A Sprint is a fixed period of time during which a development team commits to deliver a collection of tasks designed to conclude with a demo of a potentially shippable product. The duration can be between 1 and 4 weeks, and is most commonly set at 2 weeks.
A working product at the end of each Sprint is emphasised in Scrum, meaning the product iteration has been fully integrated, tested and documented.
A Sprint begins with sprint planning, where the development team along with product owner and scrum master meet to discuss and commit to a segment of the product backlog to be promoted to the sprint backlog for development during the current sprint. The sprint ends with a sprint review to show stakeholders the delivered work from the sprint, and sprint retrospective where lessons are identified and improvements to be applied in future sprints.
The first task at the beginning of any sprint is to conduct the sprint planning event, the development team meet and collectively agree on the scope of work that is realistically deliverable in time for the defined end of sprint.
The outcome of Sprint Planning is a sprint backlog for the current sprint, a collection of items taken typically from the top of the product backlog. The meeting is recommended to take 2 hours for every week of the planned sprint – a 2 week sprint should take four hours.
The first half of the Sprint Planning session consists of the whole team selecting the product backlog items that can be completed during that sprint.
The second half of the Sprint Planning session involves identifying the work required to complete each item, ultimately resulting in a sprint backlog commitment.
Some product backlog items may be too large and require breaking down to smaller tasks, while other items may lack sufficient detail and be rejected by the development team until deemed ready for development.
The Daily Scrum is typically conducted first thing every day, should start at the same time and take place in the same location whilst being limited to 15 minutes.
Each team member comes prepared to cover what they achieved yesterday, what they intend to achieve today, and any blockers that may impede progress
The Scrum Master captures any impediment raised during the Daily Scrum and displays this on the Scrum board for all to see, with a designated team member working to resolve.
No detailed discussions should take place during the Daily Scrum. Anyone is welcome to attend the Daily Scrum, but only the development team will contribute to the content of the meeting.
At the end of the sprint the team conducts a sprint review where the competed work is presented to stakeholders in the form of a demo, and work not completed is covered but not demonstrated. The team and stakeholders then collaborate to discuss what to work on next.
The sprint review should be restricted to 1 hour per week of development – 2 hour Sprint Review for a 2 week sprint.
The Sprint Retrospective is a chance for the development team, facilitated by the scrum master, to reflect on how the sprint went, the ultimate goal being to identify processes that can be improved in future sprints.
Two key questions should be asked:
- What went well during the sprint?
- What can be improved in future sprints?
The Sprint Retrospective should be restricted to 45 minutes per week of development – 1.5 hours Sprint Retrospective for a 2 week sprint.