Sprint Planning

Frequency: Once per sprint

Meeting length: 2 - 8 hours

What is Agile Planning?

Agile planning is focused on getting the answers to simple questions like

  • What is to be built?
  • When will it be completed?
  • How much will it cost and who should be involved?

The project managers also explore hidden dependencies for various activities to minimize the idle time and optimize delivery period. Agile planning revolves around measuring the velocity and efficiency of an Agile team to assess when it can turn the user stories into processes, production-ready software, and quality product delivery. The ultimate goal of Agile planning is to have a clear picture of project vision, production roadmap with sprint schedule, and business interests. To simplify the things, Agile planning can be stipulated of different levels;

  • product vision
  • product roadmap
  • release
  • iteration
  • daily commitment.

Level 1: Agile Planning For Product Vision – Five Tips

Agile planning starts with product vision creation ensuring that strategies are aligned properly and the development team spends its time on creating the right valuable product. The product vision guides the team members for the shared goal like a lighthouse. The product vision statement tells about ‘how the product supports organization’s strategies.’ You can simplify the process of Agile product vision development by making it a four-step exercise – development, drafting, validation, finalizing. The following five tips will help you to get the most out of it:

  • Product vision should deliver the unique feel of ownership to keep you motivated.
  • Validate your product vision with all the stakeholders, Scrum team members, users etc.
  • Develop the product vision iteratively & incrementally with the scope to make it better over time.
  • The product vision pitch should address all the key concerns of different stakeholder groups pertaining to quality, product goals, competition, longevity and maintenance needs etc.
  • Focus your product vision on the values for users and customers not merely on the most advanced technology.

Level 2: Agile Product Roadmap Planning– Five Tips

An Agile product roadmap is a plan that describes the way the product is likely to grow; it also facilitates for learning to change. To succeed in Agile management, you need to have a goal-oriented roadmap as it provides crucial information about everyday work by the team. As a powerful Agile management tool, it helps to align all the stakeholders and to estimate sufficient budget for quality product development as per schedule. Creating effective roadmap is often a challenge because changes occur unexpectedly in an Agile environment; however, the following five tips will help you plan the most effective roadmap:

  • Do all the necessary prep work including describing & validating the product strategy. To know more about ‘Product strategy in the Agile world’, visit - https://svpg.com/product-strategy-in-an-agile-world/ .
  • Focus your product roadmap on goals, benefits, objectives, acquiring customers, removing technical debt and increasing engagement etc.
  • Let your product roadmap tell a coherent story about the likely development of a product. To simplify the task, you can divide the product roadmap into two parts- internal product roadmap and external roadmap. The internal product roadmap is focused on development, service, supporting groups, marketing, sales etc; while, the external roadmap is focused on prospective & existing customers.
  • Keep the product roadmap simple and realistic to make the features understood by everyone concerned.
  • Make your product roadmap measurable; so, think twice before adding timelines and deadlines.

Level 3: Release Planning – Five Tips

In Agile landscape, the release is a set of product increments released to the customer. The release plan defines how much work your team will deliver by the mentioned deadline. Release planning is the collaborative task involving Scrum master (facilitates the meeting), Product owner (shares product backlog view), Agile team (provides insights into technical dependencies & feasibility) and Stakeholders (the trusted advisors). The following five tips will help you in effective release planning:

  • Focus on goals, benefits, and results.
  • Take dependencies and uncertainties into account.
  • Release early but don’t release just for the sake of scheduled releasing.
  • Only release the work that is ‘Done’. To know more about ‘Definition of Done (DoD)’ in Agile, plz visit - https://www.knowledgehut.com/blog/agile-management/definition-of-done-use-in-agile-project .
  • Each release process has the scope for betterment. Continuous release process improvement helps you deliver more values for the product.

Level 4: Iteration Planning - Five Tips

The iteration planning is done by holding a meeting, where all the team members determine the volume of backlog items they can commit to deliver during the next iteration. The commitment is made according to the team’s velocity and iteration schedule. The following five tips will help you in effective iteration planning:

  • Span the iteration planning meeting maximum up to 4 hours.
  • The planning meeting is organized by the team and for the team; so, everyone should participate.
  • Avoid committing anything that exceeds the historical team’s velocity.
  • Keep time for ‘retrospectives’ in the past sprints before planning for the next one. To know more about ‘Agile retrospective’, visit - https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/heartbeatretro/.
    Follow the four principles prepare, listen, respect & collaborate

Level 5: Daily Commitment Planning– Five Tips:

Like many other planning activities for Agile management, the daily commitment planning also needs the synchronized partnership of teams. The daily planning meeting is focused on completing the top-priority features. The 15-minute standup meeting facilitates face-to-face communication on individual’s progress and impediments if any. The following five tips will help you in progress-oriented daily commitment planning:

  • Keep it around the task board.
  • Start on time regardless of who is present or not.
  • Let each team member go through the questions like - what he did yesterday, what is his plan for today, and, is there any impediment?.
  • Use ‘Parking Lot’ for the unresolved issues. The purpose of daily Agile-Scrum planning is to let the team members know about ‘being done’, ‘needs to be done’ and ‘hindrance if any’. Anything out of this scope should be listed in ‘Parking Lot’ to be dealt later.
  • Do preparation ahead of time. The team members should know ‘what they need to share’.