What is a sprint

In our previous article we explored what scrum artifacts and events are. Now let’s continue the topic of agile methodology and talk more about sprint and sprint planning.

As you can remember, sprint is short-term period of time when a certain scope of work should be completed. According to scrum, big projects are to be organized in a way of a set of iterations (sprints), thus, frequent delivery statement of agile is followed.

Sprints are the core of scrum which importance cannot be underestimated. Well-executed sprint is the key for success.

Let’s talk how to organize a proper sprint planning event. According to Dave West, CEO of Scrum.org, the success of the sprint depends on setting the right focus and agenda during sprint planning. If expectations are too unrealistic, it will lead to failure. Also, it’s worth mentioning that if a company has several projects, then each project requires a unique approach. In other words, it should have its own sprint time-frame and its own developers involved in it.

At the beginning of the event the scrum master reviews the results of previous sprint and makes decisions concerning the goal (the what) of the current one. The team decides if this goal can be achieved during this sprint or more time is needed.

Then, scrum master assigns developers (the who) user stories that must be completed at the end of the sprint. If needed, the team can discuss the procedures (the how) which are required to deliver the sprint objective.

Having a clear and comprehensive product backlog (the inputs) is a perfect foundation for a sprint backlog. It’s worth mentioning that new ideas can be added to the backlog anytime, due to agile flexibility. If the desired feature is too big and complex, then a new epic can be created.

As the scrum master is the one person, who assigns story points to user stories in regard of their complexity. If developers have objections or doubts about scrum master’s decisions, then they should be discussed during the meeting. It’s essential for a scrum team to have a complete understanding of their work at the end of the event (the outputs).

Organizing the work within scrum framework requires a lot of discipline. Every element of a scrum team should fulfil their role accordingly. Hence, the product owner should collect all the information from the stakeholder and transform it into comprehensive user stories. The scrum master is responsible for making developers understand what should be done during the sprint and how. And the development team needs to estimate their abilities to be sure that they will be able to complete the tasks required within limited timeline.

The goal of the event is to have a sprint backlog, where all the user stories for the current sprint are listed.

After sprint planning is done, the team starts working. To measure the work progress, the team organizes daily stand-up meetings where they discuss what items from sprint backlog were done and what items are still in-progress.

At the end of the sprint, the scrum team discusses the work completed with stakeholders during sprint review event. There they demonstrate what they have achieved during past sprint and plan what they are going to do for the next one.

And finally, there is the sprint retrospective event, where the team members share ideas about what can be done to improve the run of the next sprint.

And this cycle is iterated till the end of the project.

The key of successful scrum sprint is cooperation: all the tasks should be understood and all the issues should not be ignored by all team members. It’s also important not to overestimate people’s abilities, if the task seems to be too challenging, it is better to split it for several sprints.

In our next articles we will return to scrum topic giving more information about scrum events and artifacts.

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