Scrum Ceremony Best Practices – The Sprint Planning Meeting

Meeting with woman writing on notebook

Our next deep dive into Scrum ceremony best practices involves Sprint Planning. If you have not already had a chance to read my Sprint planning protocol article, please head over to: https://agilearmy.com/2017/10/01/scrum-beginnings-part-9-your-first-sprint-planning/.

The Sprint Planning meeting is extremely crucial to get right because it is normally the first ceremony of the sprint, so it can easily set the tone for how the team will perform over the coming iteration. A well organized and smooth planning meeting will allow your team to jump right into development without any hesitation. A poor planning meeting can slow them down and possibly hinder them from even beginning because they will leave with questions and uncertainty about priority, responsibility and direction.

Purpose of Sprint Planning:

  • Obtain a team commitment to the sprint
    • It should be no surprise at all that the main goal of the Sprint Planning meeting is to get a rock solid commitment from your team about what is to be worked on and completed over the next sprint. Avoid grooming and taking care of other extraneous tasks during this meeting.

Best Practices:

  • Following planning, The Scrum master should ask the team “Based on what we pulled in, are we committed to completing these tasks?”
    • Use “Thumbs up or down” or “Fist of 5”
    • If there is not a consensus, then discuss and re-adjust
  • Change the Rally sprint drop-down option to “Committed”
    • This signals to management and other stakeholders what we are committing to.
  • Under commit and over deliver. You can always pull more in
    • Don’t let the team’s ego get in the way. You can always pull in more work if you finish early. There is no need to take on more than you can handle.
  • All stories must be tasked out before the end of meeting
    • Consider using tasks that are half day (3 hours), one day (6 hours), two days (12 hours), etc
  • PO should have the stories slotted in the sprint 1-2 days before planning so that team can start looking at them
  • Team members or the Scrum Master should figure out capacity and velocity before planning meeting
  • Develop a Task Template that can be used to quickly import frequently used tasks from other stories

 

Benefits of an efficient Sprint Planning Meeting:

    • Allows teams to swarm efficiently on stories
    • Keeps the team working at sustainable pace and deliver quality software
    • Encourages the members to think in terms of the team, not just their own individual work
    • Proper planning promotes meeting delivery commitments
    • Keeps the team prioritized, focused and ready to develop without distractions
    • Keeps the team happy and not sitting in long, boring meetings!

Conclusion:

This can be a hard meeting to get right! Keep practicing and working on making this as efficient as possible. I encourage the development team to task out the stories before Sprint planning to make the meeting go even quicker. If not, there will be a lot of dead time filling in boring tasks as others wait around. As I mentioned before, please review my “first sprint planning meeting” article to get a bird’s eye view of my workflow.

What do you do in your own Sprint Plannings? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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