What is Sprint Planning?

Why Sprint Planning:

Remember is Scrum we work in baby steps. Sprint Planning is the event where we plan 2015wk6_seahawks_carolina_blog_22what we can achieve as a Scrum Team in Two weeks. We need all members of the team in the Sprint Planning. Giving a sports analogy this is the meeting on the day of the big game in the locker room.


  1. OPENING   Welcome, Parking Lot, Working Agreement, Action Items  for meeting
  2. WHAT CAN WE DO IN THIS SPRINT –  This is a discussion between the PO and the team to decide how many Product Backlog items can be completed in this sprint.
  4. DECIDE A SPRINT GOAL- Collectively the team and PO write a sprint goal defining the purpose of the sprint.
  5. TASK BREAKDOWN- The team members work in groups to break down tasks for each Product Backlog Item. (This can take a while)
  6. SPRINT FORECASTING AND CONFIDENCE VOTE. Scrum Master checks with the team if they feel comfortable with the work they have planned.
  7. CLOSE – Clear Parking Lot. Assign names to Action Items and do a Retrospective on how the meeting went.

10 Smells of an InEffective Sprint Plan

  1. The team pulls stories that do not have acceptance criteria
  2. The meeting finishes really quickly
  3. The meeting goes forever 6 to 8 hours
  4. Everyone has laptops open and no one is talking to each other
  5. Team members are being told what to do
  6. Stories and Acceptance Criteria are being written for the first time here
  7. The team is estimating the story here for the first time
  8. The Scrum Master is controlling the entire meeting
  9. New Team members feel lost
  10. Managers are sitting idle watching the plan instead of participating in it

Note: In Distributed teams sometimes the sprint planning is done over two days. Esp when you have PO in one country like the USA and the team in completely opposite time zone like Singapore.


Agile Defined

The manifesto is governed by 4 Values and 12 Principles. Being Agile sticks when companies focus ground up starting with building the value system followed by practicing the values, doing some of the practices and hence getting the benefits. This is often referred as Inside Out Agility.

Under the Agile Umbrella, there are many methods. Scrum is a method, Kanban is another. There are many others as well. Within each of these methods, there are many practices.   

In general Being Agile means, you are using one or more of the Agile frameworks but are surely following the four values and 12 principles as much as you can.

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The recommended approach to go with imbibing Agility is something called Inside Out Agility. This focuses on making sustainable changes based on Culture, Structure, Agile Values and Principles and then following practices like Agile and Scrum. Most of the Agile transformation programs that follow an outside in Agility in order to gain the benefit of Agility. While the Inside out is not an easy path it has proven to be more successful than any other approach.

How Does Scrum Feel?

Let’s get some keywords out of the way first.  

Scrum  – A framework to deliver value to the customer iteratively.

Sprint – A time box where an increment of value is delivered. Mostly 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks.

Roles-  Scrum has Three Roles.

    1. Scrum Master – Remover of impediments. Team motivator, Servant leader
    2. Product Owner – Voice of the customer. Works with team and stakeholder to create value.
    3. Development Team – A self-organized cross-functional team that delivers value.
    4. Scrum Team – Collectively the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development team are called this.

Events– The Scrum Framework has four productive events. ( meetings )

    1. Sprint Planning – Plan the work of sprint so that we can deliver value at the end of Sprint.
    2. Daily Scrum – A 15-minute daily plan.
    3. Sprint Review  A product feedback, inspect and adapt cycle.
    4. Sprint Retrospective – A process improvement Inspect, Adapt Cycle

Artifacts – Things of value produced in a time-box.

  1. Product Backlog – A backlog is a term for a list of things to do, also called Requirements. This is owned by the Product Owner
  2. Sprint Backlog  Also called As Task Board or Scrum Board.A tool used by the development team to be transparent about the work they are doing in the sprint.
  3. Product Increment – This is the reason we do Scrum. To build something of value in Short iterations of time.

An easy way to remember the core Scrum Framework is with the 3-4-3 rule. Yes, there are only 10 things to the Scrum Framework.

In Scrum, 3 Roles, the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development team go to 4 Events – Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective in which the produce 3 core Artifacts. The Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog and the Product Increment Itself.

Let us look at what goes on in one sprint for a Scrum Team which is doing two-week sprints.

Day 1: Sprint Plan -The Development Team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master meet in a sprint planning event. This is normally 4 hours max for a two-week sprint. In this event, the team “Pulls” items that are ordered as high priority and breaks them into what done means for each item.  The team defines a Sprint Goal that they can march towards.

As the team finishes the sprint planning the Scrum Master is cleaning up the task board and getting it ready for the current sprint. The team members help prepare the board too.

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Day 2:

The team starts with a Daily Scrum in the morning. The Daily Scrum is done in front of the task board.

It is a good practice to update the task board before the daily scrum to keep the daily scrum going smooth.

Day 5:

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This team works on something called one-piece workflow. Which means they really like to finish one story completely before pulling another.

The task board on Day 5 looks like this. ( This is just an example)

The team has finished story A and is working on B on Day 5.

What else do you notice that is different from the task board today?

The team has also updated the burndown chart. Their burndown chart has the number of tasks on the Y-Axis and the number of days on X-Axis.

They also demo the  Backlog item A to the Product owner and get acceptance from him.

Day 9:


The team has finished two stories and decides not to pull the third story as planned as they have no more time. They get acceptance on the second story too. Way to go team.  You Rock!.

They meet in the evening for half an hour to “Get Ready for the Sprint Review”.

Day 10:

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The team is delighted to have finished two of three stories. This is called the Say Do Ratio.

Sprint Review:  The Development Team, Product Owner, Scrum Master meet for an hour and a half to talk about what was delivered in the sprint. 

The product owner talks about the two stories completed and then the team members take turn to show the two stories to the stakeholders in the room. 

They get feedback back about a small change that was requested in the Story B. The product owner says he will get it changed.

The sprint review ends with a small celebration.

Sprint Retrospective:

The Development team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master meet to discuss improvements they can do to the process so that they can do better. They plan to meet for an hour and a half.

The entire Scrum team talks about the two impediments that came in between the sprint, that slowed them down due to which the second story took a bit longer than they thought. One of them being story B turned out to be much bigger than they thought.

They take an action item to break stories smaller so that this problem does not happen again. The Scrum Master erases all content in the room except the one action item that they took. 

This sprint ends.