Introduction to Agile Sprint Planning
Agile Sprint planning involves a ScrumMaster who facilitates the meeting, a product owner who clarifies product backlog details and their acceptance criteria and the whole Agile team, which defines the work and effort required to achieve its sprint commitments. Agile is itself an umbrella term for various project development methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban or any hybrid method. The tenacity of Agile methodology is to deliver the product on time and on a budget as well as instigating flexible approaches for adopting any unavoidable change. Scrum is a widely used methodology in software development which is a framework for effective team collaboration to analyze complicated problems that ensure to deliver the product with the highest possible value. In Scrum, Sprint is a specific period of time within which all the pre-assigned tasks and reviews should be completed. Every Sprint starts with effective planning, which has a significant role before initiation.
What is Sprint Planning?
In the Scrum framework, a Sprint planning meeting is the beginning point of any sprint where the team members come together to plan and determine the product backlog items to do work during the sprint and prepare an initial plan of completing activities and its’ delivery time.
Who Attends the Sprint Planning Meeting?
Sprint planning meeting involves the entire team. Yet three key members are important in planning and implementing of Scrum process.
The Product Owner
The product owner must prepare all the items related to the backlog before the meeting. He or she has to be a source for clarifying all significant features and giving satisfying answers to all the questions around the use case or acceptance criteria asked by the team members. Before appearing in the meeting, proper guidelines are essential for preparation because the product owner needs not to describe every item tracked on the product backlog.
The Team Members
The team members chalk a plan regarding how many product backlog items they will be able to deliver within the time frame and what process they will follow. Designers, developers, test engineers – all the team members must participate actively for solid understanding so that they can assess the expectation level for working on the product and the priority areas to prepare for the next sprint.
The Scrum Master
The role of a Scrum Master is as a coach who facilitates the sprint planning meeting in order to ensure its effectiveness. To ascertain mutual agreement among team members and include product backlog with sprint backlog are the primary responsibilities of the Scrum Master.
The Groundwork for the Meeting
Before presuming an agile sprint planning meeting, it is suggested to follow certain disciplines. Preparation is itself an important part, and the product owner must give special attention to it before the meeting is being started.
- Without backlog preparation, the meeting will be time-consuming and less effective. The product owner gives priority to organize the backlog items, documentation of test cases, identification of dependence areas and listing of test cases. It means that the product owner has to assure about getting prepared for all the items related to the backlog.
- The user stories which will represent in the sprint planning meeting should be in the right size, not so big or too small.
- The product owner has to take special initiative for the presence of every member. That is why it is suggested to take a look at the calendar and ensure everyone’s availability.
- Measure the average work and establish it as a benchmark to get an estimated idea that how much work has been completed in each sprint.
- It is recommended to create an agenda and circulate it among team members.
The length of each Agile sprint planning meeting ranges between 1 and 4 weeks. The team organizes planning meetings at the beginning of each sprint to break down each of the features scheduled for the sprint into technical tasks. Generally, the sprint planning meeting holds for 2-4 hours, but taking more time means spending time on unnecessary things.
Structure of the Sprint Planning Meeting
The entire Agile sprint planning meeting can be typically fragmented into two parts –
The first part of the sprint planning meeting is focused on the review of product backlog items. During this part of the meeting, the team members engage with product owners in discussion to clear away their ambiguity related to product backlog items. At the end of the first part of sprint planning, the team members set a goal of sprint and forecast an estimated time for delivering the task.
In the second part of the Agile sprint planning meeting, the team forecasts how the product backlog items will be built. The team members break down the product backlog items into certain tasks and assessing these in hours. There are certain other matters which are also required to consider during this meeting. These are –
- Any new information or update collected from stakeholders or customers which may impact on sprint planning will be considered during this meeting.
- It is essential to discuss the team’s capacity or any vacation to get a clear idea about how much dedication is needed.
- The team reviews each item and distributes the task among the members.
- If any new issues or concerns, or dependencies may arise during the discussion, it is advised to record those assumptions for a future action plan.
- Once the sprint backlog has been identified, the Scrum Master will ask for team members consent on the plan.
- When the team members and product owner agree on the plan to accomplish the goal, the work on the sprint backlog will be taking place. The outputs of the sprint planning meetings will be sprint backlog and determining spring goal.
The important Agile benefit of the sprint planning meeting is that it ensures the beginning of newsprint with initial planning and mutual understanding. Apart from it, sprint meeting enhances collaboration and team-building spirit which helps to propagate common acceptance about the product. There are other benefits which have been described below-
- It promotes just in time planning method, which helps to define two major things – sprint goal and sprint backlog.
- It gives a sense of empowerment to the team members who can control their own flow of work.
- There is a measuring scale in Scrum, which helps to get a probable idea about how much work can be completed within the sprint, which is called velocity. Velocity is a key metric in terms of measuring the amount of work that will be tackled during the sprint.
A sprint planning meeting will be considered effective if proper work out along with representation has been done and the team appears with a ready-to spirit approach for tackling the task of the sprint.
This has been a guide to Agile Sprint Planning. Here we have discussed the Concept, Groundwork, Structure, And Benefits of the Agile Sprint Planning Meeting. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –