June 22, 2020

Sprint Planning Types

What is sprint planning?

More and more teams in the field of IT and not only, prefer to conduct projects based on Agile and SCRUM methodologies. One of the most important parts of these methodologies is sprint planning, which includes time assessment, priority analysis, and at this stage, preliminary distribution of tasks in the development team is possible.

Sprint planning is a meeting at which the Team and Project Manager, either the SCRUM master or the Product Owner (everyone can attend) discuss and decide what work will be completed in the sprint. Sprint is a time period lasting a month or less during which a finished product is created.

What are the approaches to sprint planning?

Perhaps some teams have their own rules and their own approach to planning, but nevertheless I want to talk about the following approaches:

- Speed-based sprint planning.

- Power-based sprint planning.

We will analyze in more detail.

Speed-based sprint planning​ is simple and concise in description. Going to planning, the team determines the amount of work, which will be approximately equal to how much the team did in previous sprints. This option is suitable if the team has the same amount of work from sprint to sprint. The team knows in advance the size of the sprint, and it usually does not change, even if risk factors are taken into account.

How to build a process?

1. Determine the average team speed. Some teams prefer to take the speed of the last sprint as a basis, but it is better to analyze the previous 3-6 sprints. 2. Select not completed tasks equal to this speed. As soon as the team can add up their average speed, sprint planning is considered complete. That’s It!

But some go further

3. Define the tasks. The team defines each task that was chosen for the sprint; they disassemble it in detail in order to try to take into account as many points as possible. After identifying most of the tasks, the team decides whether the sprint is completed. They may conclude that the sprint is not full enough or over filled, and add or remove tasks that need to be done.

4. Evaluate the tasks and see if the amount of work matches past sprints. Having a list of tasks, some teams decide to continue planning and evaluate these tasks over the hours to determine if they have chosen the right amount of work. After that, sprint planning is considered complete.

Power-based sprint planning ​is a more rigorous approach. This is usually where the Product Owner, Scrum Master and all members of the development team are present at the planning stage. Typically, the product owner presents a priority unperformed work at a meeting and describes the details to the team. After that, the team members divide the high priority work into tasks and approximately estimate the execution time of each task. Estimates do not have to be accurate. It is more important for the team to think about a sufficient number of tasks that they thought during the work. It is important to understand that thinking through the details of the work is the real purpose of the meeting.

After they have determined the tasks and estimated the number of hours approximately, the team members ask themselves: “Can we complete this?” If someone cannot complete the task, team members usually discuss the situation and see how they can help and solve the problem. If it is not possible to solve this problem, then perhaps it is necessary to divide it, or move it to the backlog (until they find a solution) and choose another task that the team can solve in the current conditions.

It is also necessary to define a reserve for unplanned tasks and risks. On average, this is 20-30% of the team's power. The process of analyzing tasks takes place until the team decides that it is guaranteed to fulfill all the commitments made for the sprint and can deliver the finished product.

So what to choose?

In speed-based sprint planning, the team selects a set of unexecuted tasks whose high-level scores are equal to their average speed. This method is suitable for a stable team that has experience in evaluating its speed in completing tasks. But one of the drawbacks is that the speed is too variable to be reliable for short-term projects. Speed is great for long-term planning. Another drawback is the time reference, which usually leads to the fact that teams sometimes do less than they could. It can also lead to the fact that the teams sometimes do more. But usually experience shows that teams are more likely to abandon one or two elements.

In power-based sprint planning, it is the selection of one element of an unfinished product that is divided and evaluated in detail by the team, then the divided element is

included in the sprint. This method is great for a team that is new to Scrum or for short-term projects. It is also suitable for other types of projects, as it helps to reduce the execution of unnecessary work and is likely to finish work on time.