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Home Blog IT Project Management Sprint Planning Checklists to Master Your Agile Project’s Delivery

Sprint Planning Checklists to Master Your Agile Project’s Delivery

In Agile projects, teamwork is organized for a maximum of one month, usually two weeks, ahead, in the form of Sprints.

But why?

This is for you to accomplish ready-made parts of your product, called Increments. That lets us deliver you pieces of your product gradually, and systematically.

To do this, work in Scrum should be organized to maintain rhythm. Short delivery cycles of the finished part of your product, well-formulated items and a focused team allow you to maintain a steady pace of work in the project. The Scrum Team is thus more efficient and will help avoid a loss for the business.

That means that your risk is limited to the cost of one calendar month.

Framework Scrum recommends four formal events: 

1. Sprint Planning

The main goal is developing the scope of work to be performed. Sprint Planning is essential to set the pace of work.

2. Daily Scrum

This helps work planning for the next twenty-four hours and provides an assessment of work performed, ensuring productivity. Daily Scrums also support the maintenance of the pace of work.

3. Sprint Review

This represents the inspection of the work done, as well as the presentation of the finished part of the product for the Client.

4. Sprint Retrospective

Consists of the team time to, among other things, inspect the pace of work and plan improvements.

So, the most important thing is to get started well. For this reason, it is worth having a ready checklist.

A checklist is a unique tool, which helps:

  • Improved time management – you need not waste time remembering the steps. Instead, you can devote the entire time towards enhanced work performance.
  • Reducing decision fatigue (difficulty in making the right decision) – you don’t have to remember everything that needs to be done.
  • Eliminating mistakes – following a checklist reduces errors by ensuring thought is put into each step.
  • Ensuring consistency – checklists make certain that the task, process or project will be completed precisely the same way each time.
    Increased effectiveness – checklists reduce errors by clearly laying out exactly what needs to be done so that nothing is missed.

I hope my words have opened you to the prospects of using a checklist. Below, you’ll find my suggestion for Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.

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The Sprint Planning Checklist:

1. Check all team members are present to run the Sprint Planning.

2. Kick-off sprint planning.

What you should know as a Client:

Sprint Planning is time-boxed to a maximum of 8 hours for a one-month Sprint.

This meeting is for your team’s members to plan Items with which they are confident. This way, they can complete during the iteration and identify task details for delivery

The general rule is to plan less and provide more, not the other way around. Because that approach is unlikely to work. Why? Because we want to avoid the situation when a few items are “in progress”. It results in limited possibilities of changing priorities, so as a consequence we won’t have ready Increments. Therefore, it is safer to leave a buffer for various unforeseen situations and choose an additional item during the Sprint.

3. Define the Sprint Goal.

What you should know as a Client:

It’s a high-level summary of the goal you would like to accomplish during a sprint. Elaborated through a specific set of Items.

You can use the template which I found on the Scrum.org website – which I found to be very helpful:

“ Our focus is on [Outcome]
We believe it delivers [Impact] to [Customer]
This will be confirmed when  [Event happens]”

Example:

Our focus is on having ERP software integrated into the Client system.
We believe it delivers new functionalities and increases productivity to the Accounting Department.

This will be confirmed when the employee in the Accounting Department uses the new features and can conserve 50% of their time.

4. Come up with a realistic Sprint Goal (if the team cannot deliver your proposition).

5. Let the team pick the items that are needed to meet your Sprint Goal.

6. Recapitulate each item to make sure everyone understands it in the same way.

What you should know as a Client:

Keep it short. 5 minutes per item maximum! Try to not dive into too much detail (for that you have a daily meeting). Save the team’s time by having a clear work plan for at least the first few days of the Sprint.

Tips for a team to talk about user stories for current Sprint:

  • Is the discussed topic likely to be implemented in the next Sprint?
    If not – let’s arrange another meeting.
  • Does the discussed topic have an impact on work’s engagement?
    If not – move the discussion to later.
  • Does the discussed topic influence whether the task will be in the Sprint?
    If not, let’s keep the discussion to a minimum.
  • What do you think about it?

7. Ask if the sizing of a user story or ticket is right. Ask if your team wants to divide a large item into smaller pieces.

What you should know as a Client:

Let me present you the difference between a split feature and a substantial undivided feature. When we split our work, it doesn’t mean that we have less work. But we trick our minds, to a certain degree.

The brain is prone to short-term actions. By breaking the vast goal into short-term goals, you focus on the nearest achievements and avoid being overwhelmed by the size of the task. Unambiguously defining a small goal makes it easier to achieve because the brain is value-oriented. 

8. Ask about estimation.

What you should know as a Client:

Although everyone has a vote or voice. Remember that your team has the final say when it comes to estimating work because it’s your team who deliver the Increment.

9. Ask your team if they have slack time to resolve unexpected issues.

10. Set up times and dates for subsequent Scrum meetings.

11. Determine how you intend to communicate in tasks.

12. Check the availability of all members of the development team. If there are holidays in the Sprint, you should plan the mode of passing information/tasks.

The Daily Scrum:

1. What did you do yesterday that helped us meet the Sprint Goal?

2. What will you do today to help us meet the Sprint Goal?

3. Do you see any impediment that prevents us from meeting the Sprint Goal?

What you should know as a Client:

There are “traditional” Scrum questions. The main point is to make an update and maintain the pace of work.

The Sprint Review Checklist:

1. Clean up the board, engage the whole team.

2. Create a subsequent Sprint Backlog in the project management tool.

3. Check the statuses of each ticket, move tickets if necessary (focus on moving tickets to be done, and to next Sprint Backlog or to Product Backlog).

4. Run the sprint review. Talk about your work. Close the previous Sprint: Did the team meet the sprint goal? Summarize the results of the sprint review.

What you should know as a Client:

During the Sprint Review, you should check ready Increments. Unfinished work can (optionally) be an input to a new/next Sprint Backlog. This all depends on you and your priorities.

The Sprint Retrospective Checklist:

1. Discuss what went well – most significant achievement within the Sprint.

2. Discuss what didn’t go well – biggest failure within the Sprint.

3. Discuss what to improve, and ideas for future improvement – lessons from the Sprint.

4. Summarize the results from the evaluation. Review velocity chart.

5. Are any team members worthy of recognition?

6. Update the board with at least one work improvement resolution.

Better Organize Your Sprints

To summarize, Sprint Planning is a forecast. The most important item is to create a real Sprint Plan, which can be provided by your team and maintain the rhythm of work.

During Daily Scrums, all of your team should also consistently identify any impediments preventing them from completing their work (if there are any of course).

Sprint Review is for verifying the team’s work progress. While a Sprint Retrospective is for a team’s way of work improvement.

I hope that this checklists will help you achieve your goals!

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I am a French language speaking Project Manager and certified Scrum Master. I am responsible for the effectiveness of the project implementation and an internal organization of work. Before joining the IT industry, I worked in the fashion industry.