In today’s world, technology changes rapidly, and users have come to expect frequent updates and consistent output from tech and software companies. Understandably, it can be hard to meet these expectations when working on complex new software and technology projects.
Thankfully, sprints and sprint planning meetings can help keep teams using the agile development methodology to stay on track with both internal goals and the expectations of their customers. Here, we’ll cover how to create a sprint planning meeting agenda that will ensure your project is moving in the right direction on the right timeline.
What is a Sprint?
Sprints are part of the popular scrum framework used for project management in agile organizations.
The idea behind a sprint is simple: building software can be complex and take a long time. Not only does this create a risk that team members will get discouraged or lose sight of the end goal, using the traditional waterfall development approach means that important lessons may not be learned until the end of the project — when they’re much more expensive to fix.
Sprints combat this by breaking the marathon of software development into shorter sessions, during which highly targeted and deliberately planned actions are taken. Often, the scrum cycle is broken into five distinct stages (sometimes referred to as ‘ceremonies’):
- Backlog grooming: The product owner organizes the list of feedback and tasks that need to be completed.
- Sprint planning: The team gets together to plan out what tasks from the backlog they will work on in the next sprint.
- Sprint: The team works to accomplish the goals they agreed upon during sprint planning (usually over a set period of time). During the sprint, there will also be daily scrums, which are short meetings used to get everyone organized for the day ahead.
- Sprint review: The team meets to review the work that was actioned during the sprint. For example, the team might try out a demo version of the feature they built together.
- Sprint retrospective: The team meets to discuss what worked and what didn’t during the last sprint.
[design guidance: illustration of the five-stage process - plenty of samples online to draw from for structure]
What is a Sprint Planning Meeting?
A sprint planning meeting is a meeting in where the team decides which tasks (also called ‘user stories’) from the backlog they’ll complete during the next sprint. A typical meeting will cover several different points:
As noted above, at the start of the meeting, the team will review all of the tasks that are yet to be completed in the backlog (which ideally should have been groomed by the project owner before the meeting). This will give the team a better idea of where they stand in terms of project completion, in addition to helping direct the upcoming sprint.
Task/User Story Estimation
Once the team has a solid understanding of what tasks still need to be completed, it estimates how long it will take to finish specific items. These estimations can take the form of numerical ratings or any other rating system the team prefers, such as long, short, and medium designators. All of this should be decided collaboratively in order to ensure the whole team is on the same page regarding how much work is required for each backlog item.
However, it is essential to keep in mind each team member’s past performance when they give their input — if a team member typically works slower or faster than the average, that should be weighed into the final estimations.
After completing their estimations, teams can figure out how many tasks they can reasonably expect to complete within the next sprint. This may be referred to as ‘determining capacity.’
To figure out your team’s capacity, you’ll need to do a bit of math. Luckily, it’s nothing too complex:
- Take the number of hours each team member works
- Multiply it by the number of team members
- Subtract the amount of time that will be tied up in meetings or other activities
- Multiply that number by a productivity coefficient
Let’s take a look at a quick example, setting each hour of work equal to one capacity point.
Imagine that you have ten team members who work eight hours per day. That means that for a one-week sprint, you’ll have 80 hours. However, you also know that everyone attends an hour-long meeting twice a week. That means that each team member loses two hours per week, totaling 16 hours across the entire team. This will give you the team’s ideal capacity of 64 hours.
However, since it’s also unrealistic to expect your team to be 100% productive the entire time they work, you can’t go by this ideal number. Instead, you’ll need to estimate how productive they are on average. If you believe they are 90% productive, then multiply your ideal capacity by 0.90. If you think they’re closer to 80% productive, multiply it by 0.80.
In the end, assuming the team is 80% productive, we’re left with a capacity of 51.2 points.
After determining your team’s overall capacity, identify how many tasks your team can take on and how quickly it can complete them. Again,oth your estimates and your notes regarding past performance can help here.
If you estimated user stories using a numerical scale, you can get a rough idea by adding up several tasks until you get close to your capacity. Just make sure to leave a bit of wiggle room — after all, this is just an estimate.
Sprint Planning Meeting Agenda Template
[design guidance: illustrated agenda showing some/all of the bullet points below]
If you’re trying to create your first sprint planning meeting agenda, the following template can help you turn the steps above into a working template:
- Introduce the team
- Review the purpose of the meeting
- Note any absences
Sprint Goal Setting
- Determine what goals should be met
- Determine the team’s capacity
- Determine the team’s velocity
- Look over the current backlog of user stories to decide on sprint goals
- Estimate the production requirements of each user story
- Check that all team members are clear on what each user story entails
- Clarify any misunderstandings on user stories
- Determine how many user stories can be implemented within the upcoming sprint
- Ensure everyone knows what it means for the user story to be done
Sprint Backlog Verification
- Discuss and identify potential risks
- Discuss a final action plan
- Update your team’s project management tool with the agreed-upon tasks
- Ensure every team member knows what they’re tasked with and that no known blockers exist that might impede their progress
Adapt this sprint planning meeting agenda template for your own needs, and continue to refine it as you execute future sprints. Regularly review the technology used by your team as well.
In addition to your project management tool of choice, solutions like Otter can help by allowing you to record sprint planning meetings. Recordings and automated transcripts can be shared with absent team members or referenced later on if questions arise during the sprint.
To get started, learn more about how Otter Business can support your sprint planning meeting process with live transcription, meeting analytics, and seamless integrations.