Key tips for effective Sprint Planning

  • Posted on February 10, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
effective sprint planning

Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Do the Sprint Planning meetings for your Scrum Team constantly run over time? Even worse, do team members not have clear business objectives of the work they will be doing? Does everyone seem puzzled and confused after Sprint Planning meetings?

Whether you’re part of a Scrum Team, a business leader or a user of the product being developed and sustained, poor Sprint Planning negatively affects everyone if the team is not highly focused during Sprint Planning meeting. Everyone should know:

  • what can be delivered in the Increment (of the upcoming Sprint)
  • how the work needed will be achieved


The Scrum Team, which consists of the roles of Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team, MUST be empowered and make decisions to deliver the best possible business value and be accountable for self-organizing themselves.

Business leaders and end users, I encourage you to think of your role in Scrum as enablers, influencers and people who create environments for Scrum Team to become successful. Even mature Scrum Team members need business leadership, feedback from the users and empowerment for continuous improvement so they can continue delivering value and sustain quality product indefinitely.

The Scrum Framework prescribes key accountability for Scrum Team members.

effective sprint planning

1) Determine what can be delivered
In order to maximize the value delivered, the Scrum Team must consider output of the previous Sprint, including the feedback received from the attendees.

  • Product Owner: (Re)define “what” would maximize the value by updating the Product Backlog. The following checklist may help:
  • Have you updated existing Product Backlog items?
  • How about removing items from the Product Backlog that are not necessary anymore?
  • Have any new Product Backlog items been added?
  • Was there any challenge in the understanding of backlog items in the previous Sprint(s)?
  • Can requirements be expressed more transparently in backlog items for the development team to be able to implement ‘done’ increment?
  • Development Team: Determine which Product Backlog items can be developed in upcoming Sprint meeting with the quality as defined in Definition of Done.
  • Know your team capacity and past performance.
  • Be aware of complexity, un-certainty and dependency of Product Backlog items in relation to each other.
  • Scrum Master: Facilitate conversations and keep everyone engaged and focused.
  • Ensure that Product Owner is empowered to decide what maximizes the value
  • Development Team is empowered and self-organized to decide what they can develop with meeting quality defined by Definition of Done.


2) Determine how the work needed will be achieved

  • Product Owner: Be willing to answer questions from the Development Team. YOU need to ensure that the Development Team understands the business requirements defined in the Product Backlog. Trust them on their judgement on how and how much can be delivered with quality.
  • Development Team: You are accountable for quality of the product.
  • Ask Product Owner for any clarification you need on Product Backlog items.
  • Have you validated the estimates of Product Backlog items you’re considering for development?
  • Any dependency on other teams or groups?
  • Collaborate with the Product Owner to craft Sprint Goal. That is what defines value to the users of the product.
  • Don’t forget action for improvement that the Scrum Team should have identified during the retrospective meeting. It should be apparent in Sprint Backlog how you’re going to act on it.
  • Scrum Master: Ensure that the Development Team is empowered and self-organized to determine “how”.



Implementing these easy tips will help all Agile teams be more effective in their Sprint Planning sessions. Do you have other tips? I’d like to hear them so drop a comment below.

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