And now Sprint Planning

The next step for the Agile team is to have a Sprint Planning meeting.  The outcome of this meeting should be a prioritized list of items or a Sprint Backlog.  This Sprint Backlog has the user stories ranked in their order of importance.  Since we have already estimated the items in our Backlog Grooming we know roughly how hard the features are.  This planning process will take some time to get the whole team to agree what can be accomplished during the Sprint.  The Scrum Master will facilitate this meeting with Product Owner available to answer user story or priority questions along with the entire Agile team.

Our first few Sprint Planning meetings were a bit confusing as we did not know our team velocity.  This is amount of points a team can accomplish per Sprint.  When you first start you have to make a guess.  Working on HealthCallings.com we took input from the Dice.com team as they went through a similar transition a few months before us.  To get a good reading on your team velocity takes a few Sprints to know what it is.  We also made a few mistakes by not looking at the vacation calendar.  We had a Sprint where one of our Testers was out and we didn’t factor that into our Sprint estimate.  We of course missed our target.

The condition of the product backlog has a direct impact on your ability to plan the Sprint.   If it is not constantly being feed new items that are groomed and finalized your Sprint planning loses its impact.  Also the business conditions may have an impact too.  If the business is under a constant state of change it can be hard to plan the Sprint and complete the tasks.

When you plan a Sprint you need to realistically understand any technological constraints that may hinder the project completion.  Working with the ClearanceJobs.com team there were a few items that the business asked for and we had to allow time for exploration of new technologies to see how we could implement a solution.  These tasks are hard to estimate and may involve a technology spike.

Additional Resources:

http://www.leadingagile.com/2012/08/simple-cheat-sheet-to-sprint-planning-meeting/

http://www.mitchlacey.com/intro-to-agile/scrum/sprint-planning-meeting

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