What Is Agile Sprint Planning? (Ultimate Guide)
Wondering what Agile sprint planning is all about?
Sprint planning is a process that helps you decide the goal and duration for each sprint (production cycle). It’s the first of all the Agile project ceremonies, and if done well, sets the right tone for the whole sprint.
Think of it this way.
If your production cycle is a marathon, then the sprint planning meeting trains you for it.
Except, this time, there’ll be no sweating it out!
Moreover, you don’t need to hire a personal trainer because we’re going to go over what is sprint planning and the simple step-by-step process that’ll help you do it yourself.
On your marks? Get set, go!
What Is Sprint Planning?
In the Agile Scrum framework, the sprint planning meeting decides what a team will accomplish (sprint goal) for the upcoming sprint.
But hold on, what’s a sprint?
While it’s not literally what it means, an Agile sprint can leave you breathless too.
In the Agile methodology, a sprint is a timeboxed session or iteration (typically between one to four weeks) during which a team completes a specific portion of a project. At the end of each iteration, the team produces a product increment.
Want to brush up on the essentials of the Agile methodology?
All caught up? Let’s get back to Scrum sprint planning with the help of an example.
Let’s assume your Agile or Scrum team is building a food delivery app.
In this case, the outcome of your sprint planning session could look like this:
- Sprint goal: what the team will achieve during the upcoming sprint. For example, build restaurant browsing features
- Sprint backlog: tasks required to finish building the product backlog item (user story) selected for the sprint.
In a nutshell, a sprint planning meeting should give the team direction and set expectations for the upcoming sprint.
For now, let’s answer the more urgent questions about Agile planning, like:
A. When does sprint planning happen?
Since it’s a ‘planning session,’ no prizes for guessing the answer.
A sprint planning session is conducted before starting a new sprint.
B. Who’s involved in sprint planning?
Although the whole development team is present during the session, the most important individuals in the process are the Scrum master and the product owner.
Here’s what they’re responsible for:
- Product owner: speaks for the client and owns the product vision. The product owner is also responsible for developing and updating the product backlog throughout the production cycle
- Scrum master: leads the entire Scrum team and ensures they have what they need going into the new sprint
- Development team: builds the product in a hands-on capacity
Along with these members, an Agile coach and the product manager may also attend the iteration planning meeting.
Read more about the three key Scrum roles.
C. How long should a sprint planning meeting be?
The duration of a sprint planning session (in hours) = (sprint length in no. of weeks) * 2
So if you’re planning for shorter sprints of no more than a week long, your planning session should not be longer than two hours.
The typical sprint length is between one to four weeks.
So a sprint planning session should never be longer than eight hours.
I mean, who would want to attend an eight-hour meeting?!
What Is The Agile Sprint Planning Process?
You can conduct the most decisive Scrum meeting the Michael Scott way…
…or you can follow our guide to the sprint planning process.
Take a look at what you need to do before and during a sprint session for the best results.
1. Pre-sprint planning meeting
Did you think that the time slot you booked for the meeting is enough for your sprint planning?
Seasoned professionals recommend doing all the heavy lifting before the meeting.
But if you play smart, you can use a tech solution at each stage.
Just follow these steps to prepare for your pre sprint planning meeting to conduct a successful sprint:
A. Select items from the product backlog
The product backlog is an ordered list of all the features required in the final product and helps you develop the next sprint backlog.
The product backlog is like a map for the product development process.
Except this map keeps… changing…
Don’t worry. We’re not talking about a magical Hogwarts map.
That would be cool too, but incredibly hard to follow.
The product owner is responsible for updating the product backlog with the latest user requirements throughout the development process. That’s why it’s also known as a ‘living artifact.’
But how do you make sure your product backlog is locked and loaded before each sprint? Especially when it’s constantly changing?
Try ClickUp’s Lists.
Gather all product backlog items under one roof and create an ordered list of tasks in them.
Want to organize them further? You can:
- Nestle each List item within specific project Folders
- Add relevant information to each List item, like owners, attachments, etc.
- Sort tasks according to their status of completion
- Drag and drop tasks to change their status
The product owner can then update these Lists in real-time and have them ready for the sprint planning meeting.
B. Measure user story points
Each product backlog item is broken down into user stories. And each user story represents a product feature that’ll add value to the end-user.
But how do you know which user story to build first and which to build later?
User story points will help you determine this.
User stories with higher assigned points gain priority over others.
Don’t worry. With ClickUp, you don’t have to be a math wiz for this!
Just enable the Sprint Points ClickApp and assign points in the default Fibonacci sequence, or use your own system.
The best part?
You can even sort and find stories based on their story points.
Moreover, ClickUp automatically generates detailed reports based on the Sprint Points you’ve assigned. So you know how the most important user stories are progressing.
C. Measure team velocity
Scrum is an Agile methodology. And what does Agile mean?
The ability to move fast.
So, of course, speed is everything on an Agile or Scrum project!
Well, almost everything.
You must also ensure you’re solving the right problems in the right manner.
And the Agile velocity metric helps you calculate just that.
Your team’s velocity in the previous sprint can be used as a benchmark for the upcoming sprint. So it’s something you need to have in hand before your next sprint plan.
