A really useful sprint planning agenda!

The first sprint planning meeting for a team new to Scrum can be challenging. There is bound to be lots of questions from people, and perhaps uncertainty about what to expect or is expected, especially at the beginning of the meeting. Therefore it is important to deliver the meeting with conviction and confidence, but also get out of it what you need in order to set the team up for a great sprint.

If you are a ScrumMaster about to facilitate a team’s first sprint planning meeting, here is a good agenda to follow to make sure you cover everything in the timebox (Note: I always hold a Backlog Refinement meeting in advance so the team are already familiar with the stories…this really cuts down time needed in Sprint Planning).

1. Write out the agenda on a separate board or flip chart page. Tear it off and stick it to the wall. Tick off items as you go through them. This will help your team stay focused, and know where they are during what can be a long meeting for them.

2. Establish whether there is any leave coming up within the team

  • This will help you plan your capacity. Out of a 7.5 hour working day, I estimate each person to have a capacity of 5 productive hours. If your task’s cumulative estimates end up exceeding your capacity, you can address the impact and even remove stories if necessary.

3. Explain what a sprint planning meeting is and what it is for

  • You should have done some basic scrum training with your teams, but I find ‘setting the scene’ this way gives your team confidence that you know what you are doing and why. It also discourages the team from questioning why they all have to sit through it all in the first place (even if you do but them cookies and donuts)!

4. Explain story points as a measure of complexity, and introduce planning poker

  • Explain very clearly how points is a measure of complexity, NOT a relative measure of time (i.e. 3pts=1day). They need to be clear on this in order to understand the concept of Planning Poker

5. Play planning poker on previous stories using the a consistent scale (e.g. Fibonacci)

  • The team can then refer to these stories as a reference for when they play planning poker on their new stories.
  • Choose a few examples of previous stories the team are very familiar with working on. The examples should include a very easy story e.g. 1 or 2 points, a mid range story of about 8 points and a larger story, perhaps around 20 or 30 points. This way, when the team use the examples as a reference you can help them by asking whether a new story they are trying to estimate is more or less complex than the (X point) example
  • Use the same scale for every sprint planning meeting
  • When the team have found a fitting example, write the story name on a board or flip chart.

6. Discuss the next sprint stories one by one and play planning poker on them
7. Go through the stories and assign tasks

8. Go back to the story points and ask whether the team feel their original estimates are still accurate

9. Commit to sprint goal(s)

  • Write down the sprint goal(s), then read it out. Keep altering the wording until everyone agrees with it (including the Product Owner…very important!) as subtle changes make a difference

The Agenda in a nutshell:

1. Write out the agenda on a separate board or flip chart page. Tear it off and stick it to the wall with blu tack (tick off as you go through them)

2. Establish whether there is any leave coming up within the team

3. Explain what a sprint planning meeting is and what it is for

4. Explain story points as a measure of complexity, and introduce planning poker

5. Play planning poker on previous stories using the a consistent scale (e.g. Fibonacci)

6. Discuss the next sprint stories one by one and play planning poker on them

7. Go through the stories and assign tasks

8. Go back to the story points and ask whether the team feel their original estimates are still accurate

9. Commit to sprint goal(s)

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