Project Management

Using Capacity-based Sprint Planning

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

The Scrum Guide tells teams to plan sprints using a tool called velocity. Velocity is a backwards-looking metric that keeps track of how much work has been able to be completed in past sprints, and teams can use that metric to inform the planning of the current sprint. For instance, if a team has completed, on average, 18 points worth of stories over the past several sprints (usually it takes six or more sprints to determine a team’s velocity), it is safe to say that the team will be able to complete about 18 points worth in the current sprint. If taken to the extreme, sprint planning becomes a simple operation: take the top stories off the backlog until you reach the team’s velocity, add them to the sprint, and call it a day. While this may work some of the time, it doesn’t consider other important factors that may determine if a story can be completed or not, and thus, if the plan is reasonable.

There are several reasons why this often doesn’t work and doesn’t create a sprint that the team can successfully deliver. First, as mentioned, velocity is an average of several past sprints, but that value changes over time. If our hypothetical team has a velocity of 18, that could mean that they really completed as few as five or as many as thirty points, depending on a sprint. Second, while using math like this can help guide the team, planning …


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