Just like backlog management, sprints management is the responsibility of the Product Manager. Only the Product Manager must make changes to a sprint. If the developers need to change the sprint plan, it must be done with the Product Manager’s approval.
We operate with 1-week or 2-weeks sprints depending on the project and its maturity.
We are also opinionated regarding the sprints schedule.
- Sprints start on Monday and end on Friday. Not matching calendar weeks tends to lead to more unfinished work as there is no sense of urgency before the weekend.
- Sprint planning happens on the morning of the first Monday of the sprint.
- There are no meetings with the development team on the last Friday of the sprint (e.g., no retrospective).
- The release for a completed sprint is done on the first Monday of the following sprint. We don’t release on Fridays in the eventuality that a bug makes its way to production, and there would be nobody available to fix it over the weekend.
The sprint planning meeting occurs once per sprint. It should always happen on the same day of the week as it helps to make it a habit.
Sprint planning is also very opinionated. There are a lot of Agile processes and tools that can be used during sprint planning (such as Planning Poker). However, sprint planning sessions at Nimble are kept very simple and short.
For effective sprint planning meetings, the following activities must be concluded before the session commences:
- The Product Manager must prepare a sprint backlog with all the user stories the development team will work on during the sprint.
- All the user stories selected for the sprint must be estimated.
- Issues and blockers should be addressed before the meeting. (Assess whether or not the feature can still be part of the sprint).
There are four main goals of the sprint planning session:
- Set the sprint goal.
- Review the upcoming sprint’s content.
- Get the whole team’s buy-in for the contents of the sprint.
- Verify that all the user stories are explicit.
- Go through any questions that might remain.
The sprint planning session should be run with the whole development team and the Product Manager. No external stakeholder is invited to this session. The Product Manager updates the external stakeholders and works on the planning with them during the sprint review session.
Given that the Product Manager has prepared the sprint before the sprint planning session, sprint planning can be kept short. For a 2-weeks sprint, the sprint planning session should last for 30 minutes to 1 hour.