Scrum sprint guide: understand it in less than 9 minutes
Despite what it sounds like, a Scrum sprint has nothing to do with either rugby or track and field.
It’s a time-boxed event in which your Scrum team focuses on delivering a complete, usable product increment.
So, yeah, probably less sweaty than you might be imagining.
Instead of a team working on different parts of a project over time, in a Scrum sprint your team comes together to deliver an improved product version in the short term.
In this article, we’ll cover the Scrum or Agile sprint in detail and show you how to implement it in your own company, all in plain English.
What is a Scrum sprint or Agile sprint?
In Scrum, a sprint is a time-boxed event of 1–4 weeks in which your Scrum team focuses only on a sprint goal.
The goal is typically a product increment or iteration — often an updated, improved version of your product or software.
And although iterative cycles are key to the Agile methodology, not all frameworks call them sprints. Some just refer to them as iterations.
How long are Scrum sprints?
Scrum sprints can last anywhere between 1 and 4 weeks. The average sprint is 2.4 weeks long, while the average length of a Scrum project is 11.6 weeks.
The whole point is to create iterations and quickly adapt to the customer response, so don’t aim too big. Plan sprints that are easily achievable within a month or less.
How many sprints are in a Scrum project?
Given that the average length of a complete project is 11.6 weeks and the average sprint is 2.4 weeks, the average Scrum project lasts for 4.8 sprints.
Of course, your mileage may vary. Depending on the scale of your project, you may have as few as 2–3, or as many as 10–20 Scrum sprints. There’s no way to give a universal number here.
What is the difference between Scrum and sprint?
Scrum is the larger framework of how to take Agile principles and values and incorporate them into your day-to-day work.
The Scrum methodology includes all its ceremonies (meetings), artifacts (outputs), processes, and roles — everything you need to be Agile.
A sprint is a foundational part of Scrum. It’s the main event all the ceremonies are centered around, but the Scrum framework includes much more than just sprints.
A sprint is still a complex process. Just take a look at its different stages below.
The stages of a Scrum sprint (in plain English)
The Scrum sprint goes through many stages from pre-planning, planning, to review. In the sections below, we cover what a Scrum team needs to do in each stage.
Note: Make sure you’re familiar with the different Scrum roles before trying to plan and implement a sprint.
- Establish a product roadmap (high-level goals and timeline for product functionality).
- Compile and prioritize items in the product backlog (list of all necessary features for the completed product).
- Hold a sprint planning meeting where you create the sprint backlog (all the user stories, bugs, or features you want to target in the sprint).
- Decide on a greater sprint goal (essentially how the items in your sprint backlog should change your current product version).
- The Scrum team follows the sprint backlog and works to create a complete increment.
- Use a daily Scrum meeting to stay on track and keep up the progress.
#4: Review and testing
- Hold a sprint review meeting with stakeholders, the product owner, and all team members to test if the product increment holds up. If it does, consider it done, and if they have complaints, add them to the product backlog to tackle in another sprint.
#5: Looking back and adapting
- Hold a sprint retrospective where you look back at the sprint, consider what went well, where you can improve, and commit to addressing some issues in the next sprint.
- Also, consider the direction of the project, and whether changing priorities need to be reflected in the product backlog.
What to do before your first sprint
For your first sprint to be a success, there are many steps you should take before you even get started.
#1: Internalize the Scrum values as a team
Don’t try to run before you can walk. Internalize the Scrum values to make sure your team can take charge and self-organize successfully.
Teams with a better understanding of the values will have fewer issues. Better communication and collaboration see to that.
They won’t look for or need a leader to take charge. (Our team at monday.com doesn’t even use a Scrum Master.)
#2: Create a project roadmap
The product owner should work with stakeholders to develop high-level goals, priorities, and a flexible timeline.
Then, use monday.com’s Agile project roadmap template to visualize it all:
Note that a major component of Agile methodology is adaptation. Your roadmap should be adapted as the project progresses, so it doesn’t need to be complete or perfect right off the bat.
#3: Collaborate with stakeholders on the product backlog
The product owner and team should collaborate with stakeholders to add, review, and prioritize product backlog items.
Working with clients, internal users, and other stakeholders is the only way to figure out which features are the most important.
A shareable product backlog template comes in handy here.
#4: Plan a realistic increment based on your team’s capacitySome teams think a sprint is a magic tool to help them get more done in a shorter period of time. But a sprint is only effective when you set achievable goals and keep your focus narrow. The Scrum team should evaluate their own capacity first, and plan based on it.
monday.com’s R&D team uses story points (SP), a flexible unit for how much effort a work item will take. They consider 1 SP to be roughly equivalent to a single workday.
For each 2-week sprint, they plan “only” 8 SP, giving them plenty of time to overcome any roadblocks.
For more information on how to correctly implement a sprint within the context of your company, read our guide on how to use Agile meetings.
It will teach you how to use the Daily Scrum, sprint review, sprint Retrospective, and backlog refinement meeting throughout the Scrum process.
Within the Scrum framework, a sprint is a great way for Agile teams to quickly build products, one iteration at a time.
But before you get started, you need to have the basics on lock. Start by establishing a proper Scrum team and internalizing all the Scrum values and pillars.
After that, you can use monday.com’s Scrum planning template and import your prioritized product backlog items into a sprint backlog.
Then, break the user stories down into work items, assign ownership, and estimate the timeline.