7 Best Strategies of Sprint Planning for Successful Project Management

Project team members may feel like they are making no progress after working on long projects for days or weeks. If you break your project plan into sprints, you allow team members to focus on individual goals and celebrate success as it occurs.

/sprint-planning-in-project-management

In project management, there are many ways to get a project done. Methodologies range from Waterfall to Agile. The agile framework is highly favoured because of its iterations, dependency on customer input, team collaboration, and the growth teams experience.

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." – Albert Einstein

Scrum—an agile framework—is widespread in teams that handle software development because it can be applied to all teams. Scrum outlines a system of roles, events, and rules to organize and manage their work. Sprints are a critical part of Scrum.

What are Sprints?

Sprint is a part of the Scrum framework. In Scrum, large projects are broken down into a series of iterations of smaller manageable bits that teams can handle. These iterations are called sprints.

A Sprint is a time-boxed period during which a Scrum team must complete an amount of work. Sprints are pivotal to the Scrum framework, and companies can help teams produce high-quality software faster and more frequently if they get them right. Furthermore, when teams work in Sprints, they enjoy more flexibility and become more adaptable.

“Unlike in sport, scrum encourages you to be always sprinting so you can deliver working software while continuously learning and improving.” - as per Atlassian

Sprints are aligned to the principles laid out in the Agile Manifesto; the core values of transparency, adaptation central to the idea of Sprints are complementary to the agile methodology.

What is Sprint Planning

At the start of Sprints, there must be a special meeting called the Sprint Planning. Sprint Planning kickstarts the Sprint by outlaying the work to be performed by the Sprint. The resulting plan is put together by the collaborative work of the entire Scrum team. Sprint Planning is an event that defines what can be delivered in the upcoming Sprint and how their work can be achieved. It kicks off the Sprint.

The Scrum Team primarily attends the Sprint Planning to discuss the current items and map out a structure to achieve the product goal.

Why is Sprint Planning Important?

The Sprint Planning meeting is put together to address several topics, which include:

  • The What: the product owner highlights the objective of the Sprint and what would contribute to that amidst the backlog items. The Scrum Team then joins forces to define a Sprint Goal that communicates why this Sprint is valuable to the product owner or stakeholders. The team selected items from the Product Backlog to include in the current Sprint. This is quite important as it helps Developers know their past performance, the upcoming capacity, the Definition of Done, and how the Done relates to the new Sprint, enabling them to be more confident in making Sprint forecasts.

  • The How: the Scrum Team develops a plan to determine how the Sprint Goal will be achieved. The Sprint plan is a product of a negotiation between the team and the product owner based on value and effort. Each Product Backlog item is examined, and the work necessary to create an Increment to the Definition of Done is highlighted.

  • The Who: Here, the product owner redefines the goal and defines the services of the team needed to achieve the next Sprint.

Best Strategies of Sprint Planning for Successful Project Management

Since we have discussed what Sprint planning is and its importance in project management, it is time we discussed the strategies to get the best result.

1. Highlight Roadmaps

The goal of the agile methodology is to help the team ship better software. This requires a lot of work, and the team can quickly lose focus if the roadmap is not clearly stated. A clearly defined roadmap helps the team actively know that they are doing the right thing.

It is the responsibility of the product owner or customer to keep the end product consistently because of the team. Before the group meets for Sprint Planning, you need to define the product roadmap and answer serious questions.

"There are always too many features that would add value, therefore creating a lack of focus on the vision and goals. By focusing on the features too much, the roadmap will turn into an overloaded product backlog, instead of a high-level, strategic plan for the products' future development" – Robbin Schuurman

There is no defined template on a product roadmap, but it should simply remind us of the long-term vision before being swept away in the commotions of codes and fixes. With a predefined roadmap, you can see how Sprints are not meant to only tick boxes but how each Sprint brings you closer to the vision of your software.

2. Groom Your Product Backlog

A product backlog is defined as a list of work derived from the project roadmap and requirements. The product backlog is for the development team and written so that the most important items are shown at the top to know what to deliver first. The product backlog contains all the bugs, issues, and user stories.

The focus on the product can be so enticing that the product backlog is neglected. The best practice is to focus on your product backlog and getting it primed for your team. It is recommended that your product backlog should tackle the next two sprints. Why? Having a product backlog covering two Sprints gives you an idea of what the project is building towards. It also gives you an idea of how your immediate action will impact your next Sprint.

