22nd Jan, 2020
Product Development is like a Game. Take the example of any game - be it Cricket, Basketball, Baseball, or any other sport. Every game has a strategy. You don't just jump on to the field and start playing. Same way, in the game of product development, you also need to strategize.
Before you start working on developing features in the Sprint, it is essential to understand the outcome of the Sprint and create a plan to achieve it. This event in Scrum is called Sprint Planning.
What's the purpose of Sprint Planning?
The purpose of Sprint Planning is to define the outcome of the Sprint like a business objective or learning goal, like validating a hypothesis and then create a plan to achieve it.
It would also help to define Key Progress Indicators to measure the outcome.
What are the inputs, activities, and outputs for Sprint Planning?
The prioritized Product Backlog, the Product Increment from the previous sprint, the team's capacity for the Sprint and the past performance of the team is the input for the Sprint Planning.
During the Sprint planning, the teams work on two parts:
- Identifying what are we doing in this Sprint and
- How are we going to work together to make it happen?
The output of the Sprint is the Sprint Goal, Sprint Backlog, and Key Progress Indicators.
Inputs to Sprint Planning
Prioritized Product Backlog
Based on the feedback from the stakeholders during the sprint review, business needs, market conditions, users' inputs, dependencies, etc. the Product Owner works with the stakeholders and the development team continuously and creates a refined, sized and a prioritized product backlog with the essential Product Backlog items on the top.
The product increment is the output from the previous sprints. It is a working piece of product that has been developed so far by the Development team. The new features that will be developed in this Sprint will be inclusive of the features that are developed from the previous Sprint.
The team's capacity is the team's availability during the Sprint to work on development. This helps the team to plan their work effectively.
Team's past performance
The past performance of the team indicates the team's collective capability of how much valuable work can be "done" in a sprint towards the vision. This will help the team to forecast. This could be represented in the form of several Product Backlog Items delivered in the Sprint, Number of story points delivered in the Sprint, etc. which team generally calls as velocity.
What do you do in Sprint Planning?
Sprint planning has two topics:
The first topic is: What can be done this Sprint?
The Product Owner discusses the,
- The objective that the Sprint should achieve
- The Product Backlog items that, if completed within the Sprint, would meet the Sprint Goal.
For example: If you are building a product to help the doctors be competent in diagnosing the patient's problem quickly and accurately, one of the Sprint may have the goal,
"Reduce the time that the doctors spend in talking to the patients to understand their medical history."
The second topic is: how will the chosen work get done?
The Development team, based on their collective capability, forecasts what end-to-end functionality can be delivered in the Sprint to achieve the Sprint Goal and how they plan to deliver it.
For example: For the Goal of reducing the doctor's time talking with patients to understand their medical history, the possible Product Backlog Items could be:
- Patients medical history
- Pre-existing condition checklist
- Capture recent vitals
- Capture symptoms
- Alexa integration for capturing data
These times form a Sprint Backlog. Optionally teams can also split these Product Backlog Items into specific tasks. What I also recommend doing as part of Sprint Planning is to identify ways to measure the outcome like KPIs.
For example, you may want to measure the
- time the Doctors spend with patients
- % of successful diagnosis
The output of Sprint Planning
The output of Sprint Planning is the Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog.
Sprint Goal gives the team flexibility to inspect and adapt the plan and self-organize to achieve the objective.
The Sprint Backlog helps the team collaborate towards Sprint Goal.
Optionally if you have defined KPIs, they help in measuring if the outcome has happened at the end of the Sprint.