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Your Quick Guide to Agile Sprint Planning

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Sep 2, 2021
Updated on
Dec 25, 2021
Table of Content

Any sprint worth its salt has to be planned to a T. 

But, with so many other distractions, needs and, yes, some internal politics (although we hope not), the actual ‘planning’ can often fall by the wayside. 

Or at least, planning that will help to define and execute your sprint in a way that will make it as effective and smoothly-running as possible. 

To that end, here’s a quick guide of how to do your sprint planning right, and do so each and every time! 

What Is Sprint Planning and Its Main Purpose?

It sounds like it is: sprint planning is setting an agenda and planning for your sprint. 

But, between the ‘how it says’ and ‘how you do it’, there can be an absolutely massive gap. 

Your sprint planning meeting (not to be confused with your sprint retrospective or sprint review) is when your sprint team meets to decide what will be handled in the upcoming sprint. 

This is a collaborative effort between all parties, and the goal of it is to keep your agile sprint(s) focused, on target, and as effective as can be. 

But before that happens, there’s a LOT of preparation that has to go into the planning. While it sounds like there’s planning for the actual event, we feel the need to remind you that practice (and planning) makes perfect, and that investing a small amount of time to correcting and optimizing your processes makes for better, stronger overall sprints in the long run!

What Happens in a Sprint Planning Meeting?

The agile sprint planning meeting can be broken into several sections: 

Before the sprint planning meeting 

The relevant stakeholders (for example, the Scrum master and product manager) will meet and check the team’s capacity, urgent needs and insights from past sprints. They will set the deadline of the overall project, or work within an existing one, and set priorities. 

During the sprint planning meeting

The backlog will either be set during the pre-planning meeting, or will be set with the other stakeholders during the meeting. This is the stage where the team reviews the current backlog, and moves items around as necessary. 

(This step relies on the team being open and honest with themselves and one another. To help things get moving quicker and encourage that all-important sense of openness, check out our list of quick, fun icebreaker questions to really get your dev team talking!)

The Sprint Planning Meeting Agenda

The actual agenda of your agile sprint planning meeting really depends on what’s decided by the scrum master (and other stakeholders) at the pre-planning meeting. 

Usually, your agenda will look something like this: 

  • Sprint backlog review: the team will look over what exists in the backlog, following the pre-planning meeting., 
  • Story estimation: the team will do their best to estimate how long each item will take to complete, budgeting time and timeline. 
  • Capacity estimation: once you have the above two steps down, the capacity of the sprints can be worked out, as well as the speed of story completion. 

When Should a Sprint Planning Meeting Take Place?

Your sprint planning meeting needs to take place before the sprint itself - ideally, it should be immediately after the last sprint has ended or post the sprint retrospective, while it's still fresh in everyone’s minds!  

What are the Challenges in Sprint Planning?

As you're well aware, there are all kinds of issues that can go wrong during a sprint...but, having a sprint planning meeting can help to prevent any and all of these issues from even happening! 

Here’s what to expect and how to do a sprint planning meeting to anticipate these challenges: 

  • Make sure there’s a clear, defined sprint goal
  • Allow room for changes during the sprint
  • Anticipate any and all issues that could arise - if not for the current sprint, then take note for the next sprint.
  • Overestimate the time it will take for stories to be completed. 

How GoRetro Will Sort Your Sprint Planning Meeting, Period

If a sprint planning meeting, the sprint itself, and everything that comes after sounds like too much work for you, then Let's GoRetro.

With the sprint retrospective, you can look back at your previous sprint, better plan the next one, as well as understand what’s working well, and what isn’t, and be able to assign action items to improve and beyond...as a team leader, a developer or engineer, and as the dev team as a whole. 

Better yet, GoRetro is a completely free forever sprint retrospective tool for unlimited team members and boards.

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