While the concept of Sprint Planning is relatively simple, many ScrumMasters (facilitate the meeting) and Product Owners (clarify requirements) fail to prepare and execute Sprint Planning correctly. With that in mind, here are some DOs and DONTs that will hopefully help you fine tune your Sprint Planning.
Sprint Planning DOs:
- Before the meeting groom and prepare (Product Owner) the product backlog – identify items with the highest value
- Always Time-box the meeting (4-8 hrs depending on your Sprint duration)
- Reiterate highest priority items and features
- Discuss team velocity and capacity
- Set a Sprint Goal (a short description of what the team will achieve/deliver at the end of the Sprint)
- Break large Stories into smaller ones so they can be completed within a Sprint
- Prioritize Stories
- Spread the Risk across multiple Sprints (i.e. don’t add too many high-risk Stories in any one of your Sprints)
- Revisit and revalidate your DoD (definition of done)
- Everyone on the team has to agree to complete the items in the Sprint backlog
Sprint Planning DONTs:
- Ignore team velocity (from previous Sprints).
- Include backlog items that are too large to complete in a Sprint
- Commit to a fuzzy Sprint Backlog.
- Ignore team capacity (e.g. vacations, public holidays, etc.)
- Invite too many external stakeholders in your Sprint Planning Meeting
- Spread the Sprint Planning meeting across multiple days
- Have Management or Product Owner drive the timeline and velocity (e.g. “We only have two Sprints left, so we have to complete all the remaining Stories”). Team velocity and the team itself should drive the timeline.
When done incorrectly Spring Planning can create confusion and demotivate the team. However, when planned and executed correctly it is a powerful tool to get everyone rowing in the same direction.