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Sprint planning meeting explanation

Sprint planning meeting explanation

IT teams following the Agile framework called Scrum work in cycles called Sprints. These cycles make complex management projects more accessible and last from one to four weeks. The most usable cycle length is two weeks. Sprint planning is the process of creating a work foundation. As long as one project contains multiple sprints, a Sprint planning meeting is a meeting that occurs at the beginning of each Sprint. The Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developers meet and develop strategies for the next Sprint and what steps to achieve goals. Generally, Scrum has four stages: Planning, Daily Scrum, Review, and Retroactive.

What is sprint planning in a management project?

Sprint planning is the meeting of the Scrum team to set goals for the next Sprint, which products to execute first, and how to do that effectively. Scrum master plans the entire session — place, time, duration (depending on duration) and presents the meeting agenda to the participants ahead. Planning meetings include Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Developers.

Who is the Scrum Master?

The Scrum Master is responsible for the meeting planning, booking rooms, preparing participants, equipment, and organizing video conferences if needed. They schedule the meeting according to the sprint length to ensure complete alignment on the goal before the meeting starts.

Who is the Product Owner?

The Product Owner prepares product backlog items and is a resource for the developers when questions on use cases or acceptance criteria arise. The Product Owner ensures preparations of the Backlog. This meeting is the most important for the Product Owner, and he must spend a lot of time on preparation.

Who is the development team?

The designers, developers, and QAs should actively participate in the planning meeting to properly understand the expectations to work during the next Sprint and prioritize tasks.

Why are Sprint planning meetings necessary?

Planning meetings present an excellent chance to collect all participants and discuss the responsibilities of each member for the next period. Sessions allow developers to identify responsibilities and help them feel more comfortable while working together.

Sprint planning meeting explanation

Primary sprint planning benefits

Working in sprints provide:

  1. Dividing the big project into small tasks helps to solve ongoing issues. The Scrum project sprint ends only when the final specifications meet the accepted “definition of done.” Developers have nothing to worry about.
  2. Working in Sprint reduces the costs of the whole project by minimizing the risks of making mistakes or needs changes. Team members can accommodate any changes in the upcoming period, and previous tasks will not be affected.
  3. Working in estimated time periods provides more transparency. People share the same vision of final goals and reduce the possibility of the project going wrong.
  4. Agile methodology provides everybody with equal importance and respect. Being valued motivates people to perform better and align personal interests with the organization.
  5. Working in Sprint provides better product quality by reviewing all changes in time, and the product corresponds to requirements.
  6. Sprints in project management provide higher productivity and efficiency. They allow making improvements continuously, which affects productivity. Projects following the Agile approach are about 28 percent more successful than others.
  7. Agile methodology provides higher customer satisfaction by sharing thoughts regarding the product, allowing companies to cooperate with customers for a long time, and increasing business.
  8. Short sprints allow making changes according to the situation and the customer demands. Rapid business development requires flexibility, and reaching short-term goals helps to achieve that.
  9. Agile sprints encourage different people who do not interact under normal circumstances to collaborate effectively and feel comfortable. It helps to achieve high productivity and performance.
  10. A project team has multiple ways to track potential risk before it becomes a big problem. Members who participate in daily stand-ups are aware of difficulties other members face and know how to solve them in the future. Sprints allow having multiple feedback loops to identify potential problems and solve them.

Team Goals Definition

Planning meetings provide an understanding of exact goals and being successful.

Its goal is a short description of what the team should do. It is available to all members, so you can refer to it any time. The goal is a quick and easy statement for stakeholders to understand what the team is working on without understanding the Backlog. The goal helps to check if the past period was successful.

The backlog is a list of product backlog items to work on during the Sprint. It includes all information regarding tasks to deliver.

Ensuring consistency and support

The team will have collective goals to achieve and decide how much they can do during the next period by the end of the meeting. All members understand their importance and benefit from alignment with others by understanding how to coordinate the next Sprint.

Providing an understanding of sprint velocity

The meeting provides an understanding of how much work can be done. It is called sprint velocity, evaluated after the team has worked together for some time. People working together have high velocity as their members have adapted to work together. A velocity is a key number for the Product Owner to understand how much time developers need to fulfill the project. Velocity is calculated by summing the completed task and averaged numbers throughout several sprints.

The Sprint Planning Meeting Preparation

Preparation for a planning meeting is an essential part of the workflow. It includes specific steps to be done.

Refining product backlogs

The Product Owner refines Product backlogs and makes necessary adjustments before the meeting. This process is called Product Backlog Refinement. Generally, the Product Backlog is a to-do list of all required features in the project. The Product Owner should master the list before the planning meeting and list items by priority. The items on the top should be ready for working during the next Sprint. Developers should get all the items on the list to start work. The Product Owner should accept all criteria and involve other meeting members for insight. The members can clarify the Backlog during the Planning Meeting.

Checking team availability

Before the Planning meeting, Scrum Master should check the availability of all group members. In other words, the meeting organizer checks if there are holidays, vacations, or other events that can prevent members from participating in the meeting, affecting developers’ efficiency.

The group is responsible for estimating how much time it needs to fulfill work as they do not dedicate all working time to Sprint.

Creating and distributing the Meeting agenda

The Product Owner should present the initial goal and how it will affect Sprint. It is crucial because it explains how the team’s work is vital to achieve the primary goal.

The Product Owner should prepare acceptance requirements for all items in the Backlog, e.g., functionality features from the user’s point of view. The acceptance criteria should clarify all ambiguities in understanding items.

During the Planning Meeting, the developers should ask the Product Owner questions and provide their feedback. The planning meeting in Scrum is not giving orders, but it allows each member to be active in the planning and work process.

The Team, Owner, and Developers adjust the Backlogs regarding unidentified dependencies, fix too large items to the upcoming Sprint, etc. Members estimate story points assigned to items and show how much effort the item requirements need. This helps to evaluate the work.

Reviewing the team capacity

Capacity shows how much time your team can work on the project during the upcoming Sprint. It is calculated by taking members’ available hours and adding free time. After the meeting, developers will have a Goal, the Backlog, and the work plan.

Planning The Sprint Meeting

The first planning meeting with the new team slightly differs from the stable ones. There is no previous history to refer to. After some time, it will be easier to estimate the velocity.

Planning both experienced and new team meetings requires a checklist as it needs many things to think about and to do to prepare a successful Planning Meeting. Following general guidelines will help clarify goals and better understand meeting goals.

  • Prepare and check Product Backlog.
  • Seize the Product Backlog Items.
  • Check the developers’ speed and availability. Calculate capacity.
  • Refresh the definition of Done.
  • Prepare needed online tools.
  • Set a goal.
  • Include proper in the Backlog.
  • Create subtasks not exceeding a day to fulfill.
  • Check the duration of subtasks and group capabilities.
  • Compare the time of all subtasks with the developers’ productivity.
  • Synchronize the work and their confidence with the first-to-five method.

The Scrum Master schedules the meeting and sets time limits suitable for participants to participate in the discussion. The recommended time is four hours for a two weeks Sprint. If it takes less time, it is good. The group needs to ensure that all points are clear and participants feel confident after the meeting.

Summary

Implementing a planning strategy helps keep the essential things in mind, quickly adapt to changes without spending much effort, improve communication and raise the general product quality. During the preparation process, members clearly understand ongoing tasks. The whole planning process will get better with time.

Ivan Kolesnikov

About the author:

Ivan Kolesnikov

Experienced professional in programming.

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