Sprint planning is a key process for the agile project manager (PM). It’s a collaborative process that involves defining the scope of a sprint, outlining the tasks to be completed, and helping the team understand the priority order of their work.
But, without proper direction from the project manager, a sprint planning session between stakeholders and developers can quickly turn into a dumpster fire.
Formalizing the outputs of your sprint planning session helps ensure that everyone is on the same page about the outcomes and your planning is on the right track.
Let’s take a look at the essential deliverables that product managers should focus on to host a productive sprint planning session — from deadline estimates to role assignments to the entire sprint backlog, and more.
Want to host a productive sprint planning session? Then here’s your cheat-sheet!
What’s the Point of Sprint Planning?
Let’s talk about why you need a sprint plan in the first place.
Agile development is an iterative process that works by breaking tasks into smaller chunks. Dividing your project into time-boxed periods is a way of making things more manageable for your SCRUM team, but that only works if you have a plan for utilizing those time periods.
So, agile teams begin every sprint with a collaborative session that chalks out the goals, outcomes, and timelines of that specific sprint. This also helps to identify any potential roadblocks and things that could bottleneck progress moving forward.
Now that you know why you’re conducting sprint planning, let’s dive into the exact ingredients for making this process a success.
How to Prepare for a Sprint Planning Session
What are the inputs required to adequately prepare for your next sprint planning session? As a product manager, here are the five things you need to do:
Prepare an agenda: Make sure to include key topics such as goal setting, team assignments, task breakdowns, and timeline estimates.
Gather the necessary materials: See that you have the project documents, user stories, any relevant feedback from stakeholders or users, and a meeting space for the team to work in.
Invite the right people: Invite team members who will be involved in completing the tasks for the sprint and any stakeholders who need to be kept in the loop on progress and decisions.
Set concrete expectations: Explain to everyone attending what a sprint planning session is and how it works, so that everyone is on the same page on expectations for participation and outcomes.
Plan for breaks: Give your team time to take breaks during the session so they can stay focused on tasks at hand.
The 8 Sprint Planning Outputs You Should Focus On
There’s just one more thing to do before you kick off your sprint planning session.
Decide on a list of concrete deliverables to ensure that your sprint planning meeting is on the right track and that it doesn’t get derailed due to disagreements and confusion. Here’s a list of common sprint planning outputs you should consider to help guide your session:
Sprint Goal: A clear and concise statement of what the team is trying to achieve during the sprint, approved by the product owner.
User Stories: A list of user stories, features, and functionalities that will be included in the sprint, including acceptance criteria and effort estimates.
Tasks and Assignments: A list of tasks needed to implement the user stories, including deadline estimates and role assignments for each task.
Sprint Backlog: A detailed backlog of all the tasks in the sprint, prioritized by importance and urgency.
Burndown Chart: A graphical representation of the progress made on a daily basis by your development team during the sprint, along with estimates and goals.
Resource Allocation Plan: A plan for allocating material resources to tasks in order to complete them as efficiently as possible.
Risk Management Plan: A plan for identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks associated with each task in the sprint backlog.
Communication Plan: An outline of how communication will take place within and outside of the team during the project’s development cycle.
Why Time Tracking Is Important to Sprint Planning
7pace is a time-tracking tool for agile software development teams, so you’re probably wondering where time-tracking fits into this whole equation. It’s actually very simple:
Time tracking is important to sprint planning because it helps teams to understand how much time they have available to complete tasks and prioritize their work across the entire iteration.
It also allows them to accurately gauge the progress of the current sprint, identify any areas that need additional resources, and ensure that they stay on track with their goals.
Additionally, time tracking can help teams identify any bottlenecks or areas of inefficiency that need to be addressed to improve productivity and efficiency.
Use 7pace to Improve Your Sprint Planning Workflow
7pace is a time-tracking tool that’s tailor made for DevOps professionals. It works by integrating directly into your development environment and providing accurate tracking data on every story, project, and team member.
How does it work? 7pace augments existing development platforms like Azure DevOps and Github, combining their data with its own proprietary time-tracking functionality. In the end, this leads to much better effort estimates and project forecasts down the line.
When you have months of historical data on the amount of time taken by your team to complete user stories across different sprints, it helps you create better sprint plans to support the product development process during future projects.