scrum sprint is a time-boxed period during an ongoing development cycle where a specific set of features or capabilities are worked on. A sprint usually runs for 1 to 4 weeks. During that time, the Scrum team’s main goal is to provide a product increment — a version of the product that includes the features and backlog items prioritized and completed during the sprint.

Think of a sprint as a way of breaking down the project into bite-sized chunks. In each stage, what is worked on next is based on feedback and the features prioritized during the backlog grooming and sprint planning process. 

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How many sprints are in a Scrum project?

There is no defined or “ideal” number of sprints in a project. This is because sprints are dependent on the scope of your project. Longer projects will inevitably have more sprints, but if your project is 12 weeks long, four to six sprints may be an average/standard number of springs. This brings us to the stages involved in the sprint process.

Stages of a Scrum sprint project management

Sprint project management involves a number of stages — from planning, execution, and the sprint review to the all-important sprint retrospective. In this section, we’ll cover sprint ceremonies and the key stages of a typical Scrum sprint.

Planning stage
In this stage, the Scrum team holds a sprint planning meeting. Here the product owner and the development team meet to decide what backlog items are being prioritized for the next sprint. The development team will share details around bandwidth and capacity. In the planning stage, a sprint goal is defined.

Implementation 

This is the stage that involves the bulk of the effort of the development team. During this process, the team works to produce a product increment. While the product owner doesn’t typically participate in this stage, they should be available to answer any questions the Scrum team may have during the sprint process. 

The team holds a daily Scrum meeting to keep up with progress and ensure every team member is on the same page with regards to accomplishing the sprint goal. 

Sprint review and testing
At the end of every sprint, the Scrum team, product owner, Scrum master, and stakeholders gather together to hold a sprint review meeting to test whether the product increment holds up.

In this stage, the product owner confirms if the functionalities fit the sprint’s requirements and whether the team has accomplished the sprint goal.

Sprint retrospective
In this stage, the Scrum team, Scrum master, and product owner hold a sprint retrospective where they discuss the sprint process, identify what was a success, and outline what could be improved upon.

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What to do before a Scrum sprint?

The Scrum sprint process can be challenging if it is not managed well. So what are the necessary steps needed to make the sprint process a success? Here are three important steps for getting started:

Step 1) Create, maintain, and prioritize the backlog on an ongoing basis

The product owner is responsible for maintaining the product backlog. The goal is to ensure that essential product functionalities are given the highest priority. This also ensures that there is no confusion about which features will be implemented during each sprint cycle. 

Step 2) Consider the Scrum team’s capacity during the sprint planning phase

The Scrum team shouldn’t take on more than they can handle during each sprint. So, before defining the sprint goal and finalizing the sprint backlog, the Scrum team should be transparent about their capacity and take care not to overcommit. 

Step 3) Apply Agile Scrum principles and values

Agile Scrum principles and values serve as important guidelines that ensure that the sprint produces the best possible product. Ideally, a Scrum master helps facilitate the proper execution of Agile Scrum principles and values. This empowers the team to self-organize successfully and navigate through challenges and changes. When the team applies the right principles, they face fewer obstacles and work at their best capacity.

Importance of Scrum sprints

When Scrum sprints are managed and run successfully, they can be very beneficial and improve project outcomes. Here are some of the top benefits Agile Scrum teams gain from well-run sprints. 

More transparency
At every stage of the sprint process, the Scrum team collaborates and shares ideas that could impact the project’s success. Team members are free to express any objections, keeping in mind the goals and objectives of the sprint and project at large. This ensures that everyone remains on the same page and reduces the chances of project failure. 

Increased productivity

The sprint process helps improve the productivity of the team and enables continuous improvement. A side effect of a successful sprint process is that the team is able to work on high-value, high-priority tasks and features. 

Improved focus and clarity
Scrum sprints normally involve the breakdown of a project into smaller tasks and objectives. This ensures that the team focuses on achieving a particular sprint goal at hand. That means the team isn’t focusing on a million different tasks and priorities. 

Flexibility
Working in sprints enables the Agile Scrum team to adapt and respond to change based on evolving priorities and customer feedback. Agile project management requires a level of team flexibility. Sprints ensure that teams are not overly rigid or planning too far ahead to be able to respond to change.  

Successful Scrum teams use Wrike

In Agile methodology, it is essential that Scrum teams are able to work and collaborate effectively, prioritize work, and deliver quickly. 

Project management software like Wrike gives teams visibility and enables them to plan and executive more collaborative sprints. Learn more about how Scrum teams work together to achieve sprint objectives in the Scrum Team Roles section of this guide.

Further reading
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