Project Management

Get More from 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.

Almost every agile team holds a meeting, ceremony or some other event known as Sprint Planning. For most, it is exactly what the name implies: a meeting in which the next sprint (or the current sprint, depending on timing) is planned. Teams can sometimes take this too literally, though, and they reduce it down to the routine activities of choosing stories to add to the next iteration. The team looks at the backlog, makes sure the stories in it are properly prioritized and have costs (story points or otherwise) assigned, and then adds enough work to the current sprint to fill the available capacity.

Some teams have even taken this to an extreme—the act of planning can be done without a meeting or discussion; it is purely a mechanical operation. If the team knows that next sprint, they will have capacity for 20 points worth of stories, then 20 points of stories can be lifted directly from top of the backlog and entered to the current sprint. The result is a well-formed sprint plan, with work assigned and stories selected. This feels easy, like the right way to plan a sprint. It also completely misses the point of what is meant to be done in sprint planning.

Planning is not meant to be limited to determining which stories are going to be implemented, in fact, this should be the last step of the planning process. Instead of focusing on the backlog, velocity and the math …

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