What's a sprint plan? (Plus how to run a sprint meeting)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sprint meetings are part of a scrum framework, which many industries and businesses use when developing projects. Successfully planning a sprint can help to ensure that you and your team members are productive throughout. If you intend to become a project manager, it's important to understand how to create a successful sprint plan to ensure that you manage all your product development effectively. In this article, we discuss what a sprint planning meeting is, explain the basics of the scrum framework and show you how to run a sprint meeting.

What is a sprint plan?

You formulate a sprint plan to help project managers conduct and coordinate a sprint. The term 'sprint' refers to a designated time that project managers and their teams spend completing a part of a particular project. In a scrum framework, which is a common project management framework, project managers split up projects into sprints to increase productivity and to ensure that team members stay on track with their work.

In a sprint meeting, project managers usually work with team members to determine the goals of the sprint. For example, they may focus on what each team member can do to complete the sprint. They also determine the timeline. Successful planning is important, as it ensures that all team members know what they're doing. It also helps managers ensure that the deliverables and work meets the stakeholders' or client's requirements.

Related: 20 fun meeting ideas to boost engagement and productivity

What is a scrum team in agile?

A sprint meeting is a fundamental part of an agile project management framework called scrum. An agile framework suggests that the project team can split down larger projects, specifically development projects, into smaller, more manageable chunks of work. Several teams then work together to complete these smaller sections in sessions called sprints.

Agile frameworks encourage open and face-to-face communication over other methods, which means that sprint meetings are a key component of this framework. Teams of around five to nine individuals work together to meet specific targets. All members of the scrum work together and follow the same rules, which nurtures a culture of mutual respect and collaboration.

Related: PRINCE2 qualification: everything you need to know

Important sprint meeting terminology

To effectively communicate with other teams and their members, it's necessary that you understand some key sprint meeting terms that participants may use. If you're new to the scrum methodology, here are some key terms to use when running a successful sprint:

  • Product owner: They are responsible for managing the product backlog and making sure that regular communication with the stakeholders occurs.

  • Product backlog: This is a list of all the elements necessary to complete a product. A product owner is responsible for updating the product backlog when a team completes a task.

  • Sprint backlog: This is a list of tasks that your team aims to complete during a sprint.

  • User story: This is a simple description of the product being created that the project team writes in a customer's voice and tone. Its main purpose is to highlight the benefits of the product and how the product meets specific customer requirements.

  • Story points: Once the team completes writing the user story, each key story point gets a numerical value ascribed to measure the challenges of a particular user story. These include the materials and how long it may take to make.

Benefits of sprint meetings

Successful planning meetings influence the work of the entire project team. Here's how the team can benefit from them:

Better teamwork

Sprint meetings encourage teamwork. Through participating in a successful meeting, team members can develop meaningful professional relationships. This can increase productivity and make sure they know how to communicate clearly and respectfully even when a conflict arises.

Achievable goals

One of the objectives behind a sprint meeting is to better understand everyone's scope of work. By clearly identifying how each team member can contribute to the success of the project, it's easier to establish an effective project structure. It's also essential for determining how much time the team requires to complete a number of tasks.

Creates feedback opportunities

Conducting regular team meetings is helpful because it allows everyone to give and receive meaningful feedback. Team members can then use this feedback to improve their performance. As a result, they may successfully develop new skills and strengthen their professional qualifications.

How to run a planning meeting

It's critical that communication in sprint meetings is clear and concise. This helps you ensure everyone knows what the team expects from them and what to do to meet those expectations. Here are some steps you can take to conduct a successful sprint meeting:

1. Prepare for the meeting

The key to running a successful sprint meeting is to ensure that you prepare all the necessary documents and information ahead of time. To prepare, you can check your product backlog to see which point of product development your team has reached. It's also helpful to see whether there are any new updates to share in the meeting.

Once you do this, you can work out how long you think the meeting may last. This way, you can inform everyone how much time to dedicate to the meeting. Most commonly, weekly sprint meetings may take up to two hours. Because a key component of a scrum framework is communication, make sure that you communicate with the product owner to see if there's any stakeholder feedback that could influence the meeting.

Related: How to get SCRUM master certifications (plus career info)

2. Create a sprint backlog

Once you decide on your sprint goal, consider choosing items on the product backlog that you want to work with, ensuring that you're flexible with each goal. Make sure that all goals are split up into small sections so that they are manageable. To ensure organisation, consider writing your sprint backlog on a spreadsheet or in a similar format that allows for every team member to see each part of the sprint backlog.

Related: How to write a meeting agenda (with tips and sample)

3. Figure out a timeline

When planning a sprint meeting, one of the most important steps to take is to create a reasonable timeline of all the steps to complete in the sprint. Make sure that you allocate sufficient time for each section of the sprint, but also that there's room for flexibility. This is because project developments can change rapidly, so use data from other sprints to determine the timeline.

Although creating a draft timeline before the meeting is important, it's imperative to include your scrum team in this decision, as they have the best insight on how long a particular task may take. Here are two ways in which you can estimate a timeline:

  1. Past sprints: If you have already completed a number of sprints with the same scrum team, look back on the data you used to gather an estimation about how long each task may take to complete. This requires at least three sets of data.

  2. Three points: The three-point mathematical formula can help you to determine a potential timeline, based on how much time you hope to spend on each task, how much time you consider to be too much and the most likely scenario you can estimate.

Related: Guide: how to create a timeline

4. Designate the story points

Discuss each task with your team and assign story points to each task, based on their complexity. You can give each task a number from 1 to 10, 1 being incredibly easy and 10 being more challenging. Work with your team members to ensure that they agree with all of the numbers. For example, you can give everyone a piece of paper with the list of tasks, where they can individually assign a numerical value for each task. Once they do, compile the lists together and designate the complexity of the task based on what each team member thinks.

5. Summarise the meeting

Because sprint meetings can last a couple of hours, the ending of the meeting is just as important as the beginning. Consider using the last part of your sprint planning meeting to ask your team members if they are comfortable with the sprint timeline and make sure that they know what to do during the sprint. If anyone's unsure about that, make sure that you take the time to clarify, as this can help make the sprint successful.

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