Tips to improve your Sprint Planning meeting

How to measure the success of your Sprint Planning Meeting?

Scrum teams, learn what Sprint Planning Meeting elements are critical to delivering great products.

Sprint Planning is part of Scrum process together with sprint execution, review and retrospective.

What is Sprint Planning?

Every day, industries, communities, and technology become dynamic, leading to better experiences that are pleasant yet difficult at the same time. The easiest way to cope with such uncertainty is by the implementation of agile methodologies.

At the Sprint Planning, the job to be completed as scheduled. The joint effort of the entire Scrum team produces this plan.

The Scrum Master assures that the Sprint Planning runs smoothly and that its meaning is known. The Scrum Master instructs the Scrum squad on the steps to take to reach the Sprint Planning goals.

Sprint Planning In Software Development.

To help them keep pace with the rollout of new software versions, called sprints, software development teams rely on sprints. A development team must be particular about what it should work on during a sprint with conflicting criteria for implementing an update. For example, should such bug fixes take priority over rolling out new functionality or vice versa?

Who Participates In Sprint Planning?

The whole Scrum team usually attends. The team members plan how many user stories they can complete from the product backlog and how it can be delivered as a usable product. The product owner sets the correct sprint expectations, considering the lessons learned from the previous sprint review. The team then addresses the stories they’re going to discuss. The scrum master must ensure the debate is successful and that all members are mindful of the case's purpose. He/she is responsible for ensuring the meeting takes place within his / her timeframe.

Answers from Sprint Planning:

  • What is the goal the Scrum Team must accomplish?
  • How will the user stories from the next sprint be delivered?
  • What are the user stories that the Scrum team will deliver to achieve the Sprint Goal?
  • How much work does the Scrum Team can commit to implementing in the next increment(sprint)?

There are multiple ways to measure your sprint planning success:

#1 Sprint Planning meeting success:

  • The Sprint Planning Meeting has a clear plan and a limited duration.

For a one-month sprint, Sprint Planning is time-boxed to a limit of 8 hours. The event is typically shorter with shorter sprints. For Software Development Scrum Teams, the sprint length is two weeks, and the sprint planning is 2–4 hours. The Scrum Master is making sure the Scrum team uses the time-efficient.
Learn more about the Product Owner’s checklist for Sprint Planning.

  • The Scrum Team defines Sprint goals.

The sprint goals aim to guide the team in providing customer value and deliver useful functionalities. The Sprint Goals guide the team to prioritize the user stories, to adapt (be agile) during the sprint.

Learn more about How Sprint Goals help your Scrum Team deliver more customer value?

  • User stories

During the Sprint Planning, the Scrum Team defines the user stories they will implement to achieve the Sprint Goal. The Scrum Team estimates the user stories during the Product Backlog Refinement, and they are a prerequisite for the Sprint Planning Meeting.

Learn more about How to get started with Jira User Stories, How to Write User Stories that Deliver Value to the Customer.

  • Team capacity and velocity versus user stories sizes

If you as a Scrum Team can do only 1–2 user stories during your Sprint Planning Meeting, that is a sign of splitting the user stories. A successful Sprint Planning meeting implies adapting the user story sizes, so they are achievable during the sprint.

Learn more about how to How to Split User Stories.

#2 Sprint execution

Early in my career, I was measuring the success of a sprint planning meeting just by how the sprint planning meeting went. The reality is that you get to learn if you had an excellent Sprint Planning Meeting during the sprint. Here are the signs to look for:

  • Deviation from the sprint goal

When it comes to defining the Sprint Goal, I keep making sure it is set because while there could be new requirements, the sprint goals remain usually stable during the entire sprint. If we put a sprint goal during the planning meeting, we can compare the deviation in the sprint goal to understand where the change came from and what we can do better for the next sprint planning.

  • User stories added, removed, or changed during the sprint.

I’ve seen many straightforward sprint planning meetings, and 1–2 days later, the Scrum Team learns that they are more urgent matters to focus on. And in these circumstances, the Scrum Team starts implementing user stories that aren’t groomed, not estimated, and risk arriving at the end of the sprint without reaching the sprint goals and not knowing why. My recommendation in such situations is to keep the Sprint Planning shorter while working with the stakeholders to prepare a product backlog that will stay stable for the duration of the sprint.

Learn more about 13 Alternatives to Product Backlog Refinement meeting and Product Owner’s Checklist for Product Backlog Refinement

  • User Stories accepted by the Product Owner and that meet the Definition Of Done (DOD)

When the user stories meet the Definition Of Done, the Scrum Team understands the customer expectations and delivers business value. Completing user stories is a must to measure velocity and to become a predictable team.

Learn more about User Story Definition Of Done (DOD) in Agile Software Development and the Technical Debt.

#3 Sprint review meeting

Indeed, a successful Sprint Planning is seen at the end of the sprint when the Product Owner demonstrates the work completed.

  • Demonstrate the work completed

At the end of each sprint, the team or the product owner should demonstrate the completed work to the stakeholders to show progress and gather feedback on the new features. During the Sprint Planning, I try to define with my Scrum Teams how to demonstrate during the Sprint Review the work completed. It clarifies the Scrum Teams how they can show progress and what stakeholders expect from them. After introducing this working way, our Scrum Team started to receive more positive feedback from the top management and stakeholders.

  • PO approval or testing

Seeing a Product Owner standing together with the Scrum Team during a sprint review and sharing the stakeholders' achievements, it is a sign of successful Sprint Planning as the Goal was clear, user stories were explicit, and the Scrum Team respected its commitment.

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