As earlier stated, Sprints are time-boxed, so you need to manage your teams' time effectively. Before each Sprint Planning, you should have to groom your product backlog. This should be done before the meeting, so you do not waste your team's time finetuning small details or seeking clarifications.

3. Define When a Task is Done

The struggle most Scrum team faces is estimating how much time a user story will take to implement. This is because they do not know when a story can be moved to Done. It would be best if you made it clear to every member of the team when a story can be considered Done. You can use bullets like the story has been completed, all acceptance is passed, etc.

What your checklist contains doesn't matter since everyone knows exactly what these items are. You can mark a story as done when it has started to give value to the company.

4. Make the Sprint Planning Interactive

The first step in Sprint Planning is getting the team on board and making them own the project. The product owner must make every team member feel like a part of the production process. Every team member should be responsible for the project, which means that the developers should not be the only ones to execute the task. Each team member should understand how the user stories will help the organization achieve its goals.

Making the Sprint Planning interactive will be accessible once the team members are actively part of the project. This will be very beneficial to create a cohesive bond among team members and quickly bring team members who haven't used Scrum before up to speed. An interactive Sprint meeting will easily allow for easy implementation of the user story. Best project planning tools like Projectsly from 500apps help in creating the best interactive sprint planning.

5. Incorporate Feedback and Insights

Feedbacks are pretty crucial for the success of the next Sprint. Therefore, they must be incorporated into the Sprint Planning. Feedbacks can be from the shareholders, customers, or the team. The customer shares feedback intermittently as the project progresses based on their needs and how the product fits in. After each Sprint, share updates with the stakeholder and the customer and adjust per their feedback.

Furthermore, it would help if you incorporated the Sprint retrospectives insights into the Sprint Planning. The Sprint retrospectives are critical to the agile process; it is time the team can discuss and highlight ways they can improve. The product of the previous Sprints is considered, and the team looks for new ways to improve. The completion of each Sprint comes with new lessons that can be learned; the team takes these lessons and turn them into actionable improvements.'

Questions asked in the insights include how did the last Sprint go? Was each team member satisfied? Was changes would make the next Sprint better? These and many others are questions you should ask to make your next Sprint better than the next.

6. Use Estimates to Define What Success Looks Like Based on Team Capacity

Sprints are time-boxed; therefore, you must set goals in line with the team's capability. It is detrimental to overload your team or any individual beyond the capacity of what they can do. More mistakes would happen, and your team morale will diminish.

To get the best out of your Sprint Planning, you should set clearly defined goals, objectives, and metrics. However, this needs to be done by evaluating what goals will remain consistently within the team's reach. Use agile estimation techniques and story points to understand the workload and capacity of the group.

Despite using detailed Sprint planning with Scrum methodology, many projects fail because the goals are not realistic and inestimable. Since the team is confined to complete a part of the project within a set time, the project produces poor quality results. Also, within a definition for success, the developers tend to become lax, and the project drags on. Therefore, it is critical to balance the definition of success for each Sprint and how much the team can do.

7. Don't Rush to Finish the Sprint Plan Meeting

Sprint Planning is essential, and it represents a crucial part of Scrum; if you are going to be impatient in meetings, I will recommend you use another methodology. The success of Scrum hinges on analyzing and finetuning the slightest bit of data. Hence, in Sprint Planning, take your time and do the meeting correctly. If your team gets bored, take a break, or you can choose to split the session into parts. In all, get all that needs to be done. Set a timeframe and stay within the timeframe.

At the end of your Sprint Planning, you have a list of user stories that will be implemented, tasks and each developer's role, and the exact estimation for each user story. If that hasn't been achieved yet, your meeting is not done; take a break and get back at it.

Conclusion

Sprint planning is a crucial process in Scrum methodology. It helps you to analyze the previous Sprints and gives indications of how future sprints will be. The success of your project depends on how effective your Sprint planning is, as it also allows your team to be mentally prepared for the next Sprint of the project.

Projectsly is software that will help you make the most of your Sprint Planning, using story points that will help your team make decisions and account for capacity while your customers are top of their minds.

Get started with Projectsly now

ribbon-five

ALL-IN-ONE Suite of apps to enhance your team's productivity

Get started with 500apps today

Projectsly is a part of 500apps Infinity Suite

Please enter valid email id