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December 17, 2020

How to run a sprint planning meeting

by Louise Cunnah posted in Ayoa, Quick Tips.

Ayoa | How to run a sprint planning meeting
Most of us begrudge having meetings for the sake of meetings when we’re busy working on a range of tasks with near-approaching deadlines. Working on a sprint should be an exciting, fast-paced experience as the intention of this type of project is to achieve as much as possible in a short timeframe, so how can you ensure you plan yours effectively from the get-go?

For those unfamiliar with the term, a ‘sprint’ is a popular style of working that’s commonly used by agile teams – those that have increased flexibility over when and where they work and will quickly adapt their focuses based on changing conditions, such as the needs of their customers and wider business. Often, they don’t have concrete aims or targets; instead, these will evolve as their focuses do.

A sprint can help agile workers to achieve this flexibility because this type of project involves working on a set of tasks in a short, timeboxed period (typically around 2 weeks). Although sprints tend to be favored by development teams (who are more likely to adopt an agile way of working), they can be beneficial for any team that wants to increase their efficiency and achieve ‘quick wins’.

What is a sprint planning meeting?

Like any project, sprints involve careful planning to ensure that the right tasks are being done by the right people, and that there is enough time available for these priorities to be completed. In fact, this is vital for any shorter, more intense project – not just sprints.

Though any type of team can benefit from organizing sprints, specific roles should be assigned to those involved to keep things running as smoothly as possible:

Although every project needs to be properly organized to ensure maximum efficiency from the get-go, the point of a sprint is to get work done fast and achieve results as quickly as possible – so you don’t want to lose time in the planning process. Check out our top tips for organizing an effective sprint planning meeting below…

Tips for running a sprint planning meeting

1. Define your sprint’s goals

This is a short statement (typically around 1-2 sentences long) that is put together by the entire team to clarify what they are going to complete during the sprint and what the timeframe of the project will be. This should be easily accessed by everyone involved, so they can refer back to it to ensure that they’re staying on track. It will also help you to determine whether the project has been successful.

Tip: In Ayoa, we have a free Meeting Notes template where you can quickly and easily record your sprint’s goal, as well as the meeting’s agenda, discussion points, and any tasks you decide to action after the session.

2. Decide what tasks will be done

At the start of the meeting, you should already have a backlog of tasks that the Product Owner has prepared in advance. During the planning meeting, they should run through the backlog of tasks one by one, so the ScrumTeam can clarify which ones they want to prioritize and commit to completing over the course of the sprint.

Tip: Did you know that you can use Ayoa to simplify this process of elimination? Our Kanban Board template for task boards has a dedicated section for you to list the tasks in your backlog, with status columns for you to move them into if you decide to action them. To use this template, create your free Ayoa account, then select ‘create task board’ from the app’s homepage. You can then choose ‘Kanban Board’ from the template library.

3. Estimate the time you need

Before you go into your sprint planning meeting, the ScrumMaster should already have an idea of how long they want the sprint to be. However, you still need to determine whether you will have enough time to complete your chosen tasks in the sprint based on the amount of time that the ScrumTeam has available to them.

Remember, as sprints are short, intensive projects with a clearly defined end date, they should be run alongside your team’s day-to-day tasks and shouldn’t be a replacement for them. For this reason, available time should be calculated by looking at the hours available in your working day, as well as the amount of time the ScrumTeam’s general responsibilities (including admin tasks) take to carry out in a typical week. For the best results, try to avoid running a sprint alongside another project that needs a substantial amount of time dedicated to it.

It’s important to remember that although a certain amount of pressure can help employees to work more efficiently, juggling too many plates at once will stop us in our tracks as we become overwhelmed and struggle to decide which tasks to prioritize over others. Factoring in enough time to focus on the sprint around the team’s other day-to-day responsibilities will ensure that the quality of work completed remains high and that no plates get dropped.

4. Assign tasks to team members

Now that you know what priorities you want to focus on during your sprint, it’s time to determine who will be completing each task. Although the team leader may want to go ahead and assign tasks to the members of the ScrumTeam, this should be a group effort. Everyone involved in the sprint should be involved in the process of delegating tasks, so it should be left up to members of the ScrumTeam to volunteer to take up tasks based on factors such as their skills, role within the team and the amount of time they have available to work on these tasks.

If any tasks are left without volunteers, everyone involved in the meeting should work together to determine who will be best suited to completing them.

Tip: Already created a task board for your sprint? Invite everyone involved in the meeting to the board, then delegate tasks to them directly in Ayoa and set dedicated start and due dates. They can then use the visual progress indicators and task comments to keep everyone involved in the project up-to-date with their progress.

5. Plan a follow-up meeting

After your initial sprint planning meeting, the ScrumTeam should have all the information they need to start working on the tasks they have committed to completing. The ScrumMaster should then check in with them throughout the duration of the sprint to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that the goal you originally identified will be met in the desired timeframe. Plan a meeting when the project has been completed to review your success and identify any changes you can make to improve the running of future sprints.

Want to adopt an agile way of working and incorporate sprints into your team’s projects? Ayoa offers a range of features to help remote and distributed teams stay connected as they work flexibly, such as collaborative whiteboards, task boards and mind maps, video conferencing, instant messaging, user statuses, and the team pulse dashboard. View our pricing plans to find the best option for you and your team!

Louise Cunnah

Louise Cunnah has always had a passion for the written word, leading to her studying English, Media and Journalism at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Since graduating in 2014, she has held a number of different roles in marketing, both agency-side and in-house for brands like Ayoa. She loves taking on a challenge and has written content on a diverse range of subjects over the years, including horticulture, business management, telecommunications, health and safety, productivity, neurodiversity, and personal finance (to name but a few!).

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