If you want things to move as quickly as possible and get your project completed on time (and with a big likelihood of success), implementing an efficient scrum sprint planning is important.
I have been practising the scrum methodology in managing multiple projects and I can say that it is one of the best tools for an agile company to save time and money. It’s true that the scrum method was created to support software developments, but it can also be applied to other complex, innovative or new product developments.
As a project manager, you understand that time is of the essence. For many teams, trying to sort out what should be done next while cramming for deadlines is a sure mess. Add the trouble of knowing that your team isn’t working efficiently as they should be.
Not to mention that you’re using an outdated process which makes the entire product development even more time-consuming.
All is but a disaster.
But what if you can change all that? What if you could have an organised flow of daily activities that streamline your process, ensure that everything important is given attention, and every member of your team gets the job done on time?
On this post, let us shift our focus on agile sprint planning and how you can utilize this to ensure that your projects are done properly the first time. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re into software development or some other product development. The scrum principles work with most types of projects and that makes this framework powerful.
Agile Sprint Planning
A scrum sprint is the basic unit of development in the scrum methodology. It is described as a regular, repeatable work cycle (not exceeding 30 days) in which work is completed and made ready for review. Behind every scrum sprint is the need for intensive planning and daily checks.
The planning involves the Scrum Master who facilitates the process, the Product Owner who serves as the subject matter expert and clarifies all the details of the product backlog items, and the entire agile team who are basically the people who define the work and effort necessary to complete the project.
Key Practices to Follow When Planning Sprints
Give proper context. Set expectations.
Before getting into the details such as the sprint backlog items, a major step towards a successful scrum sprint is to ensure that everyone in the agile team understands the sprint goal and what it needs to get there. Have everyone get acquainted with the ideal work with the guidance of the product owner. During the sprint planning, the following areas should be discussed:
- Acceptance criteria
- Backlog items
Setting proper expectations and proper context helps cuts down ambiguity which could result in sprint failure.
Enable the team to get things done.
Once the tasks or backlog items have been assigned to specific members of the agile team, it’s time to enable them to get out of their way. Giving the team autonomy to perform their duties helps a lot with creativity and productivity, rather than controlling them. The Scrum Master should make the team members feel safe about not knowing everything. His role is to have everyone interact with each other, jumpstart activities and collaboration, and help them figure out the solution to challenges and problems. The Scrum Master should also reinforce the story point values or time estimates to keep everyone aligned with the sprint goal.
Holding a daily meeting.
A daily meeting need not be an exhaustive one. It can be a brief, very organised meetup to keep track of the team’s progress and whether they are lagging behind schedule. It’s a great way to see what has been done, what is being done, and what everyone else is working on next. 30 days can be a short period for complex software or product development initiative. Thus, no time should be wasted. These quick catch-ups also offer an opportunity for the agile team to remove items that no longer add value to the project, as well as bring up any questions that may arise.
Everyone in the agile team should know what their roles and responsibilities are. Typically, the planning process involves the following steps:
- Product owner meets with the stakeholders to gather information about the sprint goals.
- Product owner takes notes that moves the tasks to the sprint backlog.
- Product owner meets with Scrum Master to discuss the tasks and determine the sprint length.
- Scrum master schedules a meeting for the scrum sprint planning.
- Team discuss people capacity and task velocity.
- Scrum master assigns tasks, moving project backlog to sprint backlog.
- Team members commit to completing tasks on time.
Providing tools and resources.
Agile teams can largely benefit from using tools and software programs in planning their sprints. For determining team capacity, for instance, you can use capacity bars to quickly see who is over or under capacity. Meanwhile, a velocity chart is a useful tool to gain insight into how much work your team can complete during a sprint whereas a forecast tool estimates work that can be accomplished in future sprints.
Towards the end of the sprint, allocate time for a little retrospective. Feedback is important to determine opportunities for improving processes in the next sprints. You can start by asking your team members what went well, what could have been done better, or what could use some adjustment. For one-week sprints, the review meeting should take about one hour. So for a four-week sprints, allocate four hours. Another important aspect of the scrum sprint review is to assess the project against the sprint goal.
Scrum sprint is vital to the completion of a successful software or product development. Think of a sprint as a piece of a puzzle. You can’t create a clear picture without taking each sprint. And for it to be successful, intensive planning and preparation are necessary. Hopefully, by implementing these best practices, you can scale your agile team and obtain the results you want in less time and with minimum chances of error.
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