Agile methodology involves several different “ceremonies” or sessions that help facilitate work to be done. One of those ceremonies is sprint planning.
What is sprint planning?
Sprint planning is a time-boxed agile ceremony where the agile team determines what can be delivered by the end of the upcoming sprint, as well as how the work will be done.
During this time, the product owner sets expectations as to what they want to see built by the end of the sprint, and the agile team is able to ask questions and discuss anything related to the work forecasted. By understanding what will be done, and how it will be done, the entire team is able to align on the overall goal of the upcoming sprint.
Preparing for sprint planning
There are some things that must be done before the meeting can happen. Without properly preparing for the planning ceremony, you may waste valuable time of the entire team.
Items considered candidates for a sprint must be ready for work. This typically involves work from the product owner to ensure all the right pieces are in place for success.
To prepare for the planning session, the product owner should assign relative story point values to sprint candidates, remove any dependancies or roadblocks, and define the acceptance criteria. Planning poker is a useful exercise that can be done ahead of time in order to help ensure accurate estimates. All sprint candidate items should have the necessary documentation to support their work.
How is sprint planning done?
Sprint planning should involve a Scrum Master, the product owner, and the entire development/design team involved in the sprint.
It should be done earlier in the week so the team’s work flow and momentum is not disrupted by the weekend. The planning meeting should be limited in time; typically one hour for every week of the sprint. So, a 1 week sprint should include a planning meeting no longer than 1 hour.
During sprint planning, work is selected from the product backlog and pulled into the sprint backlog. Worked pulled into the sprint is work the team agrees to complete during the upcoming sprint.
Once the work is defined, the team then discusses how the work will be done. This part of planning typically involves the development team discussing different strategies for meeting the goals of the sprint.
Sprint planning is an agile ceremony that helps the team focus on exactly the work they are going to execute. It helps reduce surprises and get the entire team on the same page so that they’re able to work productively towards the same goal. When done right, prepare for, and conducting sprint planning sessions can lead to higher quality code and a better product.