What is Scrum Capacity?

Capacity represents the amount of work that can be completed within a given time based on the number of hours a team has available.

Scrum Capacity is an estimate of the total amount of development time available for a given Sprint. In other words, Capacity represents the amount of work that can be completed within a given time frame and is based on the number of hours a person or team has available to complete that work.

Having an understanding of Capacity allows the Product Owner and the team to determine the workload they can accept for the next Sprint. This is determined as part of the Sprint Planning Meeting and is sometimes known as “Capacity-based Sprint Planning”. In other words, to commit to a Sprint Goal, it is important to first know the team’s current capacity. Let’s take a closer look at what this looks like in practice next. Note, there are other flavors of sprint planning like “Velocity-based Sprint Planning” and “Commitment-based Sprint Planning”.

How is Scrum Capacity Calculated?

Scrum Capacity is calculated based on the number of team members involved in the sprint, the number of available hours and the number of available days. The following steps can be taken to calculate capacity: 

  1. Calculate team member availability: The first step is to calculate the development hours available. Factors such as whether team members are on leave should be considered here. 
  2. Calculate Sprint duration: It’s important to know the number of days allocated to each Sprint as this will help to understand how much time there is to complete the work. 
  3. Calculate work hours per day: The next step is knowing the number of standard work hours per day. 
  4. Consider other factors: Other availability factors such as annual leave, sick leave, shutdowns and other facts that could impact work hours. 
  5. Identify other work: It’s important to consider projects and priorities that might take team members’ focus away from the current Sprint. 

Calculate focus factor: The final step is to calculate the focus factor. This is the actual percentage of each day that the team can focus on the Spring Goals without interruption.

Advantages of using Scrum Capacity

There are several key advantages to measuring Scrum Capacity in Agile. Quality planning helps teams to accurately commit to and complete tasks among other benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of planning Scrum Capacity: 

Improved resource management.

Scrum Capacity is useful for resource management as it allows visibility and planning in advance of how much time is available in a Sprint. From a resourcing perspective, this is important to understand how many developers are required to complete the work on time. This in turn means the current team isn’t overstretched to complete work.  

Increased team morale. 

Effective Scrum Capacity planning can also help to increase team morale. It means there is transparency and a shared understanding of what is required from the start of the project. This should mean there are no surprises and as covered in the previous point, should eliminate the likelihood of unrealistic workloads. 

Increased trust. 

The conversations which are held as a result of Scrum Capacity planning can help to improve trust and build empathy on both sides. The ability to deliver predictably helps resolve the tension typically seen between the business and development.

The completion time of a project can be estimated.

Scrum Capacity also allows for more effective planning, which means the completion time of a project can be estimated. This can be useful to provide transparency with the various stakeholders involved and to ensure everyone has a realistic understanding of timelines.

Who is Responsible for Scrum Capacity?

Scrum Capacity involves the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and any appropriate Development team members. Learn more about the differences between the Product Owner and Scrum Master here. It would usually involve a Sprint Capacity Planning meeting which is a short meeting and should last no longer than 30 minutes.

Summary

In summary, to commit to a Sprint Goal, it is first important to understand the current team’s capacity. There are several key benefits to Scrum Capacity planning, including both internally to the Scrum team and externally to the stakeholders. This makes Scrum Capacity planning a crucial element of effective Agile.

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