IntelliSteps Consultancy

An Effective Team is Required for Successful Sprint Planning Meeting

What should be the are art of sprint planning?

Successful Agile Implementation depends a lot on successful sprint planning meetings, which in turn requires expertise and extensive learning.

Sprint Planning – an overview

The first meeting which is held to kick off the sprint is the Sprint Planning Meeting.

Who are the Attendees: the product owner, Scrum Master and the entire Scrum team?

It is a rarity that other external stakeholders may attend but only by invitation from the team.

During the sprint planning meeting, it is the product owner’s role to describe the features to the team which are of topmost priority. The team in return shall ask all the necessary questions which they require to know so that they can define a high-level user story of the product backlog into the more descriptive tasks of the sprint backlog.

Assumption: For successful agile implementation a healthy team and environment is a MUST HAVE

Common Pitfalls:

  1. Lack of preparation for the sprint planning meeting by the person in charge of the backlog
  2. Lack of trust on the team and causing barriers for them to arrive at their own decisions.

This leads to avoidance instead of commitment by the team and thereby defeats the basic purpose of going agile

These are the common grievances if the sprint planning is not going well:

  • Team not willing to spend time and don’t see a value in it.
  • Feelings like “It takes way too long and my involvement is almost none, so why do I have to be there at the first place?
  • At the end it is the manager who does the entire work. So to save time, they should assign the stories and complete the definitions
  • Ambiguity in the stories so it is difficult to estimate the time to do it..

The pointers mentioned below can help you overcome the pitfalls mentioned above and avoid the grievances. Keep them handy with you always.

1.1. Envisage

1.1.1. Mentor the team to walk to the end of sprint during the sprint planning itself

Help the team to imagine walk through the path before they actually commit in doing it. This can be done in guidance with the product owner.

1.1.2.Let the team imagine that it is done, and let them imagine how it looks like

1.1.3. Define the ways to demonstrate when it is complete?

This will helps the team to define the acceptance criteria, remove ambiguity (which if not removed can lead to non-conformance).

1.1.4. Set a fast-forwarded mindset, by setting a tone like – people are already “there.”

This will help the team to visualizing the product before it is created.

1.2. Encourage

You should try and build an environment where self-independence is the key among the team and they strive for backlog ownership. This can be done by giving them a sense of belongingness, letting them to take ownership and if stuck they should be allowed to get out of it their way. Remember we are not saying to ignore but delegate

Work as a mentor and facilitator for your team.

1.3. Reflect

Retrospection on the past sprint(s) is key when you’re concluding a sprint and just before planning the new one.

You and your team have been working for quite a while and it is not uncommon for teams to feel that they will get no further value out of the retrospection. Never let that happen!

1.4. Allow the team to share feedback about the previous sprint.

Ask questions like:

  • What went well?
  • What could have been better?
  • What might need some tuning?
  • What could be done to enhance future sprints?

This will help you uncover problems that might come up in future. This will help you to improve your future sprints.

If they are not able to share you can do a One to One meeting and ask them to rate things on a scale of 1 – 5

Sometimes writing down feedback works rather than openly discussing it.

So these are just few tips to improve your sprint planning.

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