What is a Scrum Sprint?

The Scrum Sprint is a short, time-boxed period where a Scrum Team works to complete an agreed amount of features.

The Scrum Sprint is a short, time-boxed period where a Scrum Team works to complete an agreed amount of features. These are organised in Product Backlog Items. The Sprint is at the core of Scrum, where ideas are turned into value. 

Sprints are a fixed length of one month or less and one will start immediately after the conclusion of a previous Sprint. They can be considered a way to break the project down into smaller manageable iterations. Understanding Sprints and getting them right will not only help the efficiency of the team but also the outcome of a project.

The Scrum Sprint Cycle

The Sprint includes several stages which together make up a full Scrum Sprint Cycle. This includes planning, executing and reviewing the work, right through to the Sprint Retrospective. In this section, we’ll take a look at each of these stages in more detail.

Planning Stage

The first stage of the Scrum Sprint Cycle is Sprint Planning. This is where the team decides which backlog items should be prioritised for this Sprint and shares their capacity. It is also during this stage that the Sprint Goal is defined. The plan is organised in what we call the Sprint Backlog.

Executing and Implementing Stage

During this stage, the team follows the Sprint Backlog and works to complete a Product Increment. The team holds a 15-minute Daily Scrum meeting to ensure alignment and progress during this stage.

Sprint Review and test

At the end of each Sprint, the team including the Product Owner and stakeholders hold a Sprint Review Meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to demonstrate if the Product Increment holds up, or in other words, whether it meets expectations. To ensure a completed Product Increment and demo, the team must of course have tested the Product Increment prior to the Sprint Review meeting.

If the product does hold up, it should then be considered done. However, if there is any feedback or changes then it will be added back to the Product Backlog to be amended in the next or a following Sprint.

Sprint Retrospect

In this stage, the Scrum team including the Product Owner, Scrum Master and Developers hold a Sprint Retrospect Meeting. During this meeting, the team should discuss what was a success and where there is room for improvement in the Sprint process.  

Following the above framework of the Scrum Sprint Cycle provides invaluable opportunities and benefits which we will explore in the next section.

If the product does hold up, it should then be considered done. However, if there is any feedback or changes then it will be added back to the Product Backlog to be amended in the next or a following Sprint.

Importance of Scrum Sprints

Well managed Scrum Sprints provide many benefits and improve the outcome of the Sprint.  Below we have outlined just some of the main reasons that efficient Scrum Sprints are important. 

  • Clearly Defined Goals 

Each Sprint interval has clearly defined goals that the team establishes in the Sprint Planning meeting. Setting these goals and making them realistic is an essential part of the process and gives the team something to collaboratively work towards.

  • Increased Productivity 

The Scrum Sprint process helps to increase the productivity of the team and enables continuous improvement. With a successful Sprint process, the team can focus on the high-value and high-priority tasks and features. 

  • Team Collaboration 

Scrum Sprints encourage team collaboration throughout the cycle. This is beneficial for communication, feedback and sharing knowledge and skills. The team can come together to solve problems, which in turn helps them to meet deadlines throughout the project. Teams collaborate best if we have invested in teambuilding and focus on keeping the team stable and together for a long time.

  • Flexibility 

Working in Sprints enables teams to adapt and respond to change based on stakeholder feedback and ever-evolving priorities. Scrum framework requires flexibility to ensure teams are not overly rigid to be able to respond to change as and when feedback is given.

What to do before your first Scrum Sprint

The Scrum Sprint Cycle can be challenging if the process is not managed well. Let’s take a look at the steps that are necessary to make the process a success before getting started.

Step 1) Envision what you want to achieve on the long run

Scrum success is based on high-performing teams that are motivated, empowered to make decisions and getting the right stuff done. To do that, a Product Vision needs to be brief and clearly defined. Product Goals that you want to reach along the way must also be defined. Communicating this to the team helps them to understand what should be achieved and enables them to make decisions along the way. A draft Product Backlog should also be prepared as part of these activities.

Step 2) Prioritise the Backlog

The Product Backlog should be clear and up-to-date. This includes collaborating with stakeholders to add, review, and prioritise items. Working closely with clients, internal users, and other stakeholders are required to determine which features are the most important.

Step 3) Plan a Realistic Increment Based on Capacity

The Scrum Team needs to be clear about their capacity and shouldn’t commit to more than they can complete during each Sprint. The Sprint is more effective when achievable goals are set and the focus is kept narrow.

Step 4) Apply Agile Scrum Principles and Practices

Agile Scrum principles and values act as an important guideline for Sprints and they help to ensure each Sprint produces the best possible product. The Scrum Master is responsible for helping to facilitate the effective execution of the Scrum framework. They should mentor, coach and guide the rest of the team in navigating the challenges of Scrum. When the team applies the right principles, they face fewer obstacles and work at their best capacity.

Summary

In Agile methodology is it important for teams to collaborate, prioritise and deliver work efficiently. Understanding exactly how Scrum Sprints work is therefore crucial to ensure their success.

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