Rules for the sprint planning meeting

The sprint planning meeting is time boxed to 8 hours and consists of two segments that are time boxed to 4 hours each. The first segment is for selecting the product backlog and the second segment is for preparing the sprint back log.

  • The attendees are the scrum master, the product owner and the team. Additional parties can be invited by any of these people to provide additional business domain or technology domain information and advice, but they are dismissed after this information is provided. There are no chickens as observers.
  • The product owner must prepare the product backlog prior to the meeting. In the absence of either the product owner or the product backlog, the scrum master is required to construct an adequate product backlog prior to the meeting and to stand in for the product owner.
  • The goal of the first segment, or first 4 hours is for the team to select those product backlog items that it believes it can commit to turning into an increment of potentially shippable product functionality. The team will demonstrate this functionality to the product owner and stake holders at the sprint review meeting at the end of the sprint.
  • The team can make suggestions, but the decision to what product backlog can constitute the sprint is the responsibility of the product owner.
  • The team is responsible for determining how much of the product backlog that the product owner wants worked on the team will attempt to do during the sprint.
  • Time boxing the first segment to 4 hours means that this is all of the time that is available for analyzing the product backlog. Further analysis must be performed during the sprint. Large-grained, high-priority product backlog with imprecise estimates might not be thoroughly understood during this part of the sprint planning meeting and might result in the team not being not able to complete all of the product backlog that it selects.
  • The second segment of the sprint planning meeting occurs immediately after the first segment and is also time boxed to 4 hours.
  • The product owner must be available to the team during the second segment to answer questions that the team might have about the product backlog.
  • It is up to the team acting solely on its own and without any direction from outside the team to figure out during the second segment how it will turn the selected product backlog into an increment of potentially shippable product functionality. No one else is allowed to do anything but observe or answer questions seeking further information.
  • The output of the second segment of the sprint planning meeting is a list called sprint backlog, of tasks, task estimates and ‘volunteered work’  that will start the team on the work of developing the functionality. The task list might not be complete, but it must be complete enough to reflect mutual commitment on the part of all team members and to carry them through the first part of the sprint, while the team devises more tasks in the sprint backlog

5 thoughts on “Rules for the sprint planning meeting

  1. Helpful summary, thanks. A bit draconian, perhaps – probably appropriate for Shu teams.

    Not sure what you mean by “assignments” in the last bullet point. Hopefully not that tasks are assigned to team members?

  2. With the ‘assignments’ I assume that you mean that when you leave the sprint planning each task has a person signed up to do it, and in spirit of the self-organization this is not assigned by a single person but done in deliberation.

    In my personal experience it is not necessary to have the tasks allocated to a person. I have had good results that we left the planning meeting with the sprint planning where no task was assigned. People just pick up each day a task that they think they can do best at that time in order to reach the sprint goal.

    People less familiar with self-organization sometimes share their fear that this will lead to some tasks not being picked-up. I have not seen such a behavior, on the contrary, people make sure they share the boring and fun stuff equally.

  3. These rules are good and would be useful for co-located team. When team members are geographically distributed (for eg. Germany and India in our case) then we may need to split up the meeting into more than two parts. However we need to ensure that team should understand the backlog so that they can identify tasks. The reference to DoD during the second part of SPM helped lot to our team members not to miss out any important tasks/ deliverables from business perspective.
    Aniket Mhala

  4. The prioritized backlog introduce to the team at the time of sprint planning 1 should not taken with surprise. They would have already seen the stories and would have already discussed about this in previous backlog grooming. We are talking about self organized and empowered scrum team, who can even reject a story if it is not clear to them. Getting clarity on stories prior to the planning meeting is necessary. That will even help the design to evolve during discussions.

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