6 Things to Avoid With Your Sprint Planning Checklist

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jan 26, 2023
Updated on
Jan 26, 2023
Table of Content

If you're not planning your Sprints, you're planning to fail. Sprint Planning is one of the most critical aspects of Agile development, so take your time to do it right. This handy guide will teach you everything you need to know, from establishing how to run a Sprint Planning meeting to things to avoid on your Sprint Planning checklist.

Many believe in the power of Sprint Planning as an effective way to manage projects. As a result, Scrum Teams are capable of working together and collaborating effectively. Collaboration is more relevant than you might think, as two out of three employees would switch to another company if they felt disengaged and disconnected from their work.

The idea behind Sprint Planning is to break your project down into a series of short, time-boxed iterations called Sprints. During each Sprint, you work on specific tasks that will move the project forward. At the end of each Sprint, you evaluate what was accomplished and plan the next Sprint.

The Sprint Planning process helps you to stay focused and organized, and you can make it more manageable by using a Sprint Planning checklist.

Ready to make your Sprint Planning meetings as effective as possible? Read on to learn more.

What Is a Sprint Planning Checklist?

Basically, this is a set of tasks that need to be completed in order to plan a successful Sprint. The items in the checklist vary depending on the organization, but the main objective is always to accomplish the Sprint Goal.

According to the Scrum framework, Sprint Planning is an integral part of determining the pace of work. Each Sprint Planning meeting is followed by a series of daily Scrums, which are 15-minute time-boxed events that synchronize activities and generate 24-hour plans. Each Sprint concludes with a collaborative Sprint Review and a retrospective.

Your sprint planning checklist will typically include the following key points:

  • Plan collaboratively: Make sure all team members are present during the planning process.
  • Establish the sprint goal: Choose a primary goal for the Sprint that can be realistically achieved in the timeframe.
  • Break down tasks: Break down the goal into specific tasks that can be completed in the allotted time.
  • Assign tasks: Assign each task to a specific team member who is responsible for completing it.
  • Review the Sprint Backlog: Make sure that all tasks scheduled are actually necessary and relevant to the goal.
  • Identify potential roadblocks: Anticipate any potential deterrents that could prevent the team from achieving the Sprint Goal and plan accordingly.
  • Estimate time to completion: Identify how long each task will take to complete and add this information to the checklist.
  • Set up schedules: Determine the times and dates of future Scrum meetings and the availability of all developers.
  • Update the Sprint Plan as needed: Be prepared to update the Sprint Plan as tasks are completed or changed.

With this template for a Sprint Planning checklist, you can monitor the pace of your Sprint Planning agenda and ensure that everything is on track. 

Why Is a Sprint Planning Checklist Important?

Planning for a Sprint Goal is an effective way to shine a light on the team's work and ensure the Product Owner is always up to speed on the progress of the project. Additionally, it gives the team an opportunity to discuss limitations that may interfere with the product, and to prioritize individual tasks.

A Sprint Planning checklist is important for the following reasons:

Ensures everyone is on the same page

A Sprint Planning checklist can help ensure that all team members are aware of what needs to be accomplished during the upcoming Sprint. This will enable them to have a common understanding of where their efforts should be concentrated.

Helps track progress and identify potential roadblocks

By tracking items that have been completed and those that still need to be done, a Sprint Planning checklist can help uncover potential roadblocks and keep the team on track.

Facilitates better communication

A well-defined checklist can help facilitate better communication between team members, as everyone will have a clear understanding of their individual responsibilities. By using the checklist, everyone will know what to expect from the team and what is expected of them during the Sprint. 

Helps ensure that all tasks are accounted for

A Sprint Planning checklist can help identify any tasks that may have been overlooked. It prompts the team to consider all levels of work necessary to achieve the goal of the Sprint. 

Keeps the team organized and motivated

Having a well-defined checklist can help keep the team organized and motivated, as everyone will have a clear understanding of what they are responsible for and what they need to do to be successful.

Do NOT Make These Mistakes With Your Sprint Planning Checklist

Sprint Planning can feel like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. By following a simple checklist, you can ensure that your Sprint Planning runs as smoothly as possible.

However, a poorly crafted checklist can do more harm than good.

Here are 6 mistakes to avoid with your next Sprint Planning checklist:

Starting a Sprint without a defined goal

In the world of business, time is money. This phrase could not be more accurate than when applied to Sprint Planning in the Scrum methodology. The goal should be achievable and measurable so that you and your team can track your progress and know when you have achieved the goal.

If you do not have a specific goal for your Sprint, then you are wasting precious time and resources. The Sprint Planning agenda is all about maximizing efficiency and effectiveness by breaking down work into achievable tasks that can be completed in a short period of time. Without a goal, you and your team will be wandering aimlessly and not making the most of your time.

Focusing on story points instead of Sprint Goals

Teams often make the mistake of planning Sprints based on story points instead of Sprint Goals. Despite the importance of story points, a common Sprint Goal helps the development team set priorities, making it easier to identify which stories should be worked on next.

Generally speaking, story points make team estimation easier. Instead of estimating a Product Backlog item's hours of effort, teams consider its effort relative to other Product Backlog items. Flexibility is also necessary for the plan so that tasks can be shifted around as necessary.

Focusing on features instead of Sprint Goals

When you're planning your next Sprint, it's important to focus on your goals rather than individual features. This way, you can ensure that your team is working towards a common goal and that each member is aware of what needs to be done in order to achieve it.

This approach can be especially helpful if your team tends to get bogged down with details or if you find yourself constantly changing your mind about what needs to be done. It can also help you avoid feature creep, which can easily happen when you're working on a project with a lot of moving parts.

Of course, it's still critical to have a thorough understanding of your features and what they entail. But by focusing on goals rather than individual features, you'll be able to better see the big picture and make sure that each step your team takes is moving you closer to your end goal.

Refining the Product Backlog during Sprint Planning

Of course, your Product Backlog includes features, bug fixes, infrastructure changes, and other activities needed to achieve certain goals. However, refining the Product Backlog during Sprint Planning can disrupt the team's ability to plan and commit to work.

The Product Backlog should be refined during the Product Owner's development meeting, not during Sprint Planning. Sprint Planning is a time for the team to commit to what can be delivered in the upcoming Sprint, not to decide what will be worked on.

Fearing failure

It can be daunting to plan your Sprint agenda, but embracing setbacks is essential. Fear of failing can actually hinder productivity and prevent teams from taking risks.

Remember that failing is a natural part of the learning process and can help teams learn what works and what doesn't. By embracing failure, teams can be more productive and innovative. While Sprint Planning, teams identify potential roadblocks and problems that may arise during the Sprint.

Having no specific Sprint Goal

The main benefit of having a Sprint Goal during Sprint Planning is that it can help the team focus and stay on track. Without a specific goal, the team may become unfocused and start working on tasks that are not related to the overall goal of the Sprint.

This can lead to wasted time and effort, as well as frustration among team members. A specific Sprint Goal can also help the team prioritize tasks and make better decisions about what should be worked on during the Sprint. By setting a clear goal, the team can avoid becoming entangled in unnecessary details and instead focus on tasks that will help them achieve their goals.

How Can GoRetro Help?

In this guide, we hope to have made the Sprint Planning process more straightforward and easier for you. A successful project requires an understanding of the complete Scrum framework, which includes creating a collaborative environment through retrospectives.

Ready to begin setting team Sprint retrospectives? There is no better tool to help you than GoRetro. Take advantage of the ultimate user-friendly Agile retrospective tool to ensure that your meetings are efficient, productive, and easy to manage.

Put an end to the hassle of planning and project management with GoRetro today!

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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