A Typical Sprint: From Start to Its CompletionSprint is the core of a Scrum framework, crucial to delivering value to customers incrementally. This guide talks in detail about the complete workflow of a typical Sprint, covering every event that comes in it.
Scrum is the most popular Agile framework used by software development teams. As per Digita.ai's 16th annual report, 87% of organizations using the Agile framework use Scrum. The widespread popularity of Scrum is due to its ability to divide complicated tasks into shorter user stories and emphasize incremental delivery.
The heart of Scrum is Sprint, which ensures time-boxed developments and incorporates all the other events of Scrum. Therefore, this article covers a typical Sprint workflow in detail, talking about all the events that happen within a Sprint. So, let's begin our discussion!
Sprint is a time-boxed iteration of a continuous development cycle. In a typical Sprint, the development team aims to complete the planned work within the specified duration. The length of a Sprint can be between 1-4 weeks.
There are four main events within a Sprint:
- Sprint Planning
- Daily Scrum
- Sprint Review
- Sprint Retrospective
All the events in a Sprint have specific purposes and require proper execution to ensure quality deliveries at the end of the Sprint. In the next section, we will discuss the workflow of a typical Sprint, from planning to finishing.
Sprint is a complete project in itself. The team sets the Sprint goal, works collaboratively to fulfill the Sprint objectives, and delivers incremental work for review. So, let's now dive deep into every stage of a typical Sprint:
The first day of the Sprint is dedicated to "Sprint Planning". The development team and the Product Owner meet on the first day of the Sprint to plan what to work on in this Sprint.
Despite Sprint Planning being a planning event, a few preparations should be made before the planning meeting. A few of those preparations include:
- The Product Backlog is refined, and the development team has estimated all the items using any technique like Planning Poker, Async Poker, Dot Voting, etc.
- The Product Owner has prioritized the Product Backlog correctly.
- The Product Owner should have planned how to discuss the Sprint Goal with the team.
- The development team should have a general idea of how much work they can handle in a Sprint.
All these four points are required to be prepared beforehand for efficient Sprint Planning.
Every Sprint is meant to deliver incremental value. For example, one Sprint can be about designing and integrating the login feature of the app, while another Sprint can be about fixing a major bug. Therefore, once the development team and Product Owner begin the Sprint Planning, the next thing is to decide the Sprint Goal and Sprint Value.
The Product Owner should have prioritized the Product Backlog such that the most essential items are on the top. The Product Owner should negotiate and finalize the Sprint Goal with the development team. Afterward, the team should pick a few items from the Product Backlog and create the Sprint Backlog.
The team should ensure that they only pick items related to the Sprint Goal and will help deliver a valuable increment to customers. However, the team should ensure they are only picking that much work they can handle in the Sprint. That's why it is necessary to estimate Product Backlog items beforehand.
Sprint Planning is not just about finalizing the Sprint Backlog but also about planning the execution. The team has to plan how to achieve the goal and tackle the development of the backlog items.
To plan Sprint execution, the best approach is to arrange the technical tasks and even divide them into small tasks. Simply put, the development team should prioritize the Sprint Backlog items and divide the complex tasks into smaller chunks.
The presence and involvement of the Product Owner is not necessary at this stage. Here, the role of the Product Owner is that of a facilitator who can help answer questions.
After this step, the Sprint Planning meeting is completed. If the meeting was successful, the team should now have a clear glimpse of what to achieve and how they are going to achieve it.
After Sprint Planning, the day-to-day Sprint activities begin. The team will work collaboratively to work on the Sprint Backlog and complete the tasks. They can even create a "Scrum Task Board" that provides a clear glimpse of where Sprint stands currently.
Daily Scrum is one of the crucial events in a Sprint. It is a 15-minute meeting where the development team meets at the start of the day to discuss three agendas:
- What they did yesterday
- What they intend to do today
- Are there any complications
Every development team member should participate in the meeting to discuss progress thoroughly. This meeting is conducted every day until the end of the Sprint. The goal of the Daily Scrum is to ensure that the team has a clear plan of what to achieve in the next 24 hours. This gives a sense of collaboration and encourages the self-organization aspect.
Product Backlog refinement is not a mandatory event in Sprint but a valuable and ongoing activity. It is about looking at the remaining backlog items and adding details or reprioritizing existing items. Besides that, the team can add new items to the backlog, such as bugs, new feature demands, etc. But the real question is when to conduct a Product Backlog refinement meeting.
There is a mixed opinion on this matter. Some teams prefer to spend 1-2 hours a week on it during the Sprint, while others intend to refine the Product Backlog after the end of the Sprint. So, it depends on how the team likes to handle this event.
During the Product Backlog refinement meeting, the Product Owner and the development team should be present. The Product Owner should start the meeting by presenting the current backlog items. Afterward, the team should start reviewing the items from the top to the bottom, refining them as required. During this process, the development team can split items into smaller tasks or add new items to the backlog.
By the end of the refinement meeting, the team should have a well-prioritized Product Backlog. However, if the team is not able to refine all the items in a single meeting, they can continue from where they left off in the next meeting.
Collaboration is the key to success when the team executes the Sprint. There is no such thing as solo work in Scrum. Each development team member should collaborate with others throughout the day. If someone faces complications, it should be fixed by the team's joint effort.
Some teams even opt for "pair programming", where two developers work together on the same code. The team also keeps the Scrum Task Board updated with progress. Overall, Sprint is all about effective communication and collaborative development.
If the team has worked collaboratively and remained focused on Sprint Goals, they should have completed all the Sprint Backlog tasks by the end of the Sprint. Now, the team has to conduct two main events: Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.
Sprint Review is a formal meeting conducted at the end of the Sprint. In this meeting, the development team demonstrates the deliverables of Sprint to the Product Owner and stakeholders. The stakeholders review the accomplishments and give their feedback. The development team responds to the feedback and can also ask other product-related questions for upcoming Sprints.
Besides demonstrating the progress, the Sprint Review is also an opportunity to celebrate the work. This gives team members confidence, increases their morale, and encourages them to show more commitment and productivity in the upcoming Sprints.
Moreover, some teams also refine the Product Backlog during this meeting. Overall, the Sprint Review meeting is all about evaluating the outcomes and setting the path for the next Sprints.
After Sprint Review, the last event of the Sprint is Sprint Retrospective. In this event, the team evaluates its workflow. The development team, Scrum Master, and the Product Owner should attend the meeting. The team should:
- Evaluate previous retrospective commitments.
- Assess the processes/practices followed in the current Sprint.
- Collaboratively discuss what went right and wrong.
- Discuss the major problems faced.
- Discuss the improvement strategies.
- Finalize the commitments of this retrospective.
This way, a Sprint Retrospective helps the Scrum team to optimize its workflow and improve its efficiency with every Sprint.
Sprint is the heartbeat of Scrum and the most crucial event that incorporates all the other events. Therefore, Scrum teams need to execute all the Sprint stages proficiently. A successful Sprint accomplishes the Sprint Goal, delivers a valuable product increment, and ensures a collaborative work culture. So, we will wrap up the discussion by recommending Scrum Teams to emphasize the top-notch execution of Sprint and its relevant events to maximize their efficiency and product success.