If there’s any question that has been debated more than anything else other than “What’s the ideal sprint length? '' then it is “Should it be long or short?”
There's a consensus that short sprints work better since agile teams all over the world prefer them.
For every question, there are a million follow-up questions, and that can put you in a confused state of mind.
Today, we’ve written this blog post to answer your questions and clear the doubts you're bursting with.
But before we go ahead, let’s do a quick recap of Scrum events.
1. Sprint Planning: The team reviews the backlog and determines the list of requirements that will be marked as a priority in the forthcoming sprint. Sprint Planning addresses three important aspects; Why is this Sprint valuable? What can be done this Sprint?, and How will the chosen work get done?
2. Sprint: Sprints are fixed lengths lasting one month or less. All things essential to achieve the product goal consist of sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospectives taking place during sprints.
While the sprint is in progress, special care is taken to not make changes that would compromise the sprint goal and retain the quality. The Product Backlog is refined as needed and the scope is clarified and revised with the Product Owner as needed.
3. Daily Scrum: Daily Scrum is a 15-minute standup meeting facilitated by the Scrum Master, where all developers of the Scrum Team gather to inspect the progress toward the sprint goal and adapt to the sprint backlog adjusting to the upcoming sprints accordingly.
The Daily Scrum is held at the same place and time on the same day as the sprint. If the Scrum Master and Product Owner are actively working on the backlog items, they become developers.
Daily Scrums are effective in improving communications, identifying bottlenecks, paving quick decision-making, and eliminating the need for unnecessary meetings.
4. Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective: Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective are two concluding events of the sprint.
5. Sprint Review: The motive of Sprint Review is to assess the outcome of the Sprint and ascertain future adaptations. The Scrum Team presents their work to the principal stakeholders and developments towards the sprint goal are discussed.
The Scrum Team and the chief stakeholders review the progress and evaluate the subsequent changes. This serves as the base to decide the next action steps.
A sprint review is a time-boxed event having a duration of four hours for a one-month sprint. The duration is shorter for short sprints.
6. Sprint Retrospective: The Sprint Retrospective is held with the motive of planning methods to improve quality and value.
The Scrum Team inspects the last sprint and its performance in terms of individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and their Definition of Done.
In Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team reviews the sprint and discusses what well and the problems encountered and what was solved, and things that are yet to be solved.
The Scrum Team makes changes to reflect improvements. The most valuable improvements are added to the Sprint Backlog for the next sprint.
The Sprint Retrospective concludes the sprint. It is a time-boxed event having a maximum limit of three hours for a one-month sprint. For sprints shorter than a month, the sprint retrospective is shorter.
You might be interested in reading: Difference Between Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective
The primary factor in choosing the right sprint length is mostly driven by the fact of what an appropriate stimulus-to-response cycle looks like.
Learn to decide the sprint length: Sign Up for the PSM Certification Training today
|Since short sprints are for 1-2 weeks, the problems can be identified sooner||Long sprints usually span 3 weeks to 1 month. This will highly likely lead to change in sprint goals|
|Fewer complications and chances of increasing costs are few||Complications and spiraling costs lead to unpredictability and uncertainty|
|Time to market is quicker||The odds of the sprint getting canceled are on the higher side|
|Uncertainty is lesser since problems and risks are solved faster||Uncertainty starts to build since problems and risks start to resolve slower than usual|
The incidence of scope creep, rising costs, and slower pace of sprint are higher in long sprints. Though short sprints seem taxing, the outcomes are often successful.
1. Short sprints ensure stability: Regular and continuous time-boxed delivery is the heart of the Scrum framework. This is why flexible sprints are forbidden. The main downside to having flexible sprints is the uncertainty of the schedule for team members. Short sprints enable team members to work at a sustainable pace. It allows shorter retrospectives and realistic tasks that can be completed on time.
2. Early Feedback: Short sprints reduce the entire feedback loop. The user stories or tasks are available for review in the concluding stages of the sprint. It helps to have more learning cycles (inspect and adapt events) and decreases the risk of cost and development effort to a smaller time frame.
Longer sprints may result in unnecessary complexity, and changes in market conditions may lead your sprint goal to become invalid making the team deliver something which may no longer make sense to the business.
3. Client Participation: Short sprints keep the client in the loop about the product development cycle. They are closely involved in product backlog prioritization, requirement gathering, and reviews.
4. Monitoring velocity is easier: Velocity is an important agile metric. It refers to the amount of work completed towards the end of the sprint. Shorter sprints enable a better definition of done and keep the velocity balanced. When the sprint length is long, complexity related to work may arise which may in turn raise the risk and affect your velocity.
5. Sprint planning is easy: Shorter sprints mean fewer user stories to complete compared to longer sprints and teams can exchange feedback with customers quickly. Long sprints can be daunting because they require frequent follow-up meetings, prioritization, defining acceptance criteria, and brainstorming. This leads to too many user stories and umpteen meetings.
6. Balances Scope creep: Short sprints eliminate the practice of adding new user requirements when the sprint is in progress. The customer might change their mind by looking at competitors or the market.
Shorter sprints mean more sprint reviews. This provides the Product Owner with knowledge of the sprint progress.