What Are Sprint Plans? Definition, Process, and Benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 1, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sprint plans are events that occur inside a scrum framework. Scrum is a project management methodology that focuses on balancing and maintaining complex projects, particularly those involving many different deliverables. The main purpose of sprint planning is to outline the development goals for the sprint and to create a clear timeline for these goals. In this article, we explore what sprint plans are, ways to use sprint planning, the five key components, some of the benefits and how to prepare a sprint planning meeting.

What are sprint plans?

Sprint plans are a project management technique that is part of the scrum project management methodology. Scrum masters, team support managers with knowledge of scrum and agile project management methodologies, plan work for a team to complete by the end of a sprint. Developers and managers choose the goals for a sprint, which usually lasts one to two weeks, depending on the nature of the project. During sprint planning, the development team and product owners share information, requirements and timelines, indicating how long they expect the project to take.

Uses for sprint planning

Sprint planning meetings carry many different uses for technology companies. Scrum masters typically conduct these meetings to encourage collaboration and support within the team to expedite everyone's individual tasks and deliver a finished product. Competent sprint planning enables product owners and developers to communicate clearly about timelines for the completion of a project. It also encourages them to talk about new product details, challenges, or changes with the development team. Other benefits of conducting sprint planning meetings may include:

  • Determining reasonable goals

  • Reviewing the necessary tasks

  • Constructing a timeline to present to owners and managers

  • Creating deadlines and ensuring they are met

  • Establishing communication channels and facilitating teamwork

Related: Differences Between Software Engineer vs. Software Developer

What is the sprint planning process?

The sprint planning framework consists of five components. Here are the five sprint planning components in order of procedure:

The what

The product owner details the goal of the sprint and the deliverables necessary to meet to reach that goal. The product owner allocates a finite number of resources to accomplish this goal. The scrum team meets to plan what they want to accomplish in the sprint and to allocate roles to help ensure they meet the delivery time.

The how

The team meets to discuss the types of tasks they want to accomplish to deliver the goal. The sprint plan is a collaboration between the development team and product owner based on the time and resources available to complete a project.

The who

Successful sprint planning relies upon the development team and project manager being key participants in the meetings. The product owner defines the goal-based specifications and the utility of the product they want to sell. For the development team to build the product, it's useful if they understand the tasks to complete and any other specialty personnel they might require. Having both parties as active participants in these meetings makes planning a sprint easier and more efficient.

The inputs

The development team might look at a similar product's backlog to identify design or coding aspects that they can use to help them construct unique designs for a current project. They may also decide to do external research on similar products to identify shortcomings that they can improve on.

The outputs

A key goal for a sprint planning meeting is that the team can describe in detail who is to complete which tasks and the timeframe in which they're going to do this. It's useful to make the sprint plan available for team members and leaders to access in the backlog. The backlog is a list of functions the finished product is to have.

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Benefits of sprint plans

Sprint plans are helpful in many different facets of development, production, and creation. When sprint planning meetings are successful, they can provide several benefits including:

  • Developers have greater autonomy. Sprint planning meetings give the developer team the opportunity to share their thoughts on how long a project may take and allow them to choose how much work they can complete within a sprint. This can result in more independence and may also encourage them to feel a greater sense of satisfaction when completing tasks.

  • Collaboration is encouraged. Sprint planning is a collaborative endeavour in which the development team and product owners work together to discuss everything that goes into creating a successful project. These meetings encourage collaborative working and provide an opportunity to share ideas in a safe environment. This may encourage developers who are come across challenges with a certain task to seek help from other members of the project team.

  • Greater stability in the office. A sprint planning meeting can provide guidance in establishing goals that a team can work toward within a set amount of time. This can result in workload feeling more pleasant and manageable. When members of a software development team understand the expectations and timelines for tasks, they can better plan and structure their time to meet these goals.

  • Progress toward goals is trackable. Sprint goals allow managers to collect and share useful information with managers of adjacent teams who may want to view their progress toward the finished product. Tracking how team members complete their tasks inside the sprint might help managers think about the information they may want to include in performance reviews, which also allows them to look for areas of improvement.

  • Product owners can be a fluid part of the process. Product owners can derive helpful information from sprint planning meetings because they're able to see exactly what the team is doing and when. This allows them to raise any concerns about a project's status for the developer team to investigate. This is particularly useful for busy product owners, as they get a chance to speak with all members of the development team at the same time. This allows them to share their opinions, perspectives and suggestions on specifications, timelines, and any other concerns they may have.

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How to prepare for a sprint planning meeting

Understanding the needs of every member of the development team is an integral part of preparing for a sprint planning meeting. This can help to identify ways to increase productivity and improve efficiency in areas such as resource allotment, budget, and labour. Here are a few steps each person can take to prepare depending on their role in the project:

Scrum master

A scrum master is responsible for the smooth running of each sprint planning meeting. The aim is to make successful decisions and create meaningful and achievable goals for the development team. To ensure all sprint planning meeting attendees benefit from the meeting, a scrum master may wish to consider these preparation tips:

  • Know the product and establish the requirements as outlined by the product owner.

  • Ensure the sprint backlog of incomplete projects is reviewed and logged.

  • Ensure important ideas and points of discussion are organized prior to the meeting.

  • Briefly outline the upcoming sprint with the development team before the meeting.

  • Brainstorm ways to improve on past sprints and implement suggestions.

  • Schedule the meeting at a time when everyone of relevance can attend.

Product owner

Fully understanding the concerns of customers and shareholders may help a team to set achievable goals. Product owners can be valuable sources of that information. Encourage product owners to consider the key elements of sprint planning by working through these steps:

  1. Prioritize tasks in the sprint backlog.

  2. Identify the most important and time-sensitive features.

  3. Identify and prioritize the highest-value concerns or suggestions first.

  4. Meet with patrons and shareholders for more input on specific deliverables.

  5. Review the requirements for the complete project to ensure they're manageable.

  6. Clarify concerns with buyers, shareholders, and scrum masters.

Developer team

It can be a good idea for a scrum master to meet with the development team prior to sprint planning. This can be an opportunity to address any individual concerns and to reassure them about the upcoming sprint. A manager might suggest the development team follow these steps to help them prepare:

  1. Determine and review their workload.

  2. Determine individuals and assign tasks accordingly for the project.

  3. Evaluate and implement a reasonable timeline for the completion of tasks.

  4. Review the sprint backlog and the finished and unfinished tasks.

  5. Prepare questions for the owner of the product.

  6. Examine how previous sprints reached their goals and consider implementing those strategies.

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