Fortunately, ClickUp will keep this information ready with its automated Velocity Charts. And it’s just one of the many ways ClickUp’s Sprint Widgets offer you key insights.
Once you know your team’s velocity, you can…
D. Gauge team capacity
Take on too much, and you will exhaust your team.
Take on too little, and you’ll waste your team’s potential.
If you’re planning a new sprint, you need to know your team’s capacity and distribute work accordingly.
Capacity planning also helps you recognize if your project team members will be dedicated to other projects during the upcoming sprint.
Learn how capacity planning works.
To determine your team’s capacity, you could walk up to each project team member and chat about their ongoing tasks. Or even just handover tasks during coffee breaks.
Now, we love being social at work as much as Mr. Boss here.
But we also have a much better idea in mind.
Use ClickUp’s Workload view to figure out how many hours each project team member is available for, what tasks they’ve been assigned, and the points assigned to those tasks.
You can use any one of these categories to set the total capacity for each project team member. ClickUp will distribute this evenly over weekdays and even display everyone’s capacity in a color-coded chart.
There’s no way anyone can underestimate or overestimate team capacity after this!
E. Create a meeting agenda
And finally, armed with your team’s performance data for the previous sprint, you can prepare the agenda for the Agile sprint planning meeting.
Remember, sprint planning is a short meeting.
So there’s no time for lengthy brainstorms or corporate pep talks.
You’ll need a watertight action plan.
For an effective sprint planning meeting, we suggest you plan using ClickUp’s Docs.
Docs isn’t your ordinary document tool. It has a whole bunch of collaborative features that let you draft, save, and curate documents for the entire team.
Invite colleagues to share ideas and suggestions and track changes on the doc. Or paste a sprint planning template on Docs to ease the process.
Throw in some Mind Maps in your agenda for good measure if you’re feeling creative!
If your plan is epic enough, you can even index it to show up on Google so the whole world can see what you made!
2. During the sprint planning meeting
The big day is here. Are you ready to take on what’s coming for you?
Take a look at what to expect during a sprint planning session.
A. Set the goal
Goal setting is the most important aspect of a sprint planning session.
The sprint goal offers the team the right perspective for the upcoming sprint, and you want to bring everyone’s attention to it. Thinking glitter pens and colorful banners?
Instead, think ClickUp Goals.
Any high-level Goal can be broken down into smaller targets like numbers, currency, or even true/false statements. The Goal will update itself (on your Dashboard) each time you mark tasks and Targets within it as complete.
B. Present essential metrics
Forgive our poetic thoughts, but Goals are like kites.
They’re dreamy and colorful.
But to ensure that you can keep track of them and they don’t fly away, you need performance metrics.
Performance metrics are proof that you can and will achieve your goals.
So why not show off impressive performance metrics from your previous sprint with ClickUp’s:
And much more!
These metrics highlight your successes as well as give you space for course correction when required.
In ClickUp, you can find these metrics and more in an easy-to-use widget format on your Dashboard.
And hey, why not bring them up during the daily Scrum meetings to update everyone on the progress of the Agile project? Just share the Dashboard and get your team talking numbers.
C. Finalize sprint backlog items
Before the meeting, the product owner and Scrum master should have a proposed sprint backlog ready.
During the meeting, the rest of the development team can assess its feasibility and finalize the sprint backlog.
You can complete this entire process using ClickUp’s Multiple Views.
Want to compare sprint progress with the upcoming holiday season? Use the Calendar view.
D. Clarify doubts with the product owner
A sprint meeting isn’t successful if people go back with questions in their minds.
An effective sprint planning meeting gives all team members space to voice concerns regarding capacity or resolve any disputes. Pretty much anything that helps them feel confident about the upcoming sprint.
So make sure to include a Q&A session towards the end.
But if things get left out, there’s always ClickUp’s Chat view.
Conduct summary brainstorms or plan the year’s ‘Dundies.’
The Chat view is for everyone!
And if team members have doubts regarding specific tasks, they can use ClickUp’s task-specific Comments Section.
E. Get back to work
Curtains on planning sessions. It’s time for action!
ClickUp will keep you company through every step of your sprint.
It’ll even remind you to hydrate! (If you set the Reminder first.)
Get plenty of help along the way with a bunch of sprint-friendly features like:
- Workflow Automation: automate repetitive tasks and save precious time on your sprint
- Native Time Tracking: track how long your tasks take right inside ClickUp
- Gantt Chart: visualize project progress in attractive Gantt Charts
- Time Estimates: estimate project completion dates by assigning time limits to each task
- Integrations: integrate third-party apps, like Zoom and Google Drive into your ClickUp workspace
- Mobile Apps: connect with your team on the go with ClickUp’s mobile apps for Android and iOS devices
Sprinting To Success
Whether they’re part of large corporations or new-age startups, every Agile team needs a sprint planning event.
But if you do it, you gotta do it right.
So don’t spread your plans on papers and random tools.
Find a home for all your sprint planning needs in the world’s best Agile project management and sprint planning tool: ClickUp!
And just like a good marathoner, ClickUp’s in it for the long haul.
So why wait? Get ClickUp for free today and hit the ground running!