How to conduct efficiently your Sprint Planning event

Jul 19 / Essowe Abalo
If you're navigating the often challenging waters of Agile project management, it's crucial that your sprint planning is on point. Missteps in this crucial stage can lead to confusion, missed deadlines, and potentially compromised project outcomes.

That's why I've compiled a practical guide to assist you through the process. This comprehensive article will walk you through understanding the roles of a Scrum Master or Agile Project Manager, what sprint planning and sprints (or iterations) are, and how to successfully conduct a sprint planning meeting.

I've also outlined 10 steps to take before, during, and after sprint planning, which can be the game-changer you need.
Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to the Agile world, this guide will help you steer your team towards success more effectively. After all, a well-executed sprint planning can set the pace for a productive and efficient sprint.

A Scrum Master or Agile Project Manager operates in a leadership role, steering an Agile team towards success. They help the team apply Agile principles effectively, facilitating clear communication, eliminating obstacles, and ensuring that the team has what it needs to meet its goals.

Understanding Sprint Planning:
Sprint planning is a crucial event in Agile project management where the team decides on the scope of work to be accomplished during a sprint. The planning process involves close collaboration, discussing the upcoming sprint's goals, and selecting items from the product backlog to work on.

What is a Sprint or Iteration?
A sprint, or iteration, in Agile project management, is a set time period during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review. Sprint durations are typically two weeks, but can range from one week to one month.

How to Conduct Sprint Planning

10 Steps Before Sprint Planning
  1. Product Backlog Prioritisation: Rank items based on business value and risk.
  2. Product Backlog Refinement: Break down large items and clarify requirements.
  3. Effort Estimation: Assign effort points to backlog items based on complexity.
  4. Team Capacity Calculation: Determine the team's working capacity for the upcoming sprint.
  5. Sprint Performance Review: Analyse previous sprints for lessons learned.
  6. Meeting Agenda Preparation: Outline topics for discussion during the sprint planning.
  7. Sprint Goals Setting: Define the objectives for the upcoming sprint.
  8. Stakeholder Availability Check: Ensure key stakeholders are available for the meeting.
  9. Definition of Done (DoD) Establishment: Agree on when a task is considered complete.
  10. Planning Tools & Materials Preparation: Prepare whiteboards, sticky notes, digital tools, etc.

10 Steps During Sprint Planning
  1. Sprint Goal Discussion: Discuss the overall objectives of the sprint.
  2. Backlog Items Presentation: Present prioritised items to the team.
  3. Clarification Session: Address any queries or assumptions about backlog items.
  4. Effort Estimation: Finalise effort estimates for selected items.
  5. Task Breakdown: Break items into manageable tasks.
  6. Initial Task Assignment: Assign tasks to team members.
  7. Sprint Capacity Determination: Finalise the number of items the team can handle.
  8. Sprint Backlog Review: Review and agree on the sprint backlog.
  9. Risk Discussion: Talk about potential risks and plan mitigation strategies.
  10. Sprint Plan Documentation: Document the final sprint plan.

10 Steps After Sprint Planning
  1. Sprint Plan Communication: Share the sprint plan with stakeholders.
  2. Sprint Board Setup: Set up the sprint board with tasks.
  3. Task Commencement: Start working on assigned tasks.
  4. Daily Stand-up Meetings: Conduct daily meetings to discuss progress.
  5. Sprint Progress Monitoring: Track the progress of the sprint.
  6. Daily Plan Adjustment: Review and adjust daily plans as needed.
  7. Impediment Addressing: Resolve any obstacles that arise.
  8. Progress Update: Keep stakeholders informed about progress.
  9. Sprint Review Preparation: Prepare for the end-of-sprint review.
  10. Sprint Retrospective: Reflect on the sprint process to improve future sprints.

Conclusion and Final Recommendation
Sprint planning forms the foundation of a successful sprint. As a Scrum Master or Agile Project Manager, your role in facilitating a smooth planning process is crucial. Remember, Agile is all about adaptability and continuous improvement, so keep refining your process based on experience and feedback. Good luck!