Sep 1st, 2022

Best Tips for Effective Facilitation of Sprint Planning

Naveen Kumar Singh
Naveen Kumar Singh

Naveen is a professional agile coach and has been working independently for a long time in the Asia... Read more

In the scrum framework, sprint planning sets the pillar for the successful execution of the agile project. Therefore, when our team organizes the sprint planning ideally helps to establish a real sprint goal. However, sprint planning can sometimes be confusing for the entire scrum team. This leads them to a lot of hassle during sprint planning. As a result, we waste time on unnecessary tasks that won't give us the expected result during product delivery.

But relax! We'll give you some proven and tested tips for effectively facilitating sprint planning. Also, we'll share a brief review of the dos and don'ts of sprint planning. So, what's the wait? Let's get started.

What is Sprint Planning?

Sprint planning is one of the most important events among the five scrum events. Sprint planning happens at the beginning of the sprint, where the entire scrum team defines the sprint goal and determines the sprint backlog. Generally, sprint planning is time-boxed to eight hours for a one-month sprint. If the sprints are set for a short time, then the sprint planning event is shorter.

A successful sprint planning event includes two vital elements: sprint goal and backlog. The main objective of sprint planning is to define the backlog and set expectations for the next sprint. Successful sprint planning needs collaboration from several people. The key members of sprint planning are:

  1. The scrum master: The scrum master organizes and coordinates the whole sprint planning. A scrum master must ensure the team members are prepared, that the meeting room is booked, and the calendar is blocked. In short, the scrum master will manage everything accurately to meet the sprint goal on time.
  2. The product owner: The product owner will ensure all the backlog items are well-prepared before the planning. They are also responsible for explaining each item to the team and answering questions related to the backlog. Overall, the product owner's key goal is to help the scrum team achieve their sprint goal effortlessly.
  3. The Developers: The product developers (designers, engineers, developers) are responsible for completing all the work in the sprint planning.
The most crucial benefit of sprint planning is the scrum team clarifies the sprint goal to work on it appropriately. Also, sprint planning helps to build understanding and collaborative opportunities among the team members.

Five Best Tips for Effective Facilitation of sprint Planning

For a perfect sprint planning meeting, all we need is some time, based on our team's ability and the project's complexity. Also, We will need a large meeting room, a visual workspace, colorful sticky notes, and a cup of coffee to keep the meeting energetic!

How about online sprint planning? We need collaboration tools like Mural, Miro, or Jamboard with online meeting tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or WebEx. Please ensure the breakout rooms feature is working, and we still have a cup of coffee! Now you may think that organizing sprint planning sessions is a cakewalk. But the fact is, running a successful sprint planning needs discipline and a bit of preparation. And to help us run a well-prepared sprint planning section, we've listed five excellent tips.

So without further ado, let's dig in.

1st - Start By Setting the Goal

This point may sound obvious to you, but setting a sprint goal is crucial for sprint planning. Work with your product owner and team members to devise a goal together (Hey, Scrum Master also contributes). This goal will help our whole team understand what they're working on and why it is crucial.

2nd - Always Prepare Your Backlog

Several scrum teams often ignore preparing backlogs before a sprint planning session. Or the team may show up with undefined backlog tickets. So, a product owner's responsibility is to ensure the product backlog is prepared before the sprint planning. Regular backlog refinement is an efficient way to ensure the product backlog is prepared before the sprint planning.

3rd - Check Roadmaps Before the Planning

Don't forget to review your product roadmap during sprint planning. Scrum team members often fail to share or review the roadmap and get busy with other tasks. The roadmap helps to create the context of epics and versions, which helps to keep track of the large ideas in your backlog without overpopulating it with multiple items.

4th - Organize an Informal Sprint Planning First

Before we start with the proper sprint planning meeting, organize an informal session. In this informal meeting, we can discuss the expectations for the upcoming sprints and the stories our organization requires to deliver. This pre-meeting will allow us to check all the bottlenecks and ensure effective facilitation of sprint planning. Much better if teams meet continuously, especially when there is high ambiguity in the requirements.

5th - Make Sure to Have an Agenda

A proper agenda is helpful for the scrum team to complete all the relevant sprint planning topics. Though every team has its own way of working, these are some common points you must include in your sprint planning agenda:

  •   The product owner will present the roadmap.
  •   The scrum team and product owner will discuss the backlog items.
  •   The whole scrum team will measure the team's capacity and velocity.
  •   The team will come up with a clear sprint goal.
  •   They will start discussing or planning together.

Recommended Reading- Sprint Planning in Distributed Scrum Team

Dos of Sprint Planning:

So here are some ways you can try for effective facilitation of sprint planning. And, to get more clarity, it's time to review some of the dos of sprint planning.

  • The product owner has to trust the scrum team and maintain a motivational work environment.
  • Before starting the sprint planning, identify high-value items and refine the product backlog.
  •  It is always wise to check for team capacity and velocity during sprint planning.
  • The whole scrum team should time-box their planning based on their sprint duration.
  • To complete every feature on time, break the feature into smaller stories.
  • Don't ignore your team's current and previous velocity.
  •  You may think it's unnecessary to allow changes during sprint planning. But this will waste more time, so make sure your team allows changes during the planning.
  • Never delay working on your product or project because of the fear of failure.
  • Don't forget to refer to the definition of done within your scrum team, as the DOD( Definition of Done) reflects the team's understanding and helps them learn more about technology and product skill. Also, ensure the "definition of done" includes bug fixes as it will help deliver better quality products or projects at the end of sprints.
  • Never use the word "assign" in your scrum team. The product owner will never assign any task to the scrum team. They will look for opportunities to see how to complete stories within the sprint by working together.

Wrapping Up

There are loads of mistakes you can conduct during sprint planning. And it's okay to make mistakes. But the good news is that now you have these tips and tricks to avoid any bottleneck during the planning. If you follow these tips, your scrum team will have a clear sprint goal and a better plan at the end of every sprint planning.

Naveen Kumar Singh

Naveen is a professional agile coach and has been working independently for a long time in the Asia Pacific. He works with the software development team and product team to develop awesome products based on empirical processes.

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