What is the Impact of External Dependencies on Sprint Planning?

GoRetro Team
June 15, 2023
Posted on
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In the world of software development, Agile and Scrum methodologies have gained immense popularity for their ability to deliver projects efficiently. One of the key aspects of Agile is sprint planning, which helps teams organize their work and set achievable goals within a specific timeframe. However, external dependencies can have a significant impact on sprint planning, potentially affecting the team's ability to deliver on time and meet their objectives. ]

In this post, we will explore what external dependencies are, their impact on sprint planning, and how to mitigate their effects.

What are External Dependencies?

External dependencies refer to the factors or components that a software development team relies on but are beyond their immediate control. These can include external services, libraries, APIs, hardware, or even dependencies on other teams or departments within the organization. Simply put, they are the external factors that affect the team's ability to complete their work independently.

What is the Impact of External Dependencies on Sprint Planning?

External dependencies can introduce uncertainty and complexity into sprint planning. They can potentially hinder the team's progress and compromise the achievement of their sprint goal. Here are a few key impacts to consider:

Delays and Bottlenecks: When a team has external dependencies, any delay or issue with those dependencies can cause bottlenecks in the development process. For example, if a team relies on a third-party API for a crucial functionality and that API experiences downtime, the team's ability to deliver that feature on time may be jeopardized.

Reduced Flexibility: External dependencies often introduce constraints on the team's ability to adapt and respond to changes. If a dependency changes its interface or behavior, the team may need to invest time and effort in adjusting their own code to accommodate the changes. This can impact the team's ability to remain flexible and deliver value quickly.

Uncertainty in Estimations: Estimating the effort required to complete a sprint becomes challenging when there are external dependencies involved. The team must consider factors such as the stability of the dependency, the availability of support, and any potential integration complexities. Such uncertainties can lead to inaccurate estimations, making it difficult to plan sprints effectively.

How to Mitigate the Impact of External Dependencies on Sprint Planning?

While external dependencies can pose challenges, there are strategies to mitigate their impact on sprint planning. Here are a few effective approaches:

Identify and Prioritize Dependencies: Start by identifying and understanding the external dependencies relevant to your project. Prioritize them based on their criticality to the sprint goals. By having a clear view of these dependencies, you can proactively plan for potential challenges.

Collaborate and Communicate: Foster effective communication and collaboration with the teams or stakeholders responsible for the external dependencies. Establish regular touchpoints to share updates, discuss potential issues, and align expectations. By maintaining open lines of communication, you can better navigate any changes or challenges that arise.

Create Contingency Plans: Develop contingency plans for critical external dependencies. Consider alternatives or backup solutions that can be implemented in case a particular dependency becomes unavailable or encounters issues. Having backup plans ensures that the team can continue making progress even in the face of unexpected obstacles.

Buffer Time and Flexibility: Incorporate buffer time in sprint planning to account for potential delays or complications arising from external dependencies. By allocating additional time, the team can better absorb any impact on their work and adapt to changes more effectively. Flexibility is key when dealing with external dependencies.


External dependencies can significantly influence the success of sprint planning in Agile software development. By understanding the impact of these dependencies and adopting appropriate mitigation strategies, teams can navigate potential challenges more effectively. Identifying, prioritizing, collaborating, and creating contingency plans all contribute to minimizing the impact of external dependencies on sprint planning.

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