Agile projects require close coordination and communication across all levels so as to be successful. As such, the sprint meeting is one of the most important meetings for managers on agile teams to attend and lead. We will cover a breakdown of how to run these meetings and what should be covered.
You can use our sprint meeting checklist for managers template on this page to help you plan your next sprint meeting.
What is agile project management?
Agile project management is a way of working where teams use incremental, iterative and time-boxed development in order to maximize stakeholder benefit. By doing this they avoid delivering late or bad quality work that benefits no one.
What is a sprint in agile project management?
In agile project management a sprint is a time-box, typically 1 to 4 weeks long. Sprints are used to create a sense of urgency and manage the level of risk associated with development. They are useful to set short-term goals that help teams achieve their long-term mission.
What is a sprint planning meeting?
The sprint planning meeting is a collaborative discussion in which the team determines what they will build, and how they plan to build it. During the meeting the scrum master ensures that all team members have an opportunity to provide input.
This is also when the development team does its best to figure out how long each work item will take to complete so they can determine the ideal number of units for their next sprint.
What should be covered in a sprint planning management meeting?
The sprint planning meeting is a time for collaboration and deciding what you should work on. As such, this meeting is best suited to include all stakeholders to help with the decision-making process. In addition I suggest including the Product Owner, Scrum Master and development team members in order to make sure everyone has a say.
In terms of agendas, I suggest including the following activities:
• Review of sprint goal from last meeting : provide a quick reminder about your primary objective
• Review of product backlog from last meeting : help stakeholders understand how their work items have changed over time and if they were completed, discarded or moved to another sprint. This is also a good time to highlight any changes in priority and dependency
• Creating stories: work collaboratively to define the scope for each story. Limit this to no more than two hours, if necessary break up into multiple sessions
• Sprint review : assess progress against your sprint goal and discuss what you should build next. If needed hold a second session during the next sprint planning meeting, at which you can determine what you should work on in the upcoming sprint.
Who runs the sprint planning meeting?
Ideally the sprint planning meeting is run by the scrum master, though a Product Owner or project manager could run it as well. You can also split up parts of the meeting and have different people responsible for creating stories, defining acceptance criteria and estimating the effort.
How long should a sprint planning meeting be?
Two hours is typically the maximum amount of time you should spend for this meeting. If it goes on much longer than that, teams tend to lose focus and people start to get bored.
The purpose of sprint meetings
Sprint meetings are an opportunity for the stakeholders to understand what is being worked on and should be attended by everyone interested in the project's progress, especially management. These should happen regularly between sprints so as to keep people in sync.
Tips for running effective sprint planning meetings
Sprint planning meetings are a vital part of running an efficient team. Here are some tips for running spring planning meetings that will keep your team on track.
Keep the meeting focused and on topic
If your meeting starts to go off on a tangent let people know so you can come back to it at a later time.
Don't allow interruptions : the most effective way of working together is with everyone focused and able to provide input. Make sure you have all team members' attention before starting the meeting.
When appropriate, include the product owner in creating stories together with development team members.
This will help them better understand their vision, which is key to success.
Limit who can speak during sprint planning meetings
It may be necessary to limit the number of people who can speak or ask questions during your sprint meetings. You might want to make this list explicit so that it's clear who is allowed to speak when.
Remember, these sprint planning meetings are for building a shared understanding and should remain focused on what you're trying to achieve. These meetings are not a place for personal agendas, this isn't the time to air grievances.
Don't plan too far ahead
While it's important to set goals and your strategy for achieving them, you don't want to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve now by spending too much time thinking about what is down the road.
Sprint planning meetings are an opportunity for everyone involved with the sprint to come together and find out what they are trying to build. It is important to have regular sprint planning meetings so that people stay up-to-date, but it's also important not to spend too much time focused on future goals, instead keep your focus on what you're trying to achieve in the sprint.