Everything You Need to Know About Sprint Planning

By Gowtham Raj on July 26th, 2019

Mobile apps are predicted to generate approximately $89 billion by 2020 through in-app advertising and app stores. Do you know why sprint planning is essential to the development of a stable app?

Development of apps is a tedious and complicated process, but an excellent sprint plan makes everything easy! Here is everything you need to know about sprint planning in app development.

The Basics

Markets, environments, and technologies become complicated daily, leading to improved interactions which are good but at the same time challenging. The best way of dealing with such complexity is by developing agile methodologies. A sprint planning meeting is a crucial stage in the app development process that shouldn’t be overlooked because it determines the outcome of the entire process.

It is also essential to create a scrum framework which comprises these components:

  • Sprints
  • Three roles: The scrum team, scrum product owner, and the scrum master
  • Scrum events: daily scrum meetings, sprint retrospective meeting, sprint planning meeting, and sprint review meeting

All scrum events minimize the need for unnecessary meetings and create regularity in sprint planning. All events must have a fixed duration to avoid delays resulting from time wastage. Each sprint has a fixed period that’s unchangeable.

Team Capacity

Before any activity begins, including planning, stakeholders should know the capacity of available resources. Team capacity plays a key role in affecting how operations are conducted and the time taken. However, the total capacity may vary from sprint to sprint.

Before taking steps and making commitments, it is advisable to determine the total capacity for all sprints. Anything that may affect team capacity, such as public holidays, the time needed for various activities, vacations, and scrum meetings should be taken into consideration.

Sprint Planning Meeting

Essential product features are first selected at the beginning of the sprint planning meeting. During this stage, the product owner must present everything needed by the development team. This first step ensures that:

  • An acceptance criterion is stated for all users
  • The development team defines the sprint goal
  • The Definition of Done ‘DoD’ is understood by the entire team

These three factors determine the success of a sprint. As a result, the development team is expected to develop user stories and get a deep understanding of the product vision to fulfill project goals.

The time allocated to sprint planning varies. For instance, sprints that run for a month in most cases have a sprint planning meeting that runs for 8 hours. Events are short for sprints running for less than a month.

The scrum master is responsible for carrying out the sprint planning meeting as well as ensuring that parties involved understand the purpose and participate in all activities. The scrum master leads the scrum team in defining team capacity and spring goals to make sure that everyone respects time.

Once the team reaches a consensus about the period of a sprint, all future sprints are set the same. Traditionally, sprints last 30 days.

Once the sprint starts, the product owner steps back to allow the development team to carry on. As the sprint continues, the team holds stand up meetings on a daily basis to brainstorm solutions to problems and discuss the progress. The project owner is allowed to attend stand up conferences but doesn’t participate.

During sprints, the project owner isn’t allowed to make any requests. The only individual who can stop or interrupt the sprint is the project manager or scrum master.

Understanding the Sprint Goal

The Scrum product owner defines the sprint goal. The sprint goal precisely describes the outcome of the entire project. The goal should be comprehensive for parties involved and realistic as well.

Sprint goals are set to report people who aren’t directly involved in the process. The sprint goal as well allows stakeholders to know the work progress and team activities.

A functional sprint goal:

  • Delivers features, addresses risks, and helps in testing assumptions
  • Allows the development team to inspect progress
  • Guides the entire team
  • Supports in setting priorities
  • Assists the project owner to create the product roadmap
  • Fosters teambuilding
  • Can be used as a tool for stakeholder management
  • Ensures effective decision making

What and How Does Sprint Planning Help?

Sprint planning answers two main questions:

  • What will the sprint achieve?
  • How will we do it?

What will the sprint achieve?

Sprint planning predicts the development process of the sprint. The project owner discusses product backlog items and objectives only when completed in the sprint. For this to work simultaneously, the scrum team should fully understand the purpose of the sprint.

The inputs to the sprint meeting are the latest product increments, past performance of the team, product backlog, and projected capacity. Additionally, the development team should decide which items to select from the product backlog. The team also assesses what to accomplish in subsequent sprints.

How will we do it?

The ‘how’ part addresses tasks such as documentation-activities, implementation, and design. It also includes estimating the time needed to complete the identified tasks. The product owner is allowed to make trade-offs and clarify the chosen product backlog items.

Depending on the workload, the app development team may request the product owner to revise product backlog items. In case domain or technical help is needed, the team may ask experts in relevant fields to join their meetings.

A complete sprint planning should provide the information needed by the development team to help members understand how they will work as an independent team to achieve the sprint goal.

Sprint Backlog

It refers to a notebook updated daily. Every activity conducted is recorded here. Examples of activities recorded include new tasks added during a sprint, commencement of new operations, and the team members involved.

The sprint backlog is helpful in the planning process because it defines the workload left. Only a member of the development team is allowed to remove unnecessary components of the plan or add new tasks to it. Changing the sprint backlog attracts further re-evaluation by the entire team.

Sprint planning is easier than most people think. With this simple guide, there is no doubt that you’ll develop a stable app. Contact us today if you need any information on building apps.

By Gowtham Raj

July 26th, 2019