The important ceremony in Agile Scrum is “Sprint Planning Meeting”, this is the only detailed team meeting in agile methodology, where team go through the backlog to pick the items to be work on for their coming sprint.
How well this meeting is conducted can also define the success and failure of the sprint although. In agile methodology, it’s no guarantee that a successful and good sprint planning meeting would deliver the best sprint results, but it’s most likely.
As the names describe “Sprint Planning” in agile methodology, is the starting point where team member warm up and stretches their muscles and mingle in head to head in a technical discussion to get sweated. But remember that team member should “leave the ego at the door”, engaged in “open communication” so that everyone knows honest feedback is encouraged.
What is a sprint planning meeting in Agile Methodology
Sprint planning is where a team (QA and Development) is locked in a room for almost more or less 2-4 hours or more to go through the backlog from the top of the stack till their capacity run out.
Here is a summary what’s going on during
What does the product owner do during a sprint planning meeting
- Product owner go on each of the user story, define its scope.
- Explain the team what to be done.
- Team asked question to verify their understaing and concepts.
- Once userstory is udnerstood, team start to the effort estimation, which mean estimating how long it will take to complete.
- Some team use “planning poker” to spark the discussion, but its optional.
- Team members can choose story points or hours to estimate the story (though story points are recommended).
- Task breakdown is done separate out of sprint planning to better utilize the Product Owner and other team members.
Sprint Planning Meeting Best Practices in Agile Methodology
Here are some of the best practices for agile sprint planning meeting in agile methodology
- Create a recursive calendar invitation include all team members including development and QA.
- Meeting invitation for agile sprint planning should be from the Product Owner.
- Include agenda in the invitation, add the user stories link which should be included in the sprint
- Always included more User stories to be included in the sprint then the team’ capacity. What it mean is go with the bigger chunk of backlog, as it might be possible that some of the user stories you might thing is ready for implementation is rejected by the team. So in that case, you will alway have extra user stories to be included in the sprint.
- Make sure the User story you are proposing from the sprint should be really defined well, all the use cases, functional requirements and condition of satisfaction are in detailed level and, at least, grooming once with some senior team members.
- Order a tea/Coffea with something sweet, sometimes a coffee bribe does work or, at least, it keep the developers or QA not to fell a sleep.
Sprint Planning Meeting Rules In Agile Methodology
- All team member product owner and scrum master need to be present
- Understand the chick and pig rule in the scrum team.
- Remember the sprint planning meeting is run by scrum master and he has the highest authority.
- PO owner role in sprint planning meeting is only as a contributor, (s)he make active contributor in answering the question if the team have and explaining the user stories to the team.
- Scrum master is the timekeeper, leader, facilitator, and coordinator of the agile sprint planning meeting
Scrum Sprint Planning Checklist In Agile Methodology
Practical checklist for sprint planning
- Define sprint scope
- Define each user story items in detail
- Prepare notes or include them in the agenda the thing concern, the question for a particular user story so the team can come prepare and have those answers before the before.
- Make sure backlog is in priority order
- Describe definition of done for each user story and for sprint
Practicalities are taken care of, since scrum master is the facilitator, make sure that all the merchandising are available for the meeting
- Making sure video, audio conference is reserved and working
- Pre-order coffee and light refreshment, “no coffee no code”
- Enough post-it notes and markers, whiteboard etc.
- Available capacity for the team (team members holidays, public holidays, etc)
- Keep tracking the teams’ velocity vs the amount of work committed by the team
- Ask questions to clear any ambiguity or else “speak now or hold your … “
- Do not commit more than you can not deliver
- Remember to think of your personal availability for the coming sprint.
- Taking part in technical discussion during estimation or planning poker
Scrum Sprint Planning Meeting Agenda In Agile Methodology
Share the sprint agenda with the team. Make sure to write an individual agenda for each of the sprint, it should be included in the email invitation which you send to the team.
