Project management & leadership | December 8, 2022

Become a Successful Scrum Team: How To Sprint Plan

One of the keys to success is learning how to create an awesome sprint plan. After all, like many things in project management, if you don’t have a good plan in place, you’re setting yourself up for failure. In this article we’ll look at what sprint planning is, how to do it, and work through 5 tips to help you master your next sprint planning meeting.

Become a Successful Scrum Team: How To Sprint Plan

Whether you’re new to Scrum or you’ve been using the framework for a while, one of the keys to success is learning how to create an awesome sprint plan. After all, like many things in project management, if you don’t have a good plan in place, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert in sprint planning. After we’ve reminded ourselves of the Scrum basics, we’ll look at what sprint planning is, how to do it, and work through 5 tips to help you master your next sprint planning meeting.

Ready? Then let’s get going!

A Quick Recap – Scrum Framework & The Scrum Team

Before we jump into the art of sprint planning, it’s worth reminding ourselves of some Scrum basics.

Scrum is a framework, most often used in agile project management and software development, that encourages teams to work collaboratively and iteratively towards a defined goal. The framework comprises several ceremonies, team roles, and processes that create an easy-to-use, lightweight project management method.

Scrum gets its name from a rugby formation where everyone has a defined role in the team. If everyone plays their role effectively, the team will succeed and achieve its objectives. These roles are defined as:

  • The Product Owner. The Product Owner is the interface between the development team and the business users/customers. The Product Owner’s primary role is to ensure the expectations for the product are communicated, prioritized, and agreed upon.
  • The Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is the glue that holds the scrum team members together, working primarily as a facilitator. The Scrum Master ensures Scrum is followed, facilitates ceremonies (such as the Daily Scrum), helps the team collaborate, and looks for ways to improve team efficiency.
  • The Development Team. The Development Team are responsible for creating, testing, and deploying incremental releases of the final product. To do this, they constantly collaborate to deliver new features, all in line with the Scrum framework.

To work in a truly agile way, the Scrum framework operates iteratively. Most teams work on two-week sprint cycles allowing them to plan, deliver, and review their work regularly, learning lessons and making improvements as they go.

Scrum is one of the most popular delivery frameworks, with many software development teams swearing by the Scrum Guide as the optimal way to get things done.

sprint planning

What is Sprint Planning?

Sprint planning is an event in Scrum that starts off a new two-week sprint.

The Sprint Planning session aims to define what will be delivered in the upcoming sprint and how that work will be achieved. Both of these things come together to form the sprint goal.

Specifically, during a Sprint Planning meeting, teams will select items from the Product Backlog that they would like to see completed within the sprint, this then forms the Scrum team’s upcoming Sprint backlog.

Sprint planning is one of the core Scrum ceremonies and is done in collaboration with the whole Scrum team, including the Product Owner and the Scrum Master.

What is a Product Backlog & a Sprint Backlog?

Many people get confused when comparing the Product Backlog and the Sprint Backlog. To help clear things up, let’s look at each one side-by-side:

Product Backlog – The Product Backlog is an ordered, refined list of the requirements that need to be delivered to create/improve the product. The Product Backlog is managed by the Product Owner (through backlog refinement) and comprises many product backlog items.

Sprint Backlog – The Sprint Backlog is the set of requirements that the development team plan to work on in the upcoming sprint. Crucially, the items that form the Sprint Backlog are selected, by the team, from the Product Backlog during the sprint planning event.

What is a Product Backlog & a Sprint Backlog?

The Scrum Team Roles During Sprint Planning – Scrum Master, Product Owner & Development Team Members

As we’ve seen, Sprint Planning involves the entire Scrum team. Here’s what each team member should do to master effective Sprint Planning:

  • Before the meeting, the Product Owner identifies, orders, and refines the Product Backlog items and proposes a sprint goal.
  • The Development Team members decide how many of the Product Backlog items they forecast they will be able to complete in the next sprint and determine how they will deliver them.
  • The Scrum Master facilitates the ceremony to ensure the discussion is effective and that the sprint goal is agreed upon.

To deliver a successful sprint planning meeting, the whole team must agree upon the Sprint Goal.

5 Tips for Running an Awesome Sprint Planning Meeting

Now that you know all about Sprint Planning, let’s finish with five tips to help you make your new sprint genuinely awesome.

  1. Prepare ahead of time. If you’re the Scrum Master, this one’s on you. Take time to assess the session’s who, what, when, why, and where, and make sure the meeting’s date and time work for the entire team. As a rule of thumb, allow 2 hours for every week of your sprint to give you enough time to fully define the sprint goal, e.g., 8 hours for a one-month sprint.
  2. Recap previous work. Begin your sprint planning session by reminding yourself of past performance. While you’ll complete a retrospective at the end of the sprint, refreshing during the sprint planning helps you set the stage, reconfirm the overarching vision, and create a positive atmosphere.
  3. Start with the Product Backlog. Next, the Product Owner should remind everyone of the backlog and vision for the product. The backlog should include about 2-4 sprints‘ worth of work, which the development team can organize and decide which items will be the main focus for the next sprint.
  4. Don’t be afraid of ownership. While Scrum is all about collaboration, don’t be afraid to clearly call out who in the team will be responsible for each task in the current sprint. This will help you measure performance during the sprint review, track progress towards the sprint goal, and give team members the responsibility for items in the sprint.
  5. Sense-check before you commit. Before agreeing on the Sprint Backlog and Sprint goal, make sure you can actually achieve the sprint. Sense-check with the previous sprint velocity and look ahead to confirm that each member of the development team has full availability for the duration of your sprint.

To Wrap Up…

Scrum is a great framework for delivering software development projects in a fast, efficient, and flexible way. But, like anything in project management, if you get your planning wrong, there’s a good chance you’ll fail.

No matter your role in the Scrum team, it pays to boost your knowledge of Sprint Planning to ensure you come into your next meeting ready to contribute. If you do, you’ll be well on your way to sprint success and have a great time doing it!

Exclusive Content Awaits!

Dive deep into our special resources and insights. Subscribe to our newsletter now and stay ahead of the curve.

Information on the processing of personal data

Exclusive Content Awaits!

Dive deep into our special resources and insights. Subscribe to our newsletter now and stay ahead of the curve.

Information on the processing of personal data

Subscribe to our newsletter to unlock this file

Dive deep into our special resources and insights. Subscribe now and stay ahead of the curve – Exclusive Content Awaits

Information on the processing of personal data

Almost There!

We’ve sent a verification email to your address. Please click on the confirmation link inside to enjoy our latest updates.

If there is no message in your inbox within 5 minutes then also check your *spam* folder.

Already Part of the Crew!

Looks like you’re already subscribed to our newsletter. Stay tuned for the latest updates!

Oops, Something Went Wrong!

We encountered an unexpected error while processing your request. Please try again later or contact our support team for assistance.

    Get notified about new articles

    Be a part of something more than just newsletter

    I hereby agree that Inetum Polska Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as: my full name, e-mail address, telephone number and Skype ID/name for commercial purposes.

    I hereby agree that Inetum Polska Sp. z o.o. shall process my personal data (hereinafter ‘personal data’), such as: my full name, e-mail address and telephone number for marketing purposes.

    Read more

    Just one click away!

    We've sent you an email containing a confirmation link. Please open your inbox and finalize your subscription there to receive your e-book copy.

    Note: If you don't see that email in your inbox shortly, check your spam folder.