Here is a short checklist for sprint planning agenda
Define sprint goal
it’s good to user real customer name and it will help to include the real email or chat conversation, so it really helps if team read those
Describe user stories
put the title of the user story, or if you are using any tool mentioned the user story IDs.
Decide the cut off point
Mention how many user story you want team to include in the sprint, let’s say first 10 or 15
Scrum Sprint Planning Meeting Length in Agile Methodology
What would be duration of sprint planning meeting if the sprint is of 1-4 weeks of length ?
The rule of thumb is one hour of sprint planning for every week of sprint length. So four weeks of sprint would have four hours of sprint planning. But it’s not recommended to do it one session.
If you do your backlog refinement and estimates outside sprint planning, you can minimize the final or official sprint planning meeting by 1–2 hours.
Product owner not available for the sprint planning meeting
If the product owner not available for the sprint planning for whatever reason, it’s good to still conduct the meeting, scrum master or any other team member who have the best domain knowledge or anyone Product Owner as (s)he backup should explain the user stories.
How to run an agile sprint planning meeting
Normally two hours should be maximum for sprint planning(even though some suggested that it should bt 4 hours, but after 2 hours in the meeting, whatever you do it not productive).
- If you can not define all the user stories withing two hours, then it is most likely that your user stories are too ambiguous or unknown, then let the scrum follow its natural flow and let requirement emerge and elaborated more.
- Sprint planning meeting should be used as a pull mechanism for the team. Which empowering your team to decide how they deliver the work is a core practice. In developing great scrum teams, even if they fail .. allowing them a “safe” space to fail and learn from it is your job as a Product Owner and Scrum Master.
- Give a chance your team to negotiate which tasks or functions are true “must have”. Trust listen and trust their judgment also. Scrum team should engage with product owner so business values and prioritization can be discussed before the team can finally commit to the user stories.
Agile Sprint Planning Metting In A Nutshell
Make it Visible
Inspect it Daily
Agile Sprint Planning Best Practices
To have perfect Sprint planning divide the planning into two parts.
First part sprint commitment, where the team decides which of the Backlog Items from the Product Backlog they ‘pull’ into the Sprint.
Second part the team breaks these Backlog Items into tasks, the so-called Task Breakdown, product owner doesn’t need to be present there, the scrum master is optional, the team can independently divide the task. Scrum master just need to glance through that all the user story is divided in enough granularity
It is good to practice the shorter sprint cycle to keep the sprint meeting short, shorter sprints are easier to plan, as the bigger the payload is difficult to analyze and plan. For example, for a two-week Sprint, a lot less needs to be discussed and fewer tasks will need to be identified. The side benefit will be you will have more chances to inspect the product (in Sprint Review) and inspect the process (in the Retrospective).
Backolog Grooming Meeting in Agile Methodology
To run sprint planning meeting affectively
Another way to reduce the duration is to hold regular backlog refinement or grooming meetings. This will ensure the team has a shared understanding of the most important Product Backlog Items. If the grooming meeting is done regularly, this will reduce the burden from the sprint planning session. So in sprint planning session, team only needs to decide how many of these Product Backlog items they pull into the Sprint.
Sprint planning meeting Other techniques
Longer sprint planning meeting is something which frustrates the team, this is something which SM should avoid.
- Two hours per week is good, but if the team still think that its way too long then it should be reduced to the desired time from the team.
- Dividing it into the pre-grooming meeting is a good idea or having multiple short meeting with the smaller group of team members, strictly inviting the people really needed in the meeting.
- Timebox style, allocating maximum 3–5 min per User story, have a stopwatch handy to calculate time, if discussion goes out of 5 min, then stop discussing it further move on to another user story
- Putting time budget per user story helped a lot and team give full energy to provide valuable input because of time pressure and unnecessary input/discussion left outside the meeting room
- This also put pressure on Product owner, that (s)he enters the room with very defined user stories, and he should know the answer to all the question that developer would have asked. Which mean that (s)he put himself in the role of a user to find those question and have those answers